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Odious changes

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Change. I hate it.

I know, I’ve groused about change before, but it sure is getting worse with old age.

Do you know what the U.S. Postal Service has went and done to the simple task of holding mail? You may have heard that they’ll keep your mail safe for only 30 days before you have to come claim it or they deliver it all at once.

We’re planning a rather extensive trip to Europe later this year, and had hoped to stay in Germany for about 90 days. A friend is going to keep an eye on things while we’re gone and at the end of the first 30 days will pick up our mail at the post office, then renew the hold for another 30 days and so forth. He is himself a P.O. box holder and goes up there almost daily. No big deal.

“Can’t do it,” says Uncle Sam curtly. He repeated himself several times, then passed us on to the next clerk, who called in the superintendent. “Can’t do it,” he reiterated several times. “We can’t hold mail for more than 30 days.”

“I understand,” says I, who obviously didn’t. “Then start holding it another 30 days at the same time, or a day or a week later.”

“Can’t do it,”  he says again. Before he gave voice to the thought that was surely in the back of his mind – “What part of ‘Can’t do it’ do you not understand?”

I tried another tack. Why not just stick our mail in our friend’s box, not 10 feet from the sorting stations? That would be even easier.

Nope. The only other alternative would be to contact all our correspondents who might have reason to mail something to us while we’re gone. Can’t you just see friends receiving change of address notes from us, rerouting all our mail to Düsseldorf, Germany, then doing the same thing to get the mail sent back to us in Peachtree City, Georgia?

Don’t get me wrong. I have long been a fan of the U.S.P.S. I’ve never – well, hardly ever – complained about federal employees. The medical staff at National Institutes of Health were ’way beyond kind and caring when our daughter was there. And I’m the proud mother of a former employee of the U.S. Forest Service.

This problem with the postal service is probably the only time you’ve heard or will hear me complaining about the service. And I will stop feeling guilty about my extensive use of e-mail.

I just never would have expected such inanity from the U.S.P.S.

How did we solve our problem? We asked a neighbor to pick up our mail every few days and lob it into a bin we provided. I hate to do that, but I’d sure be ready to do it for her if she asked.

Now I have to leave you on a positive note, this one about a much lower scale of government. Our friendly city fire chief, Ed Eiswerth, invited us to come for a sort of house-warming party at the recently renovated fire station #4, a.k.a. Satterthwaite Station on North Hwy. 74, across from Kedron Village shopping center.

The city more than doubled the size of the original building, and it does look state-of-the-art. The equipment the big guys get to use has expanded far and beyond the tinker-toys we used in the 1970s through the 1990s. Sitting in the cab of the latest acquisition, Engine 4, I thought, You need to have a degree or be an engineer to know how to use this thing.

There were at least 25 firefighters (mostly on-duty staff) plus several others from “our day” at the gathering. Chief says everyone is cross-trained, i.e. firefighters are paramedics, EMTs drive the gargantuan engine trucks, water rescue people know how to function in haz-mat gear. Saying they are all trained the same doesn’t mean a tiny woman will drive the ladder truck, but she can. It means she’ll know enough about it to provide  support for whoever is operating it.

The chief called to one of these smaller scale firefighters. “What year were you born?” he asked her. “1980” was her reply. Dave and I, and some of the older personnel almost choked on their Sprite. “1980” was yesterday.

They don’t get any better than this crew. And dearest to my heart is the way they seem to appreciate us really old personnel. We’re part of the folklore that builds community.

Never thought I’d become a legend in my time.


Recently went out of town for 4 days and as I have done for the last 20 yrs, filled out my little card and requested mail be held until my return, checking the block that says "I will pick up my mail when I return..."
So, upon return, I stop by the Fayetteville Annex (where I always got it before) and there is a sign on the door that says "We are closing for the purpose of mail pickup--to arrange redelivery, call .....! When I got home, I called the Annex and the lady on duty says they will deliver my mail on Tuesday. I asked when this decision was made not to allow pickup at the Annex and she said she thought about a month ago. I asked if they announced or advertised that action and she said "I don't think so". No wonder they're losing money! That's no way to treat their customers but there I go expecting a Postal worker/supv to do some thinking--I should know better.

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