Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Scanning Tsunami - Drowning in Barcode Madness on the Postal Reef

By Mel Carriere

It's gotten to the point now where these inefficient, laughably outdated, ridiculously clunky scanners have overwhelmed all other aspects of postal existence.  Our office is patiently counting the days until the new scanners arrive, but in the meantime we just do our best to try to hold these ancient monstrosities together with spit, chewing gum, duct tape, and rubber bands.  Seems like scanner circuit farts are now a constant addition to the postal landscape, but the only thing these heavy silicon bricks really seem useful for is bopping supervisors in the head when they come around with the missed scans report in the morning, and increasingly in the evening as well.  You can't sneak out the door any more without being blindsided by a report of some scanner malfunction that is directly related to the completely amateurish scanning system and has nothing to do with the letter carrier's ability to make the scans.

Our office is extremely parcel heavy and I think because of that we get dinged for missing scans on packages that have invalid bar codes but somehow still sneak their way into the system.  Because of this are now under the heavy scrutiny of the scanning microscope and our supervisors are sometimes staying in the office until 9 at night to fix scans that show up as missing.  Naturally this would make anybody cranky, and this crankiness is starting to trickle its way down the ranks.

Friday afternoon my scanner went completely schizo on me.  A big white cloud formed across the face of the faulty device; the twisted second-rate Rube Goldberg contraption with its buffoonish accompanying disposable flip phone straight out of the Mexican drug cartel completely blanked out.   Once the smoke had cleared the screen then reverted to Window's desktop mode, complete with the Recycle bin in which I would have liked to deposit the scanner if it would have somehow been possible for the machine to consume itself.

Instead I called the supervisor.  She gave me instructions on how to reboot the scanner  (A + F + Escape) and this worked, except that once the scanner reboots the fickle, bitchy little beast then has to be reconnected with the docking cradle so it can reset its date and time.  When everything was said and done she still had to drive me out a new one.

Remember Dory from Finding Nemo?  One of the bad things about postal supervisors is that they typically have five second Dory memories, and in the thirty minutes between my scanner malfunction and my return to office she had naturally forgotten that my scanner malfunction ever occurred.  Right after I had clocked out to End Tour she yelled at me to come over to the desk.  It was almost as if she had waited for me to ET before she pounced.

"I'm off the clock," I answered as I walked up to where she sat behind the computer.

"Well, I've been yelling at you," Dory the supervisor replied.  "You missed some scans.  Maybe we can wait to talk about this tomorrow, IN THE OFFICE."  She then gave me some cute, ditsy little smile that announced quite clearly I'm just joking, of course, even though you know I'm really not.

All of the missed scans were of course related to the broken scanner, but as we walked through each one of them it was like this was the first time she had heard about the defective device.  All told it took 17 clicks to get through the six scans that never uploaded to the system, 17 unpaid clicks of the quickly falling sand in the hourglass of what is left of my life, and I had to spend it patiently retelling the sad story of my broken scanner to Dory every five seconds.

When you think about it, life on the reef must be blissful when you can forget every bad thing that has happened within the preceding five seconds, which would of course be approximately eight postal seconds.  When you think about it, this must be the key to survival on the Postal Reef, where angry but clumsy Postal Scanner sharks prowl about with their accompanying pilot fish flip phones swimming alongside.

Photo above is my own.

My latest on Hub Pages in honor of MLK

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