Friday, January 3, 2014

Your tax dollars hard at work

You know, when you've had a year full of cancer, surgeries and being forced to move, little things aren't the end of the world. They are, however, annoying. They're especially annoying when they're caused by our government supported businesses. This is a completely bipartisan government frustration. I thought I'd share this story before I go postal. Pun intended. Read on to see why. It's fixable, not life threatening, and minor. Like a bad paper cut. Or maybe a bad cold. Or a case of poison ivy.

When we moved out of our former house in early November we didn't know where our next home would be. Temporarily we moved into an extended stay motel. We had our mail forwarded to a P.O. Box near our old house for the interim.

We moved into our house on December 10th. I had mailbox keys, but no idea which mailbox was ours. As much fun as it might have been trying every box in the neighborhood, I'm fairly certain it wouldn't have left a good first impression on our new neighbors. I found our local post office branch (which is just an annex in a strip business center). I took the right forms to prove my identity and residency. They told me in two weeks I would have new keys but could use my old ones temporarily then told me where the box was.

I drove to the box they'd told me was mine. I tried the keys. They didn't work. There were three sets of boxes at the same location, so I tried box 5 on all 3. The key went into the keyhole on 2 of them, but would not turn. I drove to another set of boxes and tried all of the number 5's in that set to no avail. I knew I'd need to wait for my new keys.

During the time we were gone for Christmas I got a call that the keys were ready to pick up. Then we got home, my husband got sick, yada, yada, yada, and I didn't get the keys until January 2nd. I tried those keys today (January 3rd) in the box listed on the envelope the keys were in. They didn't work. I tried the other boxes with a number 5. Still nothing. Sigh.

I called the Post Office branch (the one that has no desk, just a door with an upper section that opens when you ring the bell----mind you, we are in the nation's 7th largest city, so this seems odd). They said to come BACK and bring the keys with me. I did that. The person in front of me left, so I assumed I was next. The lady told me to wait a minute. In the meantime, apparently the lady who'd been in front of me had come back in with her ID. You see, in order to receive your very own mail, you need an ID. Not to vote, mind you, or to get free benefits from the government, but to get your own mail from the government. Sorry, I digress. The mail clerk then took 10 minutes to find this lady's certified mail. What do you know? It was right there in the stack of mail but had been "filed incorrectly." Finally, my turn.

I explained my situation and she took my keys. She told me it would be 2 weeks before I get new keys or find out what is going on with our box. I explained that people had sent me mail and it should be in that box now. She asked if my mail was on hold. No, no one told me to put my mail on hold. "Would you like to put your mail on hold?" I'd like to GET my mail, not put it on hold. "Well, we can put your mail on hold and you can pick it up here." I want the mail that is in my box NOW. "Fill out this form and the carrier will bring it back here. You can pick it up after 3 days." Clearly, it takes 3 days to drive from the post office annex 20 minutes away and take my mail back rather than just knocking on my door like my old postal carrier would have done. I miss him. So, I fill out the form and mark one of the boxes that seemed most logical. Turns out I was supposed to check the one that says, "I will pick up my mail when I return." I told her I wasn't going anywhere and wanted my mail NOW. She told me that I could come pick it up after 3 days (we'd been through this part), but that once I picked it up that would end the hold cycle and I couldn't pick it up again. She knew by this time we'd been in the house since December 10th with no means to access our mailbox. She said she would "let" me have one extra pick up. How nice. I can get mail twice before they keep it from me again. Who knows? In two weeks I might get new keys to a box and we'll see if they work or not.

I miss the mailbox that was attached to my house in Waco, Texas. I miss having a box in front of my house. Actually, I just miss being able to get my mail. See, the stuff that's being forwarded to the PO Box is mainly medical bills. Until we owe something to the electric or water company, I should only have GOOD stuff in my mailbox!

Like I said, this isn't life altering. It isn't cancer. No one is getting a feeding tube or having major surgery. We aren't being forced to leave a home. We aren't living in a motel anymore. It's just a mailbox. That doesn't work. Paid for my you and me. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how YOUR tax dollars are hard at work.