Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bunny Blues and Going Postal

I was going to write a song--"I got the bunny ate my flowers blues" (see previous blog), but I'm going to let it go--even though every time I come home I see the crime scene. I must move on and forgive.

In the past I have given you some insight into behind the scenes at the post office. No one could imagine everything a small town postmaster does. Since we are on our own out in the offices managing everything, the higher management seems to come up with so many different procedures so that they can be sure that we are doing everything perfectly and to be sure we are not bored--I have never had a day in my 11 years of being a postmaster when I was all caught up and had nothing to do.

So, the latest test of our ability was a post office box audit. In theory this doesn't sound bad. It's an inventory of how many post office boxes are in your office of each size, their numbers, how many are rented, how many are available and how many are broken. It also entailed some other filing duty things, but that was minor (well, kind of purging files and combining others).

Well, physically counting should be easy. I have over 450 boxes and then another set of over 200 that were installed and will never ever be used. I didn't worry about the 200.

Well, let me tell you what I was doing for four days. First we must sort the mail and do our daily required reports and read our emails. Then I could start this project. We have four different walls that hold post office boxes in our little office. So, I start with the smallest section and the easiest because all but two of the boxes are the same size. Simple--just count how many across and how many down and multiply and add two. This is how it goes, "one, two, three, four" oops--wait on customer. Back, "one, two, three, four, five--one row done." Wait on customer. Back "one, two". Wait on customer. Back "one," phone rings. You get the idea. That was the easy part of counting--then counting how many were rented, not rented--I think I was ready to cry at one point. In a small office after the mail is sorted, the postmaster works alone multi-tasking to the hilt.

Then we had to compare the figures to a program on the computer, an edit book we have, and two other programs on the computer and spot check them with our physical cards. Are we having fun yet?

No, you don't know what fun is. You see, one program was in numerical order and another is in physical order, which is unfortunately not the same. Years ago when the world was simpler, previous postmasters were so nice to customers. A customer would have one size box and want a different size--not a problem until the postmaster let them keep their own number. The problem? That puts the post office boxes out of sequence. I tease clerks who come from other offices that you have to learn to count "East Hartland". Example, 235,236,231! What is worse is 350,273,376--all in sequence. That's just a sampling. If I had only carefully selected the hairs that I pulled out, I would not have any gray.

Well after four days of madness, I finally put in an hour of overtime so I could work on it straight without interruption. I am so glad to be done.

The next project...they just sent out a DVD and stack of reading material which is mandatory training equivalent to 5 hours. Used to be we had to drive to New Haven for training. I am glad not to have to do that and they are wise not having to pay us travel pay any more. However, here we go again. I have to watch the dvd and read the "fascinating" training between my other work--5 hours of training will take at least 7 hours.

So, there's a sneak peek at some of the behind the counter doings at a small post ofice. Now where would they ever come up with the term "going postal"?

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