Now, you'd think one of these would be the bank, right? The one place where we all expect to see Edward G. Robinson with a big cigar sticking out of his mouth, carrying an instrument case coincidentally the exact size of a Tommy gun, saying, "Button your lip and hand over da dough, Toots."
(And, yes, I do live in a 1940s Bugs Bunny episode. What's it to ya, rabbit?)
But around my area, the bank tellers are completely unhindered by bulletproof glass. They're out there in the open, handing out free lollipops... and toasters... and, well, ATM surcharges roughly equivalent to a semester of college tuition.
We could shake their hands for a job well done or clock 'em with the toaster for all the user fees. Our choice, really.
But nope, in my area, the two places where you have to actually mime all your needs through inches of transparent wall is...
The doctor's office and the post office.
I get the doctor's office. I do. It's so we, the public, do not transfer our cooties to the people who take our copayments and confirm that we haven't actually moved homes in the last five seconds. Potential Cootie Intraperson Route Detouring, they call it.
But there's a certain amount of irony that in the place where human interaction is so important, all the people who work there are preserved in Tupperware. You've come in with a sore throat and you can't just talk to the person. You've got to shout into an empty soup can and use semaphore for what doesn't translate.
What I think would be really cool would be to have it like a drive-through fast food restaurant, with some kind of fiberglass clown in scrubs you have to shout into its neck.
I mean, think how much more fun it would be if, instead of coming into the office and whipping out your semaphore flags--
"I... have.... a... ten... thirty.... appointment.... And.... Continental... Flight.... 207... from... Albuquerque... is... coming... in.... for.... a.... landing...at... gate... B... 12"
--You could just feed your insurance card into Doctor McFeelgoode's upper GI tract and call out what you need into his clavicle?
"Hi, I have a ten thirty appointment and I'd like a McFeelgoode penicillin shake and some antibiotifries-- stat!"
Now, as for the post office, I find the bulletproof glass there a little strange. I mean, what exactly are they worried about?
To protect the post office workers in case there's a holdup for Forever Stamps and the annual Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes entries?--
"Ed McMahon says this one could already be a winner. And I just know a dead guy wouldn't lie to me!"
Or maybe it's because of really dumb criminals looking to have their Wanted posters taken down so no one can ever identify them...
"You, mailman, you rip down that poster back there that looks like me and.... Oh."
The guy with the gun smiles sheepishly.
"Heh. Heh. No, That's my, er, identical twin brother... Er... Cheese-it, boys, it's the coppers!"
But, y'know, the plexiglass doesn't exactly make things easy, when you have something you actually need to get from the teller. I mean, you get your package by sliding your package slip into this slot—
"Two adult ride-all-day passes, please?... No? Oh, well, how about my box from Amazon then."
--And then CA-CHUNK! The tray shoots out and they take your slip and disappear into a backroom for a few days.
In that back room is where everything that ever went missing is stored. Like that sock that disappeared from your dryer last week, that's there.
And your cell phone which you thought your dog had hidden under the couch two years ago but which you still couldn't find when you actually moved the sofa, even though you found your sunglasses, 14 dollars in pennies, and a small box of Cheerios, that's there, too.
So they take your slip and compare it to all the missing socks of everyone in your neighborhood, and the cell phones, too, and they walk about 30 miles round trip until they eventually find the serial number that matches your package.
So I think the last reason that plexiglass is between you and post office personnel is so you aren't tempted to leap over the counter, rush into the backroom to the employees' aid, only to be never seen again.
"I'm going in. If you don't hear from me in two hours, send out the troops."
It's tricky back there, unless you have GPS or breadcrumbs. And the Post Office, as a government agency, doesn't want any liability for your safety.
And I can see where that might be of issue. So if you do decide to try it, just make sure you're catalogued with a serial number first.
Oh, while you're back there, if you happen to see one black and white stripey sock? That's mine. Write me up a package slip and I'll come get it.
I'll just need to remember my semaphore flags.