Sunday, July 15, 2007

"Good manners don't cost a thing."

Yesterday I closed out our post office box. We've had the box for years, since just before we moved to this area.

We haven't lived in that part of the city for almost five years, but we kept the box for a number of reasons. We still went to that part of the city relatively often, and it was easy to pop by and check the mail.

A couple of years ago, the post office started locking the doors during non-working hours. That made it much more difficult, since Skeeter and I weren't often there until evenings or weekends. Still, we didn't have much of our mail sent there. Mostly I used it for my eBay sales so I wouldn't have to give out our home address. I was lucky to get there once a month, and usually only if I was expecting a letter or package.

But this week I decided it was time to close it. And even after all of the inconvenience and such, I really closed it because of one of the clerk, a rude and hateful woman who started working there about two years after we got the box. Most of the time I didn't have to deal with her because, hey, I was just there to get the mail. It was always a 1-in-4 chance of getting her when I picked up a package, so it wasn't too bad.

All that changed last year, when she was put in charge of the boxes. Because I don't get there often, and sometimes less than once a month, I didn't get last year's box notice the month that it was due. When I came in a couple of weeks after it was due, she informed me that the post office wasn't in the business of letting people have the boxes for free. She had sent back all of my mail and changed the locks. And she told me all of that in her oh-so-haughty manner.

At the time, I wasn't considering changing and I was still selling on eBay pretty regularly, so I paid the changed-lock fee, renewed the box for another year, and moved along. But this year, as the time approached, I thought about it before I renewed. I don't sell on eBay as much any more, and there was really no need to have the box. I didn't renew it when it was due at the end of May.

Yesterday I happened to be in the area during post office hours, so I stopped by to officially close the box, set the forwarding order, and turn in the key. Haughty Hateful Clerk was there, but thankfully, she wasn't the one who waited on me. The woman who did wait on me has been there for longer than we have been customers, and she's always so nice. Not overly, grandmotherly nice, but pleasant and efficient, which is all the better in my opinion.

When I told Nice Clerk that I was there to get any mail that might be there and set the forwarding order, Haughty Hateful Clerk must have been eavesdropping. Haughty Hateful Clerk turned from her customer and called out from two stations over, "Your box has been closed. You don't have any mail."

I turned to Nice Clerk and said, "I understand if the mail has been sent back, but I do want to set a forwarding order." I told her the box number, and Nice Clerk said, "Wait a minute. You're [last name], right? There's a stack back there for you." Nice Clerk immediately went to look and came back a couple of minutes later with a stack of mail (mostly junk) and a small package that I had forgotten about.

I have a sneaky feeling that if Haughty Hateful Clerk had been the one to wait on me, there's no way she would have given me the mail. And now that makes me wonder about the last time. Last time I was there 17 days after the box was closed. This time, it was 45 days. If they had it this time, surely they had it last time as well.

But, interestingly enough, Nice Clerk and the clerk who stands next to her (another very nice woman who is more of the grandmotherly type) were having a discussion about manners while I filled out my forms. I can't remember how the discussion began, but they were talking in very vague terms about manners, specifically good and bad manners between a clerk and customer. I think that one of them must have had a bad experience earlier that day, although neither one of them said that.

Nice Clerk came out with the sentence I was expecting as soon as the manners topic came up. "Good manners don't cost a thing."

I hope that Haughty Hateful Clerk was eavesdropping then too.

1 comment:

PEZmama said...

It's all I can do not to snap back at folks like Ms. Haughty. Sorry you had to go through that.