My local post office branch in Seattle was out of the stamps I needed today. Really.
Since I became New To Seattle last year, this is not the first time I have experienced this. And before I became New To Seattle, I never ran into a post office branch missing a full inventory of its most important retail product. Ever.
It’s clearly some kind of a management issue, although I am not in a position to say whether the fault is mainly local or national. After all, thanks to Internet bill-paying, the Postal Service lost $15.9 billion in its latest fiscal year, and only some of that (I assume) stemmed from the Seattle operation.
But what is absolutely true is that this morning–amid the peak of the holiday mailing period–I went into the somewhat run-down branch at 3211 W. McGraw St., in the Magnolia neighborhood where I live. I wanted to buy several dozen of the $1.05 stamps required for one-ounce letters going abroad. Sorry, the clerk said, we’re out of them. Don’t know when a new supply will arrive.
So much for Seattle’s claim to be an international city.
Now, I agree that $1.05 stamps aren’t as important for a Post Office branch to have as, say, 100-stamp rolls of the 45-cent-each “Forever Stamps.” But over the past year this branch has has been out at times of Forever Stamp rolls, too. When that happened in my presence, the clerk on duty just shrugged his shoulders and offered stamp sheets, which won’t go into my stamp dispenser at home and are a pain for my aging fingers to separate.
Fortunately, today, after rousting about, the clerk was able to locate sheets of $1 stamps and 5-cent stamps. So I was able to accomplish my mission, although it took me twice as long to tear those sheets and affix the proper postage on each of my holiday missives.
I’ll leave it to you to ponder whether there is any cause-and-effect relationship between big Postal Service financial losses and weak inventory. For me, the relationship is clear, except I don’t know which is the cause and which is the effect.