Here's the Scoop: March 25, 2009

Taking the tour
I think it’s fairly common to live somewhere and not fully appreciate the resources that are around us. For instance, I’ll bet there are tons of people who live in New York City who have never been to the top of the Empire State Building. Likewise, I’m sure that many residents of the Catskills haven’t been to the top of Slide Mountain, the region’s highest peak.
There are many other examples of overlooked places, but I crossed one off my list when I recently had the opportunity to tour nearly every post office within a 50-mile radius.
Sure, you’re probably thinking that a post office tour is not high on your list of “places to see before I die.” You’re not alone. Still, such a post office tour is more interesting than you might think.
At the risk of offending anyone (my New Year’s resolution), I won’t name specific post offices that I feel had outstanding features. Or not.
Anyone who has ever been to one small PO around here would probably vote this facility: No. 1 for Comfort. Antiques help decorate this PO and, well, there’s a couch in the lobby. Every other postal facility comes under the heading of “We’re number two and we’ll try harder.”
At least in theory.

Customer non-service
Again, without naming names, I ran across one PO where I was attempting to make a too-large-for-the-slot delivery before the designated window service hour began. I knocked on the “inner sanctum” door. Then I rang the bell. I heard the chatter about “Who is that?” No sense in opening the door to find out, of course. But I would have had better luck getting behind the curtain to visit the Wizard of Oz. The Customer Service ranking at this PO quickly plummeted to the bottom of the rankings.
I was relieved to soon arrive at a more low-tech PO. Much more. In fact, this facility was about the size of a postage stamp. Literally. I was shocked at the square-inchage of this PO “lobby.” In fact, I kept looking around for a pay phone. I guess if it works, that’s fine.
In recent years, many new postal facilities have been constructed. Most look pretty much the same. “Warm” is not a word that would adequately describe most of these buildings.
I realize that modernization brings certain necessary concessions in terms of security and energy efficiency. Still, I prefer the old-fashioned postal facilities over the new ones. And, even though it doesn’t have a couch in the lobby, I’ve been doing business in my hometown Arkville PO for many years. It’s still my favorite. I feel like I own the place.