I shipped out my first order on Friday afternoon. After packaging the order, I paused when it came to filling out the return address on the label. Did I really want to release my physical address? I’m a very private person and didn’t like the thought that putting my address out there might one day result in an unexpected drop by visit from potential customers who wanted to look at my candles in person.
One of the drawbacks to being autistic is that in order to make sense of the world, my life tends to be very structured. At home and at work I follow strict routines. This is part of the reason that I don’t care for unexpected drop by visitors. Not knowing when people might drop by is upsetting because this it’s impossible to plan for this. The easiest solution for me is to not accept drop by visitors. Unless I’m expecting a service technician or a delivery, I won’t answer the door if someone were to come by.
Even if I were to allow unexpected customers to look at my candles, I’m not zoned to sell from my home to customers who are physically present. I also don’t have the ability to accept payment in person since I don’t keep change for cash purchases and cannot scan credit cards.
To sidestep the problem with sharing my physical address, I decided to get a post office box so that I list a PO box as my return address instead of having to specify a physical location. I ordered my PO box on-line and got one for $10.00 a month. Since I paid for a full year in advance, the system gave me an extra month for free. After printing out the application form, I went to the post office.
There was only one window open at the Laughlin post office. Three people were ahead of me in line. One woman was also standing off to the side at a closed window. I wasn’t initially sure if she was with the customer who was standing at the open window or if she had been asked to wait.
As the man at the counter finished his business, the postal clerk waved at the person behind him. “NEXT!” she called.
The woman who had been standing at the closed window tried to speak. “Excuse me,” she said. “But I -“
“I SAID ‘NEXT’!” snapped the postal worker who waved the line forward. She completely ignored the woman who had been trying to get her attention.
The old woman who stepped up to the open window seemed completely oblivious to the woman who was next to her. “I’d like a book of Christmas stamps,” she said.
The postal clerk placed a book on the counter.
“What’s that?” asked the customer.
“This is Our Lady of Guápulo.”
The old woman shook her head. “I don’t like it. I’m sorry but I just don’t like it. Don’t you have something that’s more festive and less Catholic?”
The clerk produced a book of stamps showing Santa in a sleigh. “What about this?”
“Why didn’t you show this to me to begin with?” complained the customer. “I’ll take this.”
“Next!” called the postal clerk after the customer paid for the stamps.
When it was her turn to step up to the window, the woman ahead of me gestured at the person who had been waiting. “Shouldn’t she go first?”
“I SAID ‘NEXT’!
“But she’s been waiting.”
“I can help you over here,” called another postal worker. The woman in line tried to give her place in line to the other person.
“He called FOR YOU! He opened the window FOR YOU! NOW MOVE THE LINE FORWARD!” growled the first postal clerk who continued to ignore the woman at the neighboring window.
The lady ahead of me shrugged helplessly at the stranger and moved to the newly opened window.
“NEXT!” called the woman to me.
“Shouldn’t she go first?” I nodded at the woman who had been waiting. “She was here before I was.”
“MOVE THE LINE FORWARD!” snapped the postal clerk. By this time there were two more people in line behind me.
“LET’S GO!” growled the clerk. “MOVE THE LINE FORWARD OR GET OUT OF LINE!”
I gave an apologetic look at the woman who had been waiting but stepped forward to take my place at the window. After submitting my PO box application, the clerk left to get the keys to my box. I took this opportunity to lean towards the woman who had been waiting.
“I’m so sorry you’re having this experience. You should file an online complaint.”
“I just wanted to see if there’s any mail in my PO box. There hasn’t been any mail in DAYS. The postal clerk told me to wait and I’ve waited. My husband and I have had a PO box for twenty years and I’ve never been treated this way. I’ve been waiting here for over 30 minutes while other customers come and go.”
The clerk glared at me when she returned. She had a huge stack of magazines and envelopes piled in her arms. “You have a backlog,” she growled at the stranger.
“We didn’t get a postal notice that we had any mail to pick up. My husband was here yesterday and the mailbox was empty.”
The postal clerk dumped the mail on the counter at the closed window. “Thank you for your patience.” She then stepped to the open window and dropped two keys in front of me. “As for you, we have to change the locks in your PO box. I will give you the keys but you can’t use them until the lock has been switched out.”
“And when will the lock be switched out?”
“The lock will be changed when the lock is changed.”
“How long does this usually take?”
“I DON’T KNOW. IF I KNEW, I WOULD TELL YOU BUT I DON’T KNOW!”
I am now worried that the clerk will take her petty revenge for my offer of sympathy (and suggesting that she file a written complaint) by “misplacing” the lock so that there’s an unfortunate delay in activating my PO box.
I don’t know why some bureaucrats think it’s okay to abuse their positions. I don’t understand why the clerk thought it would be acceptable to serve at least 4 customers before tending to the needs of the woman with the PO box.
Believe it or not, there have been studies done about the attitude of bureaucrats towards the people they’re supposed to serve. One of the more recent sociological studies was published by Keulemans and Van de Walle (Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2018) who evaluated how tax officials treated citizens. The study concluded that how bureaucrats treat people depends in part upon how smart they are and whether or not they’ve had positive or negative interactions with the people they’ve served over the course of their careers. It should come as no surprise that bureaucrats who treat people badly have likely not had good experiences and do not respect the people they’re supposed to be serving.
Since I have now sold two candles via Shop Nevada, I have stocked my store with all of the new candles that I’ve produced over the past few weeks. This includes Genoa cherry cake, orange, apple, pineapple upside down cake, sponge cake rolls, Belgian waffles, and stacked fruit candles.
Having sold out the two Philadelphia style cinnamon roll candles I had in stock, I am now making more to replace the ones that were sold.
If and when I decide to open an Etsy store, I can always draw down on the existing inventory at Shop Nevada in preparation for stocking a new shop.