04 February 2009

Signs of the Imcompetence of the Red Hook Post Office

Fate was unkind to me last Saturday morning. I was compelled to visit the Red Hook post office, the temple of incompetence which serves much of South Brooklyn. I did not expect to enjoy a fruitful visit. And I did not. I was horrified upon entering to see a line of more than 20 people for basic services, and 10 people for the window to pick up packages (my destination). The usual Madame Tussauds wax figures were sitting beginning the service windows, doing their hilarious impression of postal workers.

Waiting as long as I did, I had plenty of time to contemplate exactly how lousy the Red Hook postal staff were at their job. And not just the stuff we expect them to stink at: delivering mail, finding packages, answering questions, being efficient. But everything! Including the upkeep of the station. Look at the windowsill and blinds above. (I did, for a long time.) They have not been dusted for months. They're filthy.

This television was obviously put in the lobby for the entertainment of waiting customers. But it was not on during my wait. Either it is broken, or no one bothered to turn it on. Nice work.

And look at this little beauty, taped next to the button designed to get the attention of a worker at the package claim window. How long do you think it took to make that fine piece of government work? Three seconds? Plus one second to tape the half-assed sign up? How long until it falls down completely? I don't know about you, but it would totally bug me to come to work every day and see that thing, and not fix it.

As usual, there was a lot of loud complaining about the lack of service, and, as usual, the workers didn't seem to care a whit. One lady waiting for a package said "Come On!" about once a minute, and kvetched for all to hear about how she was double-parked and had to get to C-Town to get a chicken before it was too late. (Too late for what?) She did this all from the vestibule, because the post office was "too hot" to wait in. Thus, she had to remind everybody constantly that she was in line, even though she actually wasn't. This is the sort of behavior the Red Hook post office engenders.

When I got to the front of the line, they found my package in a minute—a minor miracle. They had tried to deliver it once (while I was home!), and had given up after that. It is criminal that it is these people who don't have to worry about losing their jobs in this recession/depression.


Anonymous said...

You can thank the unions for that. The unions, which we're all supposed to praise for improving working people's lives... Ha!

Anonymous said...

You are not alone in this frustration. My local post office in the Bronx is badly managed--although they do seem to clean it sometimes with obnoxious disinfectant. And the carrier responsible for delivering my mail has made it clear that getting the mail to the correct addressees is not really her responsibility as she sees it. Years ago there were complaint forms that could be sent to the Postmaster General but these have been done away with.

BestViewInBrooklyn said...

Wow. That PO has gone downhill since I lived in its jurisdiction. I have my PO on schedule for a post as well. I guess they're pretty slow all around.

I also receive those slips when I'm home. I recently got a final notice that was also a first notice. The package had been mailed 12/15/08...I got it 1/20/09.

Anonymous said...

I recently hada similar visit to my post of office in kensington. The worker who was suppose to work the pick up window called out and they didnt bother to replace anyone at the window. even though 50% of the customers were there to pick up packages. It would be nice to make them have to actually work for their dollar, instead of chit chat about their "girlfriends" and getting their nails did. screw the unions

Anonymous said...

Benjamin, kindly go fuck yourself or explain an alternative labor history that happily relies upon the beneficence of bosses. That doesn't mean some union leadership etc aren't crooks themselves but, please, for the ignorant among us, a little detail?

Also, I'm a little slow at my age (85), why are there so many black folks who work for USPS? A brief explanation will do, no need to get all David Levering Lewis about it.

Brooks, come on, you're better than this! (Tho' you're right to wonder about that chicken.) Compare and contrast Red Hook P.O. to those throughout BK and the other boroughs. Hint: almost all of them are a nightmare if you hit 'em wrong.

Why? Well, you are posting this on February 4-- Saturday was what day then? January 31?

Do the Lost City readers know what happens in nearly every NYC post offices when the end of the month comes?

They're called MONEY ORDERS. Now I don't know how many of people were in line for them right then but in general, they will slow things down considerably.

I've walked in Red Hook post office in the afternoon and been the only customer there. And I've walked in with 20 people waiting and walked right out.

Go to the Red Hook library branch next time and wait it out, they're good people and you can try again later. Or bring a book and enjoy a free anthropology course.

Post Office ** MANAGEMENT ** has a lot of problems but you're totally wrong about most of the individual clerks there and most of the post offices (at least in Brooklyn and the Bronx, which are the ones I'm most familiar with).


Caz Dolowicz
Who Walk In Brooklyn

P.S: Benjamin, might want to give some non-union cops the call next time you smell trouble-- let's see how that works out for you.

Anonymous said...

What a Horror story !
I think there is a website from
Brooklyn Postal customers about their
lack of service from these Zombies.
It's the"This ain't really my job"
attitude behind the counters and on
the push wagon that delivers your mail.

Another insult to our intelligence
is the doing away with all the "stamp purchase" machines last November 21st.
Yup! right before the holiday mail.

I would suggest you not mail from
Brooklyn but take the bridge walk
to any Manhattan postal box and drop your mail inside.
And pray!

Ah by the way have you ever tried
applying for Medicaid? if you want
what bizzaro attitudes are and pain.

Hadj said...

I've suffered with the Red Hook Post Office for 3 years now -- It took them two weeks to deliver my package, after I called them to redeliver, the woman told me to "call in the morning" or go online to set up the redelivery.

Never bother with the online redelivery notice wtih these people. And calling the next day resulted entirely in phone messages. However, just keep calling, and eventually they will put something out to be redelivered. And be as polite as humanly possible.

After all, these people resent you for existing, so try to lighten their load, as they do have power over your mail. Argh!

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Caz: I posted your comment in spite of your abuse of Benjamin (Please don't do that again). Three things: I know the other Bklyn post offices are nightmares, but I deal with this one, so I write about it; I've never visited the Red Hook post office and had a good or speedy experience; and, I was waiting long enough to overhear what people were waiting in line for. Nobody was dealing in money orders.

Anonymous said...

That's my post office as well and I agree that it can be painfully slow. But never as bad as my old PO on East 14th St in Manhattan. I've noticed that some branches are far better than others. I really think it is the mangement level at the location that makes a difference, not the fact that they are unionized.

But here is a helpful hint for packages: Just go online and ask for a redelivery. It really works! You can request a specific day when someone will be home. I've never had a problem. (Btw, you can also arrange for pickup of packages if you ship a lot.)


The Never Sleepist said...

Blaming post office workers for the incompetence of the service/conditions etc. is like blaming a waitress for lousy food. If postal service sucks all over the city (and it does, even at tonier locations like 68th and Columbus Avenue) then it's the postal service at fault, not the workers.
Do I really have to explain this?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Sorry, Never Sleepist, but that's absolute nonsense. However poor the employer, each employee has a will of their own and can function at whatever level they choose. I don't care how the postal workers have been trained (well, I do, but that's not the point)—it does not wholly explain the lousy job they do. Giving a damn is entirely up to the individual.