Going Postal

by admin on March 29, 2011

Just a quick note from the Admin before we proceed to today’s story….I am not approving comments for yesterday’s post that involve major rants about specific religions or their beliefs.  So, emails and private comments to me whining piteously that you are being censored will be ignored.

This next storyteller writes so well you almost feel like you are right there in line with her…

Down the street from my office there is a small postal store. On most days at most times there is only one person manning the counter there, and there is usually a line. Sometimes this goes quickly and other times not depending on the nature of the customer transactions. Most everyone who uses this little store knows this already and comes prepared to wait patiently. I have seen people come in with a book or magazine to read while in line while others entertain themselves with cell phone games, texting, or emails until it is their turn. The main post office is about a mile (or less) walk from here, and if you’re in a hurry your best bet is to go there or come back later.

Today I went in to mail something to a friend. It was lunch time and I expected the line to be long. I was not disappointed. I grab my packing materials and pack up and address my stuff as I wait. The two patrons in front of me that will figure into this story were a girl with a box and carrying a shopping bag with tissue paper…which tells me she just wrapped whatever she put into the box — and a man who was looking to send something overnight. As the line starts behind me, the Banshee gets into line directly behind me. I know her name, as she was dumb enough to answer her phone with it later, but see no reason to give it here. Banshee will suffice. We aren’t in line more than a few minutes before she starts up.  Loud, heavy sighs about every 30 seconds. This turns into sighs combined with mumbling under her breath about how “this is ridiculous,” “jesus!” and varying other combinations of swear words. I keep my face forward, smirking, but that doesn’t last long as her whining is starting to become an annoyance. No one ever goes to the post office expecting to be in and out unless you’re just dropping something in the collection box. In the meantime, the poor, lone worker is doing her best to churn through this line.

At this point, the girl with the box, let’s call her BG for short, has her turn. Her box is not taped, her paperwork not filled out. The worker tells her to step to the side, tape up her box, fill out her paperwork, and then come back to the front of the line. As the worker tries to find the tape for BG, Banshee is getting irritated. As BG works on her stuff, the guy with the overnight stuff (OG) steps up to the counter. Due to a misunderstanding of how it works, OG grabbed the wrong envelope and is also shuffled off to the side to fix it. By now, BG is ready and returns to the window. She tells the postal worker that she wants to charge this package to a corporate account, and as the worker starts to do whatever it is she needs to do BG asks if she can tape more. This causes a ripple through the waiting line, mostly people silently rolling their eyes. But not the Banshee. No, the Banshee loudly exclaims, “How stupid are you?!” BG doesn’t turn around and works on making her box able to withstand a nuclear bomb via tape protection alone. She then realizes that her meter is running out and dashes off to top it up while the worker continues to get the mailing slips ready. I’m not sure why this process is taking this long but I’m assuming it has to do with the charging to a corporate account.

When BG returns, Banshee is furious. Her sighs and mutterings have not been acknowledged and this seems to irritate her. This is when things start to get really bad. Banshee whips out her cell phone and calls a friend.

“Can you believe I’m still at the post office? There’s only one f*****g person working the counter and this stupid bitch is holding up the line taping up her box and doing who the hell knows what. If this were Rockefeller Center they’d kick her out!”

All of this is loud enough for both the postal worker and BG to hear. BG handles this with grace, never turning around, but the rest of us are appalled. I am secretly hoping the postal worker will tell Banshee to leave immediately, but it doesn’t happen. Banshee hangs up smugly, as if her mission to publicly humiliate BG was complete and calling a friend was the perfect cover she needed to loudly express her feelings. BG decides she also needs stamps, and when her transaction is finally to the stage where you pay…she decides to write a check. Banshee explodes!

“She’s writing a f*****g check?! SERIOUSLY?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”

Another silent plea for the worker to boot her…nothing. Damn it. BG finishes and leaves, never looking back. Now OG finishes his transaction and she is displeased with how long it takes him even though he was only there less than 5 minutes finishing up. She is still bitching under her breath. My turn finally and I take less than 5 minutes from start to finish. As I leave I hear her stomp up to the counter and ask how much it was to send something via the different services, much to the irritation of those behind her as she was now holding THEM up. But of course it was okay that she was doing it. Don’t we all know how important she is?! I wanted to turn around and say something to her — such as congratulating her on her horrifying lack of manners and inability to behave properly in public and my condolences for being raised by wolves as she was insulting the noble bearing of a wolf — but I know that etiquette dictates that to be rude to someone who has been rude is just as bad as the original act. So I held my tongue because, unlike Banshee, I was raised with manners.  0328-11

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

WithMyEyesOpen March 29, 2011 at 10:36 am

How rude. But – postal service is just a regular store as any other store. So people can spend as much time purchasing post stamps, tape, asking questions and generally doing their own business as they want. No one is ushering you from the store, when you are trying several different dresses and “holding” the dressing room. If I would be the BG, as she seems the main source of Banshees rudeness, I will turn around and tell her exactly this. If someone doesn’t like waiting in line in the small post office, go to the bigger office. Or do your business online. Simple :)

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ashley March 29, 2011 at 10:40 am

Banshee must not be very familiar with how things go at post offices lol. Bless the BG and the OP for handeling it so gracefully and whoever was running that line must have the patience of a saint! o.o

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Just Laura March 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

I’d like to applaud this submitter as someone who is capable of forming a coherent and entertaining story. Sorry you had to put up with that.

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ElizaJane March 29, 2011 at 10:55 am

I think BG’s behavior was certainly as bad as Banshee’s. She must have known that she was holding up a whole line of people with her antics and didn’t care. She could have let her meter expire, she could have gone back another day for her stamps. She was at least as center of the world as Banshee was.

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Erin March 29, 2011 at 10:57 am

If you hadn’t specified Banshee was female, I’d swear you were talking about my dad…*shudder*

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LovleAnjel March 29, 2011 at 10:59 am

I would be annoyed if someone came with their package unprepared for shipping. But, I wouldn’t be rude like the Banshee. I admit to quietly sighing while in PO lines, even sending texts about my frustration (this chick doesn’t even have her box taped up! can you believe it?). I have sometimes exchanged glances with the other patrons in line (raised eyebrows, slight shake of the head) but I would never be so nasty as to announce my feelings loud enough for other people to hear! How rude.

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Michelle P March 29, 2011 at 11:07 am

Love the OP’s clarity, I know the rudeness was awful but I have to say that was entertaining.

Similar situation: I was once in line right before Christmas. Gee, wonder if it’s going to be busy??? The stamp machines in the lobby were always broken, but there are other places to buy stamps. Anyway, once I was near the front of a very long line, and a woman near the back was doing the Banshee routine; sighing, groaning, mumbling. Right as I got to the front (I was mailing a package overseas), she spoke to me (loudly), “Ma’am, in the interest of the Christmas spirit, would you be kind enough to purchase stamps for me while you’re up there?” I was so flustered at her asking in front of everyone I didn’t know what to say. At least she was polite in her words. I did say (truthfully) that I wasn’t purchasing anything right away; I had to go through paperwork to send my package internationally and I wouldn’t be at the cashier immediately. I thought that was the end of it. Oh, no. When I get done and I go to the cashier, she leans over and hands me the money. The postal worker (I knew them fairly well and they were great) rolls his eyes and I just didn’t know what to do. He said, “I shouldn’t do it for her but I will.” I said, “Will you do it for me? Please, so I can just go?” He got the hint that I just wanted her to leave me alone, and did it. I thanked him. When I handed her the stamps on my way out, I expected a profuse thank you to myself and him. What does she say? Ranting and raving about the stamp machines and his attitude. “If I was in New York this wouldn’t happen!” I (being sarcastic, my own faux pas), said “Sorry it took so long and you had to wait!” She actually thought I was really being apologetic and said, “That’s ok, I know the postmaster!” Good grief. I know I should have told her no, but how do you do that when you’re on the spot? I felt bad for everyone else; they had to wait and so did I, but oh no, she can’t! I had forgotten something and went back in a little later, the postal guys were talking about it. I apologized to him for putting him in the position; I said when she put me on the spot I just got flustered. He said it was fine, but she had been in there before and was worse!

Admin and readers: what does one say in that situation?

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Ashley March 29, 2011 at 11:10 am

There was a bank near me that worked in a similar fashion, though thankfully it wasn’t a daily thing. If you arrived at this bank any time between noon and 2pm on a Saturday, there was a pretty good chance you would be waiting a while. This was not due to a lack of competence on the bank workers fault, all branches of this particular bank are known for having very efficient customer service. It was all due to the fact that Saturdays between noon and 2pm seemed to be when most people decided they need to do their banking. Most of us are more than used to it. I work Saturdays, and I often save the offices banking until then. So those of us who are used to it go up to the counter, get our slips, then fill them out in line, all while cracking the usual jokes about lines (“Oh, it looks like the whole town decided RIGHT now would be a good time to visit the bank, hahaha”). Occasionally though, you get the one person who isn’t used to it, and then the whole time you hear them sighing and complaining. The particular branch of the bank I am talking about moved to a larger location recently, and they haven’t quite reopened yet. I wonder if the lines will be the same?

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Marlene March 29, 2011 at 11:28 am

Ah, post offices always manage to bring out people’s most annoying traits. I thought everyone was more or less familiar with post office protocol that if you go up to the window after waiting in line and are given a form to fill out, that you don’t have to wait in line again. In fact, every time I’m at the post office, the clerks will tell people that. Once though, a particularly rude woman behind me in line didn’t like this unofficial rule and actually tried to push me up to the window saying, “Quick! He’s gonna cut in line!”

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Rattus March 29, 2011 at 11:32 am

@Michelle P: What I would say in that situation is “I’m sorry, but if I do it for you, I have to do it for everyone in line and I really need to get back to the office”.

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Erica March 29, 2011 at 11:48 am

BG was out of control as well. You call her a girl in the story, but I would have qualified her as a woman as I was first picturing a little girl with a birthday gift. Although Banshee was ridiculous in her behavior, no one can predict what has occured previously in her day to make her so aggressive. I have been behind BG before, they are completley clueless as to anyone else, I find it even more rude when they refuse to turn around and acknowledge that there is a crowd waiting behind them. I would not say she acted with class, rather she was in her old world. Running out to feed your meter is unexcusable, and I should have put her back to the end of the line. While the Banshee should have been removed from the store, the BG should also have been asked to step aside.

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Typo Tat March 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

Banshee’s behavior was extra rude, but Box Girl wasn’t a lot better.

BG arrived unprepared, but instead of taping her package as fast as she could, she took her sweet time and held everyone waiting. Add meter incident. Add cheque writing. I would be annoyed too! (if not as vocal).

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esie March 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm

@Michelle: “If it’s okay with everyone else in front of you, I don’t mind.”

Or, as I read somewhere not long ago, when someone’s being rude or obnoxious and obviously looking for a response from you, just say “Wow.”

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Giles March 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Cell phones must be the greatest invention for impatient people ever. I’m not impatient, but ever since being able to read novels on my iPhone waiting has gotten downright enjoyable. I sometimes read a book a week just waiting in lines. My husband, who is extremely impatient but thankfully not vocally, keeps games as well as books.

If you, for some strange reason, want a pushy line, go to a theme park. Disneyworld can honestly be the rudest place on earth sometimes. I could tell a million stories about our vacations and the things people say when they’ll never see those people again.

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Caper March 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

:…my condolences for being raised by wolves as she was insulting the noble bearing of a wolf.”
Best line ever. And yes, while BG was holding up the line I wouldn’t consider that nearly on the same level as Banshee. I mean, I think I’ve met children more patient than her. Sighing, moaning and groaning as well as whining won’t get you your way any faster. In fact, it just makes people think less of you.

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aje March 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Sounds familar. I’m afriad this is an increasingly normal thing, as many post offices are closing and people’s hours are being cut back in our current US economy. Think of the poor girl who is trying to maintain the counter while people march by her entire shift and think nothing of waisting the time of those behind them (aka, the girl with the box who, let’s face it, was rather rude for not planning ahead about the meter, about taping up the box, etc.)

Yay OP for your manners. I’m sure you were a delight to that poor counter person who had to deal with BG, OG and Banshee. :)

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DGS March 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I confess, I’m not above fidgeting when I’m stuck in a long line, although most of the time, I quietly text or peruse my cell phone or (at the post office), obsessively re-check to make sure that I have packaged whatever I’m sending correctly, but I do think it’s the height of rudeness to loudly sigh and moan or to call people names. I feel especially sorry for the elderly when they take a bit longer in a line, and somebody in line (there is always that someone) who starts loudly sighing and groaning and complaining about an elderly lady or gentleman taking their time with their packages or their money order or whatever else. What gives someone the idea that whatever they have to do, or wherever they have to go, is more important or pressing? And are these the same people that then proceed to cut people off or curse them out in heavy traffic, take their cartful of 50 purchases through the express lane at the checkout, or snap their fingers loudly at a waiter to get attention? UGH…

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QueenofAllThings March 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I had a “sigher” behind me in line at the deli yesterday. It was just the two of us, and I ordered one thing, so …. not really sure what the big, heaving sighs were about.

Kudos to the OP. I may have been tempted to engage the crazy…

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bansidhe March 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Not ALL banshees/bansidhes are appallingly rude, I promise!

Great story, though – and refreshingly well-written. The restraint shown by everyone else in the Post Office apart from Banshee amazes me. Everyone there must have been sorely tempted to tell her to shuuuut uuuup.

I must say, however, that I think Box Girl was pretty inconsiderate. That doesn’t excuse Banshee’s shenanigans, but it’s just common sense to have things organized before you get to the front of the line at the Post Office (or anywhere else, for that matter).

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Brenda March 29, 2011 at 12:59 pm

If someone is swearing loudly, I have no qualms about telling them to lower their voices and/or stop the foul language. Good manners do not require that you keep your mouth shut at all times regarding boorish behavior.

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Sarah Jane March 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I understand the feeling. Particularly when I’m in line for twenty minutes at the lunch counter, and the person ahead of me (who’s been there even longer) hasn’t bothered to look at the menu until he reaches the cashier. I love the patience it teaches me :)

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SHOEGAL March 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm

@Michelle P – I think it is disgusting for that lady to used “Christmas Spirit” to get what she wanted. Why does everyone assume that their lives and their time are the most important?? We all have things going on in our lives – and our time is just as valuable. In addition to waiting in the line – we now have to hear someone’s mouth running making the time there even more unpleasant.

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LBC March 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm

For all we know, post office runs are not BG’s usual assignment, and she wasn’t familiar with the procedures. She topped off the meter while the postal worker was finishing her paperwork, so it didn’t actually take any extra time.

Not that it matters–it was still BG’s turn to be waited on, and anyone else in line was free to go to the main post office if they didn’t like how long things were taking.

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Shock and Awe March 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm

@ElizaJane, how on earth was BG acting bad? I don’t know all the postal procedures so often times when I get to the window I am told I have to do 1 more step, so they have me step aside, complete that step then take me as soon as I’m done. If it was BG’s turn (which it was) she had every right to take her time. Apparently when she paid the meter the postal worker was still processing her payment, so it’s not like she was waiting for something from BG. If she needed more information and couldn’t proceed until BG got back, then yes, that would be rude. But she was able to complete the transaction without it apparently.

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Heather March 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm

This past winter, I was in the car, dropping off our 100 Christmas cards into the drive through mail boxes. There are 2 sets of lanes, both with boxes. Well, I started putting my cards into the box, when another car pulled in behind me. I was putting in a handful of cards at a time, but this was apparently too pokey for them, so they beeped loudly at me (keep in mind, they were sitting comfortably in their car, and that the other lane/box was empty, and that these were red Christmasy envelopes). I was tempted to be passive aggressive and start putting one card at a time in the box, but my better angels prevailed, so I continued on a handful at a time and was made them wait all of 30 seconds longer. I turned up my Christmas music as I left, to try to put myself back in to the holiday spirit after the scrooge encounter.

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Princess Buttercup March 29, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Michelle P, when someone tries to get me to do their work for them I respond that I charge a minimum of $25.00/half hour and charge by the half hour. So if she wanted to pay me $25.00 besides the cost of the stamps then I will happily do it for her. That tends to get across the “my time is just as important as yours” message.

O.P. my mom always responded to extreme sighing like that with mock concern. “Are you alright, dear? You seem to be having trouble breathing. Do you need to step outside for a breath of fresh air? I’ll hold your place if you need to get some air really quick.” It tended to fluster them enough to shut up.

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The Elf March 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I hate lines. Hate, hate, hate lines. So BG would have definitely driven me nuts. She’s being rude in that she didn’t take the time in the line to properly prep her package and then got back into line while still unprepared. (At this point, I think her delays were deliberate to tick off Banshee.) However….. The key difference is that I would have LEFT long before that, without saying a word. I really can’t think of anything I have ever had to mail that badly that I would wait in a long, frustrating line, especially if there are other post options nearby.

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Peatun March 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Poetic justice would have been for the Postal worker to let her get up to the counter to tell her “I can’t serve someone with no manners”

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Molly March 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm

@ Michelle P. “I’m sorry, I cannot accommodate that request at this time.”

I’ve been in that line myself. I had a package all boxed and ready to go, just needed a price and a place to swipe my card. But the two people in front of me wanted money orders, then needed the pricing explained, then decided they needed stamps after paying for the money orders…it seemed to go on and on. I don’t think I sighed, but I know I shifted restlessly and exchanged glances with the person behind me. Banshee was beyond rude and it would have been nice for someone to put her in her place, but I can’t think of a polite way that wouldn’t have escalated the situation. Kudos to the writer for keeping her cool (and for writing a great story). I do wish the post office could set up automatic terminals for those of us who don’t need stamps or any other assistance.

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livvy March 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm

While Banshee was undeniably rude, I would be sorely tempted to huff, puff and sigh myself if BG had been in front of me. Yes, it’s to be expected that you’ll almost always have to wait if you want to see/talk to/get answers from a live person in any environment these days. However, I find it incredibly rude for people not to be as prepared as possible – especially given they’ve had all that wait time to get their affairs in order. A person can fill out most of the check / check register in advance, for example.
Going to the parking meter is waaay over the top. Consideration and manners are supposed to be a two-way street, not just saintly tolerance of the inconsiderate.

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Allie March 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Michelle P, in answer to your question, I guess you could pull out the Admin’s tried and true “I’m sorry, but that won’t be possible”.

With regard to BG, it has been suggested that she acted wrongly, but I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It can be difficult to get all your “stuff” together when you’re trying to get errands done, and if her transaction took longer than it maybe should have or could have, what can you do? She waited in line just like everyone else and was entitled to conclude her business.

I think that ignoring the Banshee in this situation was probably for the best. Confronting her probably wouldn’t have accomplished anything. Whenever I witness something like this, I always fantasize afterwards about all the polite zingers that I could have said that would have made her realize how she was behaving and shut her up, but I can never think of these at the time. If there’s any justice in the universe, and I believe there is, she’ll get her comeuppance one day.

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Chelsey March 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Oh, Admin was right. She DOES tell the story well!

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Maitri March 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm

@Michelle P: One says, “No.”

As for the Banshee: people act like that because no one calls them out on it, period. I know it’s rude to point out others’ rudeness, however I think that when someone is being a real pain in the patootie, especially to service workers, a polite but firm “Please be quiet, your rudeness is getting you nowhere” would be preferable, to me anyway, to having to listen to more of the same.

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Shelby March 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I usually try extra hard to be polite when I’m at any kind of store that has huge lines. Whether it’s from a big crowd or not enough workers, I try really hard not to absent-mindedly tap my foot or sigh out of boredom, in case it could be misconstrued! I know how it feels to be that worker, and be going as fast as you can.
Recently, however, I was at a tournament where every participant had to get their equipment checked. This amounted to hundred and hundreds of people (it was college teams from 10-15 schools), and we were all told to check in at the exact same time. There were only two people working on equipment, and my team ended up waiting for 2.5 hours to get our stuff checked. When the worker was helping the person in front of me, I noticed that they were being really rude. I was initially put off, but then I realized that for the past 3 hours they had been doing hard work, not just waiting in line. So I was especially pleasant to him, making sure that all of my equipment was prepared to be checked quickly and efficiently. All I got was rudeness in return, which was really disappointing.
So I guess the moral is, if you are that worker, please try to appreciate the people who aren’t like the Banshee, and are trying to make your day as easy as possible!

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LovleAnjel March 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm

@Michelle P.

“I’m sorry, I can’t.” No explanation needed.

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Stephenie March 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Wow… this is the perfect set-up for the response “I’m sorry but I cannot accomodate your request”. :-D

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Bint March 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I agree with ElizaJane. Banshee was awful but BG doesn’t come out well either. Buying stamps and paying by cheque = fine. Coming totally unprepared to a busy post office and running out halfway through to top up your parking meter?

Two rude people in the post office that day!

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Nellop March 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm

@Michelle P
I think that a ‘That wont be possible,’ is enough in that situation.
No apologies, no explanations. You don’t need to do anything for them, and you don’t need to explain yourself.
If they kick up a fuss, just repeat yourself. If they ask why, just say ‘because’, and turn away.
Entitled people do not need any encouragement to continue in their behaviour.

As for today’s submission – I am horrified that someone thinks that they have the right to talk like that in public. What if there had been young children around, listening to her filth? And even if there weren’t – I wouldn’t want to listen to someone spewing things like that in my earshot. I would have made a complaint to the cashier if it was me, and I certainly wouldn’t have been happy that she’d been allowed to stay. However, I can understand that if there was just the one poor cashier, it would have been very difficult to enforce that.

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M March 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I feel for LW and don’t think BG did anything wrong. Customs forms are weird. Of course, I also know of a post office where the workers will help you pack your boxes to ship internationally so you can use their scale and don’t have to guess how much what you are sending weighs. They provide great service. Seriously, how much does a t-shirt weigh?

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karmabottle March 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Really, the behavior of Box Girl was pretty atrocious. She’d have made me want to toss her out a window. Unlike Banshee, I’d never have vented aloud, but my face would have had a look of….well….disgust. Box Girl is the type of customer that I’d consider self-centered and oblivious to the point of rudeness. Common sense dictates that you prep the box before you get in line.

As far as the Banshee goes, I’d actually have silently agreed with her sentiments about Box Girl, but I’d not show that I did. I can’t support that level of insane vent. That too is incredibly wrong.

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AS March 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm

For those of you saying that BG was rude – here are two things I noticed:
1) Where I come from, the postal service wants to see what you are posting if the box is pretty big to make sure it is not going to endanger them. Maybe BG thought she’ll have to show the items to the postal agency before posting. Taping it multiple times is a bit over the top, but I suppose she did it while the worker was getting the transaction through. It is also possible that she did not have any tape, and anyways, she had stepped off the line while taping the box (assuming she did the extra taping when the transaction was going on, and not holding off the line anymore).
2) I have sometimes used corporate account, and it takes a while to go through. I don’t know about all types, but ours is a tax exempt account, and it sometimes takes a while to go through.
Running out to pay extra for her car was a bit too much, but maybe she didn’t estimate the time it would take. Again, I am assuming she did not hold up the line when she was gone, and the worker was attending OG and others in the mean time. Otherwise, I can see how annoying it can get.
BG was clumsy and confused. But I don’t think she was necessarily rude. She dealt Banshee’s phone call with grace.

Banshee was pretty rude. Maybe she is extremely self-centered; or maybe she was having a bad day and quite irritable and unfortunately, she did not have any place to vent. I don’t condone her behavior, but I am just trying to give her the advantage of the doubt. I feel bad for OP who was trapped there until he/she got her work done.

As a side note, I liked the smooth flow of this submission. Good job, OP.

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Sophie March 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm

@ Nellop,

Unfortunately, as a retail worker, I barely have the authority to kick people out of my store if they are being rude and acting like that. I would have to reserve kicking people out for cases where the customer started getting violent or there was shoplifting involved. Customers who are already frustrated/angry about something can get quite irate when you confront them about their behavior, which can be quite scary if you’re a lone person trying to keep a shop functioning as efficiently as possible.
Just wanted to provide some insight into why the worker didn’t kick Banshee out. If we got to kick every customer out that was rude like that, we wouldn’t have that many customers left! (But the ones that would be left would be lovely :) )

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sidi-ji March 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I have been that “BG”. Now I can tape up a package under even adverse conditions (such as no table), but put me in front of a post office window and I morph into a being with no particular further demands on my time. I want the specialty stamps, etc. Now I do casually collect stamps, but after reading these posts I plan to do so by mail. :)

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Lauren March 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I have been in a similar situation myself, with a Man-shee rather than a Banshee. I was in the position of Box Girl. I was attempting to buy tickets at a train station – there was no machine (which I would have preferred to use as I am not good with people), and this was my first time on a train. To add to my nervousness a very loud shrill noise had just gone off above my head. I was last in the queue in what appeared to be a very quiet station. Obviously the queue formed whilst I was busy.
I made some inquiries about train times and prices – there was no price board and you had to have bought a ticket to see the time board. Three questions in total. The Man-shee then started yelling at me to hurry up (please note that only had to pay at this point). This additional stress distracted me from paying. In stressful situations I tend to mentally shut down significantly. After the second go at me, I snapped at him “You’re not helping!” (very bad of me, I know) and he yells at me “you’re not allowed to shout in the ticket office!”

In short, the stress and ensuing babbling, stuttering and phasing out of a normal, observant mindset extended my fairly short transaction (including my questions) by a good couple of minutes. I do think that whilst Box Girl should have been better prepared, it is likely that Banshee could have interrupted her mental flow and thus slowed the transaction even further.

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OP March 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Hello! I’m the OP for this story. I wanted to leave a comment thanking you and the Admin for your kind words regarding the writing, and I’m glad that I entertained some of you!

Regarding BG and her meter: As some have stated, the counter worker was busily doing things in regard to her package, thus her running out to top up her meter didn’t cause any delay as we all had to wait there anyway. And, while her not being ready was irritating, to be fair to her there was no way for her to tape up the box because she had just packed said box when she plucked it from the available mailing supplies. All of the tape is behind the counter, so she had to wait her turn and ask for it when she got to the counter. She followed the unwritten rule that you step to the side, prep your things, and then come back to the window without waiting in line again. To her credit, she did have the check filled out except for the amount, so that part didn’t take long. I felt awful for her, as it wasn’t her fault that it was taking so long. Were the rest of us annoyed? Absolutely, but the rest of us had the good sense and manners to keep the grumbling in our heads and stick to exasperated looks with other patrons in line.

As for engaging Banshee, it was tempting, but I had no desire to start something in the post office. I am sure any comment I made would be met with something equally as nasty. There was nothing I needed to do because she had made herself look like a Grade A jerk all on her own. If anything, I know her behavior inspired me and likely the others to be a bit kinder to the poor postal worker at the counter who was just doing her job.

Again, thank you! :)

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Snowy March 29, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I know it’s rude, but I like to think I would’ve said something to Banshee. Maybe not gone off on her, but I would love to think I’d turn to her and say, “I’m sorry, you’re supposed to use your *inside* voice when you say nasty things about people. Remember what we learned, ‘If it makes you see red, say it in your head!'”

I’d probably either say nothing, or clearly say, “I dunno, it doesn’t bother me, they’re making good time for tthis much work!” The whole silver lining thing.

Maybe I could whistle a jaunty tune to boot.

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Peep March 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I have to admit, people who don’t have their packages at least sealed before they get to the post office are a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I wouldn’t have been very sympathetic to BG either, though I certainly wouldn’t have said anything.

I had my own very similar situation at the post office the week before Christmas just this past Christmas. I arrived about a week before the last minute crunch hit to find an unsurprisingly crowded post office. What did surprise me was the number of people who were frantically stuffing things inside of boxes all over the entire office. It was actually hard to move because there were at least 10 people cramming bags of junk into boxes of every size and shape using every horizontal surface in the lobby. I waded through the chaos and got into the very long line. I wait for a good half hour, and finally get to the clerk, who I’ll call Jane.

I had one package to send out, and some stamps to buy. I had everything ready before I got the post office, so even with the addition of insurance and delivery confirmation, it was a pretty smooth and short transaction. I was focused on Jane, so I didn’t notice the “lady” and her child next to me at first. She was standing in front of one of the empty registers using the counter to cram stuff into a box that just couldn’t handle the contents. Half way through my very short transaction she finished what she was doing and interrupted Jane who was serving me. The Jane told her to go to another clerk(we’ll call him Bob) who had just opened up, but she hadn’t seen another customer who was already being served by Bob, so Jane mistakenly sent the woman to a clerk who couldn’t help her that very minute.

This became a very serious problem for the “lady”, and she starts to tell Jane that she is rude for sending her there, and she’s been waiting forever, and how awful everything at the post office is, and how inappropriate Jane’s behavior is…it just goes on and on.

The thing is, I’m still being helped by Jane who is telling this woman to calm down and wait for another clerk. The “lady” is slowly edging me off the register before I’m finished, and she’s having a full blown argument with Jane who is doing her best to finish helping me. I have to hand it to Jane, she was not taking any of that “lady’s” garbage. It was one of the craziest conversations I’ve ever been involved with. Jane would alternate between being perfectly lovely to me, to being professionally curt to this other woman. It was a very surreal conversation as I was, and had been, quite cheerful and nice to Jane throughout the entire conversation, and Jane was reciprocating in kind. The “lady” on the other hand was accusing Jane of everything under the sun and saying she should be fired, and Jane was telling that “maybe she should go to another clerk” forcefully, but very professionally. I was in the middle of a full blown argument on one side, with completely civil interactions cut all throughout it.

The other woman was slowly pushing her way onto the register, holding her daughter in one hand, and dragging a badly packed box that would never make it through the postal system in the other. She was holding her daughter in the arm closest to me, so she was basically using her own child to nudge me off the register. Eventually I managed to mostly finish, though I actually got edged off the register by about 2-3 feet before Jane could give me the receipt to sign. I signed it and handed it to Jane, and wasn’t even able to squeak out a “thank you” because the “lady” had really launched into her full rant and Jane was fully occupied with the mass of crazy that was now directly in front of her.

All in all my time at Jane’s window was less than 3 minutes, and more than half of that involved this crazy “lady” screaming at Jane.

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MeganAmy March 29, 2011 at 10:11 pm

I think there wasn’t much people could do other than ignore Banshee, because I think anything anyone said to her would have just set her off on a louder, more profane tirade. Although, Princess Buttercup’s mom might have been successful with her mock concern. I love that suggestion!

I don’t blame BG for her actions except for the parking meter run. Even though it didn’t slow anyone down, it might have made her look inconsiderate.

I rarely ship things so I don’t have bubble wrap or packing peanuts at home and I rarely have appropriately sized boxes. So I have to buy those from the postal store the day that I ship anything. I don’t want to grab boxes and bubble wrap, stand in line, pay for them, then, go to the back of the store, wrap my item, package it, tape the box and then get in line a second time to pay to ship it. I can see why most people, like BG, would only want to stand in line one time.

As for Michelle P’s story, I know that I would not have acquiesced to buy stamps for the rude lady at the back of the line. If I had been in a timid mood that day, I would have just ignored her completely or said “Sorry” firmly. But if I were in a more lighthearted mood, I might loudly say to everyone else in line behind me “Who else is here just to buy stamps?” just to see if there were several others. And then I would have said to her “See, these folks are waiting in line for that too. You’ll be ok waiting as well.”

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Rebecca March 30, 2011 at 12:14 am

I used to work in one of those small postal outlets at the back of a drug store. That was where I experienced the rudest customers ever. Ruder than retail store customers. Ruder than restaurant customers. Ruder than any customers I’ve had anywhere else. Something about post offices bring out the Banshees. I had the Banshee come through quite frequently.

The worst was when I had the gall to try and leave at the end of my shift. The store closed at 9 PM but the postal outlet inside closed at 5. They’d come rushing in just after 5 hoping to catch me; they’d see me finishing up with the last customers, and start ranting, yelling, screaming and swearing if I tried to leave.

The most memorable was one that swore at me when I asked for ID to pick up a registered letter. She stormed off to her car to get her ID, came back and threw the cards at me, and then when I asked her to sign for the parcel she threw an even worse fit, and signed in the wrong place. I asked her to please sign on the line that indicated the package was received. She swore and huffed and puffed. I was about 18 years old and too nice, but now I wish I’d just said, “Ma’am if you don’t wish to sign for it, I can send it back.”

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Sarah March 30, 2011 at 3:03 am

Box Girl stepped aside to fill in the forms and tape up the box, so she wasn’t holding up the line then, and it seems that she went outside to top up the meter while the worker was filling out paperwork, so that wouldn’t have held up the line either. Yes, it’s annoying, and it is considerate to get these things organised beforehand to save everyone the trouble, but for all we know it could have been her first day on the job – maybe she had no idea what to do, perhaps she had never mailed anything other than a standard letter or card before.

And who among us has never held up a line for even one second when we went to the wrong counter by mistake or had to search through everything in our wallet for a membership card? I know I have, and I know I will do it again some time, and I hope nobody will think me “self-centred and oblivious” or shout rude comments in front of the other customers – in my experience, not knowing what I am meant to do is embarassing already, surely this is punishment enough for the small and temporary inconvenience to others.

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