Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Whatever happened to Ordinary?

First, some prompts:

1.One blue Nissan sedan, a plot of daffodils, two wild rabbits, and a three year old.
2. Robert Sean Leonard has knocked on your door, carrying a jar of tomato sauce and a violin bow. What happens next?

Whatever happened to the day when you could go into a place of business and perform a simple transaction? The other day, I was at the post office, mailing off a book. I pick up the envelope, address it, and walk up to the teller, at which point, I open the envelope, stick the book in, and seal it. I then hand the envelope to the teller, who says,

"Do you have anything liquid, fragile, or perishable in here?"

I stared at her. I mean, she just saw me put the book (and only the book) into the envelope. What on earth did she think could be liquid, fragile, or perishable about it? The only possible way to ruin it would be if someone along the way spilled something liquid on it, and if that were the case, I don't think mine would be the only thing ruined. I realize she's required to ask that, but I'm a little baffled at how policy flies in the face of common sense sometimes.

Then she asks, "Do you want it insured or certified in case anything were to happen to it?"

Hadn't I just said it wasn't fragile or perishable? What on earth could happen to it? "No," I say. "It's just a book. I don't need it insured. And I don't need to know when the recipient receives it."

"Would you like it to go priority or express so that it will arrive within a certain time, like before tomorrow at 3?"

A vague headache begins behind my eyes, and I stare at her (because really the only reason I was at the Post Office at all was because I didn't know how much postage it would need -- I really didn't foresee it being this big of an issue for her). "NO. It doesn't need to get there before a certain time. There's nothing special about it. IT'S JUST A BOOK. Send it in regular mail."

At which point, she stares at me, like I cannot possibly understand the importance of the decision I am making -- the decision which clearly signifies life or death for myriads of innocents, and (most importantly) denies the USPS a chance to make more money and says, "There is no regular mail. You have to pick which way you want it sent." A pause. "Would you like me to send it First Class?"

No regular mail. This is complete news to me. A complete and utter surprise. I have always considered First Class to be synonymous with "regular mail." Ummm, ok. Whatever. I nod, and she rings me up. "That will be $2.75, please." (I had to buy the envelope too.)

As long as it gets to Florida. But seriously, whatever happened to regular and ordinary?

1 comment:

jen said...

Ahhhh...remember when there was "book rate"