Going Postal

Have any of my readers ever been employed by the US Postal Service?

I was just wondering if being a complete ass is a condition of employment or if that’s just something they acquire during the course of their career with the organization.

I’m not talking about the mail carriers necessarily.  Every one of them I’ve ever had occasion to meet has seemed like a nice enough person.  It’s the ones who work at the Post Offices themselves that I’m curious about.

Is there some sort of Minimum Ass Quotient score that they have to be awarded during the interview process in order to be granted a job working directly with the victims customers of the USPS?

It’s like every person who works in the Post Office has a serious inferiority complex that they must assuage by treating everyone who enters their domain as if they’re some sort of inferior being or something.

What’s funny is that even the ones who obviously think they’re being helpful do so in the most abrasive, self-righteous way imaginable.

I was at the Merrifield Post Office after work today submitting my Passport application.

I had everything they needed…completed application form, properly formatted passport photos (2 each), Certified Birth Certificate, Photo ID and photocopy of front and back of photo ID, Two separate checks…one to the State Department for the actual passport and the other to the USPS for the privilege of being hassled by them in processing my request…all my ducks were in one sock.

The gentleman reviewed my application for about a second whereupon he immediately, and in the most disdainful voice he could muster, demanded “Have you EVER been widowed or divorced?”.

I guess I have the look about me.  What that look is I couldn’t tell you, but I guess I have it.  Too happy maybe?  Anyway…

“Yes, I’ve been divorced, but I’m currently married” I replied.

“Well,”  He declared imperiously, “If you’ve EVER been divorced, then you need to mark the block under question 20 and enter the date you were divorced.

Please, dear reader, find below an image of question 20 from the form:

(click to make bigger (and probably less fuzzy))

Now, reading that question, would the typical person assume that the part about being widowed or divorced encompasses the entirety of one’s life?  Or is related specifically to the marriage information immediately preceding it?

I read that question to be asking if I am divorced from the person listed to the immediate left, not as “have you EVER been divorced, from ANYONE…even if their name is listed nowhere on this form?”.

Am I wrong?

And was it entirely necessary for the admittedly overworked (but very probably NOT underpaid) low-level government functionary to treat me as if I’m a blithering idiot because I was not capable of divining the INTENT of the aforementioned question, rather than the logically concluded literal interpretation?

I think not.

But…that’s the beauty of having a government enforced monopoly:  You can treat your “customers” as badly as you want…what are they going to do?  Go to the ACME Post Office down the street?


7 thoughts on “Going Postal

  1. I think you're right… The question asks about your current or most recent spousal unit. He made up his one interpretation.

    Is there a separate instruction on the line (like the tax forms have lengthly instructions for each line in the form?) I'll bet there is and explains your interpretation is correct.

    And they want these people to run your health care!

  2. Oh, you have no idea. I worked for the post office and let me tell you, their policies are borderline human rights violations and the union makes the autoworkers look sane and reasonable.

    The stories I could tell…

  3. Maybe I'm just one of the lucky ones, but I've NEVER had a problem with the USPS. Not any of my carriers, any of the clerks at any of the offices that I frequent (and I have made a daily counter-run for over 10 years now in my biz).

    But, I've heard enough horror stories to know there are bad apples. Just hasn't been my experience.

    As to Question #20, I'll go ahead on and be the contrarian (again). It seems pretty clear to me. You enter your current spouse's info, and then if you've been divorced, you check the box, and put in the date.

  4. I worked as a city letter carrier when first released from active duty back in 1971. This was in San Bernardino, CA. I must say that the managerial types I had dealings with were decent folks, but that is not the case in my branch office here in Newport News. Twice I got letters addressed to another state – I guess it is too much trouble to read the address when sorting the mail. At any rate, on the second letter I put it back in the (curbside) box. It came back the next day. I took it to the branch office & handed it to the supervisor with an explanation. Yep, it came back the very next day! I then called the 800 complaint number as I had enough of their attitude. I gave them the details & they promised to "investigate" & let me know of their findings. That was over a year ago & still no findings. And they wonder why E-mail is so popular!


  5. I've not had any SERIOUS problems with either mail carriers or the fine folks who work behind the counter at the post office. They all seem to be pretty laid-back, if not bursting with an unquenchable need to get each counter customer's needs done in the fastest possible manner. Well, in the same circumstances, I wouldn't either. What a crappy job!

    But that form .. wow! That's just gruesome. Of course, it's not the fault of the post office. Most towns don't have an office devoted entirely to passports. (Does any town?)

    I've been married twice: divorced once, widowed once. There doesn't seem to be any provision for this kind of weird. And to tell the truth, I can remember the date that #2 died, but not the date that the divorce from #1 became final.

    And who can remember their birthdays? (Which may explain the divorce.)

    It's been over 20 years, and I am not sure I want to travel internationally badly enough to put up with this kind of administrative drivel. After all … who cares, really?

    Personally, I probably would just

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