By Nunnie Robinson
The above conversation occurred while I was standing in line awaiting service. I became so irritated that I felt compelled to call a friend, a recent postal retiree whose sage advice I trust implicitly. I was given a number to call to express my concerns about the inadequate service, and I did so, leaving voice messages twice.
My frustration at the lack of respect given the public is galling. I was one of 15 persons in a line stretching the length of the post office lobby. There were two service reps to process the patrons which was outrageous. The American people deserve better. This was the second negative experience I have had which makes using the post office a deleterious option. A similar circumstance occurred at the Seventh Avenue location just south of Sistrunk Blvd. While in a line which meandered around the corner and waiting patiently for over 30 minutes, the lone clerk, without any warning deadpanned: this is my last customer. The line is closing and that is precisely what she did. Those of us in the far rear of line were wondering if they heard correctly- what did she say, what is going on before slowly and finitely seeing customers in the front of the line turn dejectedly away, forced to accept the sudden, harsh reality of the line/service window’s closure. After processing the palpable frustration of the post office employee, mentally denying the inevitable, my initial anger at the employee was short-lived, realizing that this was a problem steeped in the purposeful mismanagement that began long before 45 became president but was certainly exacerbated by his appointment of Luis Dejoy as PM General, a political move to help him win the election. Clearly, there are major management, operational, financial and personnel problems rendering the postal service highly dysfunctional.
The Post Office has been in the news lately, which I find timely, because of my personal experiences as a customer. Louis Dejoy, 45’s choice to lead post office ostensibly to degrade the service out of political expedience, i.e., removing sorting machines, eliminating overtime, and reducing employees, stated emphatically to Congress that he was not a political appointee and that he was not going anywhere, and though President Biden does not have the authority to summarily dismiss him, the president just recently appointed three new board members with the power to do just that.
At the 7th Avenue location, I thought the clerk could have requested assistance if available but chose the selfish way out- she quit, leaving the customers in a lurch. Getting the package mailed was a priority so I went to the Plantation branch which was not nearly as crowded but also had a clear COVID-19 protocol. The inside was limited to a certain number, requiring customers to wait in the lobby separated by doors from the service area, thus satisfying the quota. Once inside, I noticed two clerks serving a much smaller clientele which allowed me to ship my package in short order. The difference in the northwest branch and the Plantation branch was stark, shocking but not totally surprising, just another example of the systematic racism that has been America’s Achilles heel.
My experience at the Oakland location was similar to the Seventh Avenue branch with two notable exceptions: no one quit, and an additional clerk came on board to lessen the load. However, while in line I did call the number given to me by a friend and former postal manager. I never spoke to anyone but left a message expressing my displeasure. Not sure if my call had anything to do with third clerk. A couple years prior at the Oakland branch, I was so impressed with the professionalism and efficiency of one clerk, obviously a female, who for a protracted period worked alone, processed myriad customer postal needs without fail, something I passed on to my friend, who was still working at the time.
Finally, I say without equivocation, I place absolutely no blame on the postal clerks who I believe have done and continue to perform their duties admirably despite the dreadful working conditions and stress accompanying the jobs. The postal service has given many minorities job opportunities to earn an excellent salary and retirement benefits placing them in the American middle class. From my perspective the postal service is needed and wanted by the American people and deserves every opportunity to succeed. Something I noticed at the Oakland site was telling. Processing boxes takes time, and they want to get it right. Pushy, panicky, demanding customers often slow that process and though appointments are necessary when you only have 2 clerks and one must process passports, that task is time-consuming, virtually leaving the other clerk to service the remaining customers. This renders the entire operation inept and inadequate. These are personal observations, not hearsay. So, I see overt issues that can be easily rectified if the will and intent are based in honesty and integrity. With proper leadership and vision, it can and must happen.