Sunday, January 30, 2005

Going Postal

Note: The following is the last entry (I promise) being recycled from the long defunct "TIX3" weblog. It was originally posted on Dec. 30, 1999. You'll be happy to know we have since moved, and our house has its own mailbox right on our curb, thank you very much. - Ed.

I hate our mailbox.

You might think this a strange thing to hate - I certainly would have thought so, too, but that was before I moved to Texas.

Ah, yes, back in those days, those good old days in Ohio, one's mailbox was hung right on their house, or at least on one's own property. But not in Texas. Here, in the brand new development we just moved to, we have community mailbox clusters. I don't know what they're officially called, actually, but that's what they are: clusters of mailboxes in one big unit, located on the street. Not on the street right in front of your house, on your own property, either; but just somewhere out in the neighborhood, along with dozens of other people's mailboxes.

The reasoning behind this setup isn't tough to grasp. This is the setup that's easiest for the mail-carrier. They don't have to tromp around the whole neighborhood, up and down sidewalks and across lawns, because the mailboxes are centrally located.

Ours is a quarter of a mile away from our house. A quarter mile! That is just wrong, all by itself, without regard to any of the other things I'm fixin' to complain about. We should not have to drive to our mailbox! But the mail-carriers drive anyway, and that's easier for them.

But as I just hinted, it gets worse. The shape of the boxes themselves is all wrong. They're about three inches high, 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep. Given the position of our particular box in the cluster (box number 6 in cluster 750), which is about waist high for me, the narrow height makes it awkward to get the mail out. And it's pretty deep, so I've got to reach all the way back to see if there's anything back there. It's not like regular mailboxes you can buy at the hardware store, where it's easy to reach in and see what's in there. But the mail-carriers aren't taker-outers, they're putter-inners, so that's easier for them.

Furthermore, it's locked. Hey, it's out there in the wild and woolly neighborhood somewhere, not on my porch, so that's probably a good thing. But now when I want my mail, I have to first unlock the little 3 inch by 12 inch door. And the lock has this annoying little cover over the hole, perhaps to keep moisture out and prolong the lock's life in this harsh environment, but serving me no purpose other than making the lock that much more annoying. But the mail-carriers simply unlock one lock in the back of the cluster and they have easy access to all the boxes, so that's easier for them.

Just in case you didn't quite catch the trend, every difference between our Texas mailbox and our Ohio mailbox makes mail delivery easier for the mail-carriers but harder for us. I'm sympathetic to the post office, I really am. They've got a job to do, and they want it as easy, efficient and cost-effective as it can be. But you know what? This sucks. We get mail six days a week, and six days a week this sucks. It doesn't have to.

They could make their jobs easier without introducing that much suckiness into my life. Cluster the mailboxes, but not in clusters of 60, in clusters of 6, and put them closer to the houses they belong to. Make the dimensions a little more taker-outer friendly. Get a lock that's easier, or skip the lock entirely (after all, isn't it a felony to steal mail?).

The whole sordid situation is just an example of a trend that I despise - making things easier for the administrator of a system at the expense of the users of that system. Company IT departments are another good example. "You'll need to run that program off the network. It's much slower that way and it's completely inaccessible when the network is down, but that way we won't have to install it and upgrade it on your machine!" Again, I feel for the poor IT guys, but give me a break here. They have to install once, and maybe upgrade every year or so. I have to run that program every day. I'm the user! I'm more important than you! The whole damn setup is for me!

But hey, I'm not kidding myself about trying to get anything changed. Especially regarding the mailbox - it is administered by the United States Postal Service, after all.

In other words, I'm mad as hell and I'm going to keep on taking it.


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