I recently shipped a number of packages back from California, and the first place I went with my first two boxes to ship was the Post Office. Mistake number one. My second mistake was made while waiting in line for ten minutes holding two heavy packages and not writing my address on the boxes. I figured all I had to do was fill out a single form and then the postman would slap barcode labels on the boxes. Stupid me. You have to write the address on the box! “How else are they going to get there?” The guy was kind enough to take a couple Priority Mail labels, cut the Priority Mail headers off them and offer me a pen. Then he went on his lunch break and left me standing at an empty counter for another ten minutes. His replacement proceeded to bill me Priority Mail rates. When I objected, he pointed out that I had labeled the boxes using Priority Mail stickers. So I just bit the bullet, paid the guy and got the hell out of there. On my way out, someone tapped my on the shoulder and told me there was a UPS store right down the street.
The UPS store was a bit different. First off, there were three empty UPS 10-minutes or less parking spaces directly in front of the shop. At the Post Office, all available spaces in front were taken up by, you guessed it, post office trucks. I was blown away when the guy in the UPS Store came out with a hand truck and offered to help me unload my packages. Whoa! I then proceeded to fill out just one form, barcode labels were generated and slapped, and off my packages went. The store itself was quite, air conditioned, and the folks that worked there were super friendly. Nice.
The Post Office is proof the government should not be trusted to run basic services. They just can’t do it efficiently or cost effectively. I’m not sure what the Post Office costs us in terms of taxes, but I’m sure it’s a lot. Maybe we should strip the Post Office down to a most basic service – small letters totaling no more than a few ounces. Anything else needs to go through any number of commercial services. Maybe we could go the extra distance and figure out a way to do away with snail mail all together, then we could just “cancel” the Post Office all together. I think this philosophy should be applied to other services as well. In general, don’t let the government run them if it’s avoidable. Can you imagine the same inefficient organization running our healthcare system? If the U.S. Government can’t get a piece of paper from one side of the country to the other without loosing money, how well do you think they’ll do at providing basic healthcare to the masses?