Post office follies

There are many things I love about the city where I live, but my local post office isn't one of them. It's no stretch to say that I've never had such indifferent terrible service from a post office as I have since moving here. It wasn't always like this; when I lived here in the 1990s, I never had a problem. Something must have happened in the interim.

My first inkling that something was amiss was in 2003, when I graduated from UCSB. The university mailed my diploma, and it arrived on a rainy afternoon looking as if it had been dropped in a puddle and dragged through the mud, this despite the fact that my front porch is well-shielded from the elements on the 2nd floor. When I went to the post office to complain, I got the most thorough stonewalling I've ever encountered from a government employee, and came to the conclusion that whatever happened, the local staff would simply cover for each other and nothing would happen to change that.

Then there was the time I was home from work, and waiting for a package to arrive. Late in the afternoon, I went to the mailbox to find a note that my package had been left at the office because it had to be signed for and there was no answer at the delivery address. Small problem: I was home all day, and my doorbell never rang. Another time packages for multiple addresses were left in a box by the office door, in clear view of a rather busy street. Anyone could have helped themselves. Perhaps you are beginning to understand why I'm less than thrilled with this particular post office?

So I started taking steps to ensure that as little of my business as possible would be sent through the U.S. Postal Service. My bills now are largely electronic, and when I have to ship something, it goes UPS or FedEx. It isn't much, but it's all I can do, and it makes me feel a little better.

Lately, they've come up with a new trick. Bulk mail is being left bundled on the ground underneath our mailboxes. This has happened several times now, and I recently decided to start documenting it on the theory that if I ever again have a problem worth complaining about, I'll have photographic evidence that the local P.O. is slacking off on the job. It's not that I love having my mailbox stuffed with junk mail, but it _does_ make me wonder about how my other mail is being handled. I'm sure that it must be a violation of some kind of postal regulation, since bulk mail is still mail that is supposed to be delivered.

Anyway, here's what I saw today (the first two photos are reversed, because they were taken through my side view mirror):

The USPS delivering mail to my apartment complex. Notice the bundles under the mailboxes.

The intrepid postal carrier finishing up before driving away. Notice the bundles are still under the mailboxes.

Bulk mail bundles left under the mailboxes after the carrier has driven away. I wonder what the advertiser (our local paper) would think about how its mail is being handled?

I'd say he was in a hurry, but he seemed to have time to set up and take down his iPod speakers (not visible in the photos). As I said, this isn't the first time it's happened. It's happened on several other occasions; the last time I documented it was back in November, and you can see those photos here.

This, however, is not the end of the story. Five months ago, my wife and I mailed a package from upstate New York containing various vacation souvenirs. It never arrived. I had foolishly failed to ask for a tracking number, so it could not be tracked and I assumed it was lost. Today, a little more than five months to the day since mailing it, it showed up at my brother's place in New York (I used his address as the return address). It was stamped "Unable to be delivered." This despite the fact that it was, you guessed it, correctly addressed. I can only surmise that our postal carrier (see above photos) couldn't be bothered to actually, you know, deliver it to my doorstep. It must have been easier to return it to New York, which I assume was done via pack mule since it took five bloody months to show up.

The upshot of all this, if there is one, is this: our local post office sucks out loud, and I'm sick of it. I'm tired of accepting substandard service from poorly supervised government employees who know that, for all practical purposes, they can't be fired. If there was a way I could remove the Ventura post office from my life entirely, I'd do so in a heartbeat. I'd gladly pay more for better service, but unfortunately our government has not yet seen fit to privatize the post office and open it up to competition. So I will continue to avoid doing business with the USPS wherever possible, and I'll continue to document its shortcomings right here.

And if you work for the Ventura post office--East Ventura, Wake Forest Avenue--be sure to smile for the camera. I'm watching. :)