So, I innocently appear at our local, neighborhood Post Office a couple of weeks ago. My mission, super simple: I needed to purchase Christmas stamps for cards we planned to mail--you know, the kind that shamelessly picture and brag about your grandchildren!
After waiting my turn in line, I approach the postal clerk and declare my need for 100 stamps.
"Sorry sir, we don't have any stamps today," the woman behind the counter declared with a touch of sadness in her voice. I get that part!
"Did I hear you correctly? You are a post office and you have no postage stamps?" I asked incredulously.
"Yes sir, I'm afraid so," she replied. "We hope to have some by Tuesday."
"Hope" to have stamps at a post office?
Hmmm. Something about "I'll gladly repay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" drifts into my mind out of my cartoon-shaped mind/soul.
So, being a lifelong supporter of the U. S. Postal Service and of the tireless men and women who deliver my mail on a daily basis, I accept the disappointing news and retreat to my car, vowing to return on Tuesday.
I don't make it back until Thursday.
Again, I present myself with my simple request when my turn comes: "Yes, I need 100 Christmas stamps," I declare with the confidence of a man eager to show off his grandchildren to a few dozen friends.
"Sir, I'm sorry, but we have no stamps today. We expect a delivery by Friday," the postal clerk wearily explained.
I bet she was tired!
Can you image the thought of a Post Office without stamps!
By now I am beside myself.
I didn't take out my frustration on the depressed clerk, but I did call the local Postmaster's office. I got connected, after a rather long wait, to a gentleman who doubtless had received calls from frustrated patrons such as me possibly all day long!
"You know, sir, the stamps have to come from Kansas City," he explained.
Is this really my problem?
I started to explain what UPS could do for the USPS, but thought cynicism might send the gent over the edge, so I resisted the temptation.
"I think I have discovered the basic problem with the USPS," I told the rather short-tempered man on the other end of the line. "You can't even address the basics of your core business--selling stamps!"
"Selling stamps is not our 'core business' any longer," he explained. "What with on-line payments, etc., we just aren't in the same business as before."
Still, a P. O. with no stamps? This isn't sounding good for my Christmas cards, and the photos of my 4 adorable grandchildren are so great this year!
This entire experience has set me thinking again about life in poorer neighborhoods that marginalized folks call "home."
Frankly, just about everything is like a P. O. with no stamps!
No grocery stores, and the corner convenience stores don't have what a person needs and what is there is overpriced and unhealthy.
Little code enforcement, especially on slum landlords. Try to bring a legal case against an unscrupulous landlord and see how far you get.
Streets surely in cahoots with front-end shops given the number and the depth of the potholes.
Schools in disrepair both physically and academically.
Safety and crime prevention statistics downright depressing.
Post offices without stamps?
What do you think?
I think its time we expected more and better.
I know one thing, I never wanted for postage when I lived in Richardson!
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Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
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