Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Bureaucracy

My big plans for the day include two of my favorite public institutions:  a trip to the library & a trip to the post office.  It is astonishing to me how many people bad mouth both of these. 

A week or so ago, I was standing in line at the post office on a busy Saturday morning & the people in line behind me could not stop making unpleasant remarks about the recent postal hike.  Let me be clear that while this was a 15% increase, it amounted to a whopping $.07 & the gist of the remarks was that they should use some of that "big money" to hire more workers.  Seven cents.

As it happens, there WAS a new postal worker at the counter that day & I would be lying if I said I was all that impressed.  Every single transaction she had to call someone out to help her.  It got to the point where people in line were trying to walk her through it & so I do understand their frustration.  Still, it seemed a bit over the top; I honestly could not imagine anyone thinking it was OKay to act this way while in line for fast food or at a bank...

I have encountered similar attitudes at the library & found that even more people are disgruntled that free books, free internet access, free babysitting (I'm sorry, but it kinda is) does not mean the librarian will sit down & do your kids homework for him...or her....or you.  Seriously, I saw an actual mom making this actual complaint at the reference desk.  I am told it is not common, but it happens.  More common is the complaint that the librarians are not more closely supervising check-out choices. 

But this post is about the post office.  Because today in 1792 George Washington signed the RENEWAL of the Post Office as a cabinet department & making the Post Master General a permanent cabinet position.  In a sidebar, I have asked confederate flag fans far & wide to name the particular cabinet position that was wholly symbolic in confederacy as the area covered by this position was being overseen by the union counterpart. In areas controlled by the confederacy, the service was not provided by any agency.  I'm not faulting the rebels; I understand they were busy.  That flag did not redesign itself three times in four years.  Anyway, a handful of people HAVE answered that question.  All but one of them physicists who are avid civil war buffs (my social life is one very sad Venn diagram), the one that wasn't has a confederate flag frame for his license plate &does work on our place as needed.  They all knew that cabinet position & it was:  Post Master General of the Confederate States of America. 

So happy birthday Post Office.  I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that Ben Franklin (also the godfather of the public library) wanted to be sure his newspapers were delivered in a timely way so he could sell more.  I even forgive him for reading other people's mail, specifically, the King's Governor's mail. 

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