Postal Service Says You Can't Go Home Again. Like Ever.

It's been a challenging week. And by challenging, I mean more involved planning, elaborate precision, multi-tiered problem solving, and gut-wrenching roadblocks than a caper film involving Mini cars and big explosions.

Only without, y'know, the fun.

(Or Mark Wahlberg and his one facial expression.)

But hey-- I successfully moved my Dad from the Florida Keys to here in Pittsburgh, without actually flipping out on my relatives who tell me to "let them know if there's anything they can do to help Dad, only they're not sure what they can do because they're so very far away, and are really busy, and have a new washer and drier delivered tomorrow, and need to be there for that, so good luck with everything okay thanks bub-bye."

But I didn't blog to tell you about my Mr. Hyde inner rage.

I'm blogging today to tell you about the amusing bit of bureaucracy I ran into at a Florida Keys post office on Friday.

The goal had been simply to get Dad's mail routed to my address while he's here in Pittsburgh for cancer treatment. So I filled out the form and Dad signed it and we approached the bright and shiny front desk.

There, the postal worker-- a lady who looked sun-blighted from years in the Keys, or her color possibly drained from Post Office Customer Service and dealing with people like me-- examined the form and said to Dad:

"So you're leaving the Keys forever, huh? Well, good luck!"

I blinked. "Excuse me?"

She indicated Dad. "He's not coming back, right?"

I wondered if she knew more about Dad's medical diagnosis right now than we did. Maybe she was like that cat I read about in the news who could just tell who the next person in the hospital would be to snuff it.

"Um, we don't know yet," I said, puzzled. "He might, but we don't know when. That's why we didn't choose the option where you have to fill in a date to start routing his mail back here."

"You checked Permanent. He's moving away permanently. So he can't come back," she told me.

Now, by this point in the day, I had already:
  • Walked about a mile to get Dad's car from the hospital parking lot and drive it back to his house
  • Run numerous errands
  • Personally dropped off the man's water bill and electric bill payments because he insisted that no one should spend the stamps to mail them when it was so easy for me to just run in.
I had flown through a tropical storm to get there, was working on not enough sleep on Dad's dusty sofa, and my stomach was roaring like a grizzly bear on picnic grounds...

I was a woman on the edge.

"Can't come BACK?!" I asked.

Dad saw the inner Hyde emerging and assured me, "She's kidding."

I said, "I don't have a sense of humor right now. It's moved. And it's checked the Permanent box."

But the Post Office Worker was not smiling. "I'm serious. He can't come back. Once that box is checked, we can never route his mail back there again. We need a date when he'll return."

"But I don't know the date when he'll return," I said. "People move all the time and never have an idea when they'll be where. How can I know what that date is? I am not Nostradamus!"

But she just said how this was a much better system than it was before, and the fact we hadn't needed to write a date in the previous system was WRONG, and this now is RIGHT and the most efficient way of doing things and...

"Is Eric Idle back there?" I asked the heavens. "Is Michael Palin or John Cleese going to pop out and say, 'And now for something completely different...'? Please tell me they are."

But she didn't seem to know those guys. Perhaps they worked there before she joined the USPS.

Eventually, we agreed to choose a completely arbitrary date in the future, which she says I will only now have to remember to change and update before it comes due-- making this system, thus, so very easy and user-friendly and far superior to the previous system and...

Dad was tugging me to the door.

I've heard that phrase, "You can't go home again."

Guess our friends in the Postal Service take that to the letter.


Beer Drinker Rob said...

Hey Jenn.

Sorry to hear about your dad. Glad you got the arrangements set up.

And glad you got a good dose of Florida, too. Can't think of anything nicer. I bet it's doubly fun down in the Keys. I can't wait to move out of this place!

Now, when you do remember to update the move back date, be sure not to schedule for a Saturday. (I'm betting that Saturdays will not be an option anymore by then).

Take care.

ReformingGeek said...

Great Googly Moogly! I would have popped a blood vessel....and then written in some date after the expected end of the world....

Unfortunately, the humorless clerk would not have gotten that joke either.

I think the post office is going to obsolete themselves on their service record alone.

Unknown said...

Rob- The Keys are absolutely beautiful... as long as you don't need to get anything done. :) Is a move from the Sunshine State on your horizon?

ReformingGeek- I was pretty close to blood vessel poppage. And most of the time I try to be patient with these kinds of things because I know it's not easy to be in Customer Service in any business. But CRIKEY!

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

Oh, Jenn I just want to hug you. And hug your Dad. And lob a brick straight at the head of the postal lady. I would be a perfect aim. Did I just say that?

And p.s., I'm of the opinion that you don't get to say "Can I do anything for you?" if you don't actually mean anything. And that means shopping for a certain hard-to-find ice cream if someone just has to have it. Just saying.

Jenn Thorson said...

Kathy- Heh, I accept the virtual hug. :) Yeah, I too was really close to having a complete shouting meltdown there in the Post-Office. I think my eyes went red like the Hulk for a minute. :)

I think lots of people offer stuff they don't intend on following through with because they can't emotionally handle it or just don't know what else to say. I'm okay with that SO LONG as it doesn't KEEP coming up in conversation-- where each time it just becomes that much more obvious it's air.

Jaffer said...

Well, if I was your relative I'd have said the same thing and immediately order a washer and dryer - actually I was home today to receive a package for my brother - the box is slightly bigger than our mother.

Anywhoo ... that postal worker sure was intrusive. Over here in Canada, they will only re-route mail for 3 months and within that time it's our responsibility to let everyone we know the change of address.
And after that - who knows what happens to undelivered mail - perhaps they send it to that jolly old man who lives at the mysterious postal code: H0H0H0

Which ofcourse is more funny because in reality it's in Montréal

Anonymous said...

I think the clerk, if she wasn't having a little fun with you with the best poker face in the world, was just an idiot.

That bit would make a good stand-up routine, though, or a good inclusion when you decide to write a book :)

Melanie said...

Speaking as a former postal service employee, I can only say, there's no excuse for that sort of bitchiness on the clerk's part. You on the other hand have every right to blow a blood vessel!!!!

Just so you know, when you move your dad back to florida, you can do all that nasty change of address stuff online.

timethief said...

OMG! What a scenario to have gone through. Thanksgoodness you do have such a great sense of humor Jenn because just reading this made my blood pressure soar.

Whatever you do don't forget that future date. Write it down and put it in your safety deposit box.

P.S. Best wishes to both you and your dad. I gope his treamnet gies well and is successful too.

Nick said...

It's the Postal Service - what were you expecting, service of a postal nature?

Been through all that (the illness) with my mother. Not fun :(

Unknown said...

Jaffer- He didn't SEND you Mom, did he? I hope he poked in air holes!

Doug- I'm pretty good at telling when folks were joking, and given how jazzed she was about this new policy, I think she wasn't being funny. At least I got a post out of it! :)

Melanie- Yeah, that's what I found out-- which is great! I'd much rather deal with it where I can just shout at my computer. :)

TT- Thanks much! We're hanging in there. It's amazing what passes for logic in large organizations, eh?

Nick- Thanks for visiting. Yeah, those silly expectations of actual... service. I deal with some very nice, helpful postal workers up here in PA, so I guess I wasn't properly braced for this.