This post is a guest post, written by my Dad. You can read his last guest post here.
First, let me say that I am, for the most part, a person who appreciates the various functions of the different levels of government.
For instance, I don’t have to worry too much about national security, knowing that our armed forces are the best trained and best equipped in the world.
Our local police and sheriff’s departments do a great job at preventing total anarchy and lawlessness.
I know first hand how our system of roads, highways and interstates allow us to move wherever, whenever we want.
Believe me, this is not the case for most of the rest of the world! As a general rule, up till this point anyway, I haven’t complained a lot about our taxes because I know that they are used to pay for all of the services and infrastructure we all too often take for granted.
However, last week, I had opportunity to witness our federal government at work, (though at a very local level) in a way that made me shake my head and just walk away.
I needed to return an item to California. It was a car fender that had been shipped to me in error, valued at around $75.00. The box in which it was packaged was relatively large but light, about 12 pounds. It measured about four feet by two feet by six inches.
I decided to take it to my small, local post office, reasoning that they would not be too busy to give me their full attention.
I was right – I was the only customer. What I did not know was that the regular postmaster (post-mistress?) was not there that day and a substitute had come in from a different location. She was very pleasant with lots of small talk, but when I asked to mail the box she immediately responded that it was “too big”. I explained to her that it couldn’t be too big because I had received the same box through the mail only a day or two before.
A blank look came over her face.
She went slowly to the back of the small, one room office and retrieved a three ring binder from a safe that looked as if it had been around when Butch and Sundance were alive. After several minutes of thumbing through the procedures manual, she decided that if she could confirm the weight she could use that as a basis of calculating the shipping charge.
She shuffled back across the room and retrieved a large ring of keys from the desk drawer. After trying at least a dozen keys, she was finally able to open the one (and only) door from the office to the lobby.
I offered to carry the bulky box in, but was told with much sternness that ONLY authorized United States Postal Service employees were allowed in the office. She then slid the box in and locked the door between us.
I watched as she attempted to pick up the box and put it on the scale that was on the counter. The problem was the cabinet above the counter and the scale. The box was too tall to sit on the scale without hitting the cabinet. She tried laying the box down, but then the box covered the weight readout.
I suggested moving the scale (about the size of a bathroom scale) to the floor, but was informed that this was a counter scale, not a floor scale. After about five minutes of this, out came the three-ring binder again.
She located a formula that calculated the cost by multiplying the length x width x height, then multiplying by .735. She went back to the desk to try to find a measuring device. She located an old cloth tape measure similar to the one my grandmother used as a seamstress. She walked slowly back to the box, then stopped. She stood there for a minute, then asked: “ which is the length?”
Maybe she saw something in my face that worried her (postal workers need this sixth sense, I hear) and she turned quickly back to making her measurements. After about five minutes of measuring, and another five minutes of calculating, she turned to me and said (with a straight face, mind you),
“That will be nineteen thousand, three hundred and sixty three dollars and 45 cents.”
Stunned, but trying to stifle a laugh, I said: “Lady, there must be some mistake!” She went back to the calculator. “You are right, I got the decimal place wrong – it is nineteen HUNDRED thirty six dollars and thirty five cents. Would you like to write a check or we take VISA.”
As I carried the box back to my truck, I looked at the time. It had been 47 minutes since I first arrived. As I drove off, Glenn Beck was on the radio explaining how the government is trying to take over our health care system.