You really want the US Postal Service to go away?

USPS

I received this letter in the mail yesterday. I noticed the return address had two things; a PO Box and the ZIP Code.* That’s it.

A few days ago, I read some tweets in my stream where a few people were cheering on the demise of the US Postal Service. My gut reaction was “not so fast, everyone. The USPS — with all its faults — is still a pretty vital spine in our democracy.”

The letter I received underscored how sophisticated the USPS really is. With no more information than a PO Box and a ZIP Code, it can get a letter to the right person from anywhere in the world.

That is something that just didn’t happen by accident.

*Altered for some privacy

The US Post Office mangled their good news again

Owney the Dog USPS

Yesterday, The Rachel Maddow Show (with guest host Melissa Harris Perry) ran a story segment about Owney the Post Office dog. In short, a new stamp will be issued today with Owney’s image.

I’m not sure how easy it is for everyone else to get The Rachel Maddow Show to run a story about them, but they seem to be able to ignore any request from us at the Dog Walk Blog rather deftly. It might be the restraining orders, could be that we have not published any cool dog cocktail recipes or maybe they just don’t want annoying little English major sh*ts in the bullpen, correcting them at every turn..

I’m sure they have their reasons. Maybe you have to know someone, like Melissa’s dog Pebbles (does Pebbles have a twitter account?)

We got all excited and dashed off to USPS.com to buy a doghouse full of Owney stamps.

Nothing.

No promo, no front page links to the unveiling, nowhere to place advance orders. They received a ton of free media promoting a really cool story and they did nothing with it. Dogs have been maligned as tormenting carriers for decades and when they finally have a chance to make it right with the entire canine community, they blow it.

Eventually I found the Owney stamps in their store and placed an order, but I had to click around for a while. If anyone wants a personal note with an Owney attached, just DM me on twitter with a mailing address. When they come in, we’ll send them out.

No wonder the USPS finds itself closing offices, laying off workers and losing money. It is not competition from FedEx, UPS and email. It’s just not paying attention to the details.

BTW, here is the segment. And the 45322 post office has a sign that says “No dogs allowed.” Really.

Experts, experts everywhere

Yesterday on our afternoon walk, Sallie was having a bit of trouble walking straight and she was getting her leash all tangled up in my legs, so since we were only a block and a half away from home, I unsnapped it and kept walking. A few minutes later, I hear this woman yelling at me from half a block away,

“Excuse me, is that your dog??!!???”

I turned around to see a letter carrier from the US Post Office flailing her arms and yelling at me, “You gonna put him on a leash??”

What??!! We’re half a block away and we’re not bothering you. Really? Is it part of your job to enforce the leash laws in Englewood? Do you think the USPS uniform gives you the authority to yell at me? No wonder the US Post Office has problems getting the mail to the right mailbox; it employs police officer wannabes who are more interested in enforcing leash laws.

I turned back around and kept walking. So did Sallie and Charlie. I suspect that if I did not have Charlie with us, that crazy woman would have driven up and further tried to engage me on the leash laws. In hindsight, I’m not sure it was a good idea to piss this woman off.

Here is what I discovered that almost every other dog owner probably knows:

1. Everyone is an expert on leash laws and will go out of their way to tell you to abide by them.
2. Everyone is an expert on breed tendencies and will go out of their way to tell you what breeds your mutt is mixed with.
3. Everyone is a dog behavior expert. They all know how to make a dog heel, walk on a lead, do tricks, whatever. They’ve all seen Cesar Millan.

I don’t want to hear your opinion on anything about my dog unless you are willing to walk them three times a day, rain, snow, sleet, hail or fog, pick up their mounds of crap, pay for their food and vet bills and deal with their tiny bladders at 3:00am. I don’t want you talking to me when I’m on a walk because to my dogs, that is their job and they take it seriously. Believe me, the block can go without mail for a day, but not without a canine patrol.

I don’t care about what you think you know about dog training or behavior.

I want you to shut up and deliver the mail. Yelling at people walking their dogs half a block away and trying to enforce leash laws is not part of the “other duties as assigned” in your job description.

Let me know when I can yell at you about how to open a mailbox and put a letter in. I’m an expert in that.

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*Yeah, and if you are a letter carrier and feel the urge to comment about how dogs make your job difficult, blah, blah, blah, just don’t. Unless you can assert that MY dogs (specifically Charlie and Sallie) have impeded your letter-carrying duties, I simply don’t care. Other people’s dog behavior is not my responsibility. Deal with them.

How the US Postal Service blows its brand every December

USPS Santa Letter Box at Englewood OH 45322
USPS Santa Letter Box at Englewood OH 45322
Every December, Santa hands the US Postal Service a shiny new opportunity to rebrand itself as a lovable, caring organization that is an integral part of all 43,000+ Zip Codes it services. Every year, the USPS blows it terribly.

I found myself in the Englewood OH 45322 Post Office last Friday about 4:00pm. Ironically enough, I had forgotten it was Christmas and there might be a line. There was. But that was a good thing because it gave me an opportunity to look around, read all the signs on the walls, thumb through the FBI wanted sheets, straighten the certified mail postcards and Priority Mail envelopes and stickers. And then, I noticed a wrapped box on top of the glass case.

It was a box so kids can drop in their letters to Santa Claus. In truth, it was a spare box somebody found in the back. Perhaps another employee went to Big Lots and bought the cheapest wrapping paper they could find with Santa faces all over it, wrapped it hastily, punched a hole in the top and wrote “Santa Letters” on a card and glued it to the top.

What it should be is an opportunity that comes once a year that every postal employee is excited to be a part of.

What it should be is a old-tyme mail box, encrusted with candy canes and icicles, covered in snow with reindeer prints leading up to it.

What it should be is a production for every kid in the Zip Code area to go to their local Post Office to drop their one and only Santa letter into the magical mail box that only comes out the Friday after Thanksgiving and goes away when the post office closes the day before Christmas Eve.

What it should be is a tradition that kids mark on their calendar like an Easter egg hunt, their birthday and Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

The US Post Office — in Englewood, Oh anyway — has taken an opportunity to market itself for free and turned the Santa drop into an obligatory wrapped box, stuck on a glass counter, too high for most kids to reach and too nondescript for them to care about.

Don’t worry, Postmaster General John E. Potter, this little pesky holiday will be over in eleven days and all your postal workers can get back to work and quit worrying about kids coming in wanting to mail their letters to Santa Claus.

What are the little brats doing running around a post office anyways. Don’t they know there are lines to stand in, postal standards to adhere to and stupid questions about perishable or hazardous materials to answer?

Bonus Material:
This is some bonus material that was knocking around my brain, was kinda related, too much for a tweet and not enough for another blog post, so here goes.

Other unfriendly stuff I saw while waiting in line: FBI wanted sheets, sign that said: passports by appointment only! Hours: 10am-2pm, no Fridays, sign that said in all caps NO DOGS! (presumably cats are ok), a long list of crap we can’t mail, the rules of standing in line, including no cell phones… and the ever ubiquitous, but entirely unnecessary barking when it is your turn… “NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!!” *sigh*