If you were an entrepreneur I?d wager you?d gladly invest in a business in which people would wait silently for 30 minutes to buy $3.95 worth of merchandise from bored counter clerks who wander absently away from their desks leaving but one colleague to deal with a line of 25-30 frustrated customers. This is an operation which has a store in every town or village in America yet complains in a rather whining tone that it is losing its core business to upstarts with brightly painted vehicles and smiling operatives in matching brown short / shirt outfits.
Of course we?re talking about the US Postal Service.
I needed to send a package of receipts and other paper-work to my accountant across town – a distance of six miles. Unfortunately the package weighed more than a pound and since that nasty Unabomber business a few years back this meant that I couldn?t put the stamps on the package at home – I had to go to the Post Office.
So I parked my car in the ?20 minutes parking – Post Office customers only? parking lot and joined the end of the line. A mere 30 minutes later I was able to purchase my stamps and leave. The line behind me had now extended to over 30 people.
Irony #1: There?s a notice in the USPS parking lot that warns you that if you spend more than 20 minutes in the aforementioned parking spots you?ll get your car towed. Have you ever spent LESS than 20 minutes in a Post Office? This must surely be the next profit centre for the USPS – they could rightly tow the car of every customer who visits their establishment. Turn a $5-00 profit on every towing and the USPS would be on top of the Fortune 500 in no time.
Irony #2: Lance Armstrong, Mr. USPS himself, recently rode the 2,500 miles of the Tour De France at an average speed of 24 miles an hour. Now if, instead of standing in line for 30 minutes to get stamps, I?d given Lance my package (which would easily have fitted in the back of his USPS cycling jersey) he could have ridden to my accountant?s office AND BACK in the same 30 minutes! Now I know why the USPS is sponsoring a cycling team…
Irony #3: When I emerged back into the sunlight blinking and weary I was relieved to find that the USPS parking operatives were thankfully as slow as their desk-bound counterparts and were still trying to find a tow truck to remove my car. Then it hit me. If I?d just split the package into TWO envelopes, which would have each weighed less than a pound, I could have mailed the package from my home!
But then I?d need stamps for that wouldn?t I?