By Mel Carriere
Our Post Office sits at the edge of a large vacant lot that is actually a huge sinkhole in which water accumulates during one of our rare California downpours. Only the penny-pinching Postal Service would buy land next to a vacant lot that serves as a swimming pool for ducks during the sporadic occasions when there is water there, and when there is not becomes a hotel for stray cats that are artificially sustained by a well meaning cat lady that for years has hauled buckets full of cat food through an opening in the fence, from which she will feed the homeless tabbies who have become dependent on her kitty compassion.
During these dry times, which is almost always, whatever rodents are trying to eke out a perilous horror movie existence in a place saturated with bored felines on the cat-lady dole; attempt to escape the nightmare by creeping out of the sinkhole and moving into our Post Office right next door. These mice do not know, and do not care about defiling the sanctity of the US mail. They see our building as a convenient sanctuary against cat depredations, and nothing else.
There is clear evidence of rodent infestation in the building. Any food unwisely left out on the workroom floor overnight is found nibbled the next day. At times a whiff of the unpleasant odor of decaying rodent flesh can be detected percolating through the walls. The death of rats despoiling our building cannot be attributed to any pest control efforts on the part of the Postal Service, however. Do you really think they are going to take a rodent problem seriously when we have had broken toilets in the men's room for months now? No, the rodents pretty much have the run of the building, and I suppose we postal employees have learned how to coexist with them. I guess it is expected that every once in a while one is going to die a natural death.
Yesterday I smelled another rat in the building that was even nastier than the usual four legged furry carcass that keels over in the walls occasionally. I found this particular rat on the ledge of my letter case, in the form of a questionnaire that was labeled "The CIM Delivery Survey."
Unlike the Voice of the Employee surveys that are distributed to poll Postal Employee opinions about working conditions, job satisfaction, etc., our supervisor told us that this CIM survey had nothing to do with the job, but rather with how we perceive our mail delivery at home. It asks seven different questions which, if you have not received it, I will list for you here:
- Q1 - Just thinking about your overall experience with the mail or packages you recently RECEIVED, how satisfied are you with USPS performance (9 choices).
- Q2 - Mail or packages are delivered to the correct address (Accuracy)
- Q3 - Mail or packages are delivered in good condition (Effectively)
- Q4 - Letter carriers are friendly and courteous (Image)
- Q5 - Letter carriers perform their job well (Efficiently)
- Q6 - Tracking information for packages is accurate (Product Information)
- Q7 - In the future, what should the USPS do to improve your satisfaction with how we DELIVER your mail or packages?
Our supervisor seemed pretty desperate that we fill out these surveys. She gave us a stand up talk yesterday, and another one today on the subject. When she came around for commitments this morning she asked me if my survey was ready. I told her I was still thinking about it. She didn't seem happy about this answer when she walked away. I think someone upstairs has issued marching orders that getting these surveys filled out needs to be a priority.
The reason why I told her I was thinking about it was because I was beginning to detect the unmistakeable perfume of rat in the room, and the more I sniffed the more it stank. The smell was not coming from the walls, as it usually does, it was coming from the survey on top of the ledge.
The more I meditated upon the ostensibly well meaning intentions behind having employees rate their own mail delivery, the more I began to detect an insidious ulterior motive. It occurred to me that, in light of the recent reductions in first class mail standards and the near deafening public outcry this has caused, the Postal Service is trying to rise above this customer service nightmare image by having its own largely biased employees provide some positive appraisals that will up the score.
Being familiar with the grueling demands of the job and the inner workings of mail delivery, postal employees are probably less likely to complain about the condition their own packages arrive in or the bad attitude of their letter carrier. Burdened with a long checkered history of substandard technology, they are probably also less likely to grumble about missed scans.
Poking my finger into this festering rat corpse a little more, I also noticed that Q8 was mysteriously missing. The curiously absent Q8 should read: Mail or packages are delivered in a TIMELY MANNER.
Is it just me, or is timeliness in mail delivery kind of important? I guess not. Not anymore. The Postal Service seems to be in an ostrich bury your head in the hand state of denial when it comes to mail being delivered on time. It doesn't seem to matter anymore when mail gets there, as long as it gets there eventually. So let's close more processing plants and post offices, fire more clerks, and maybe if we don't put Q8 TIMELINESS on the survey the public won't think about it. Better yet - when members of Congress read these survey results they won't be reminded of that nagging, annoying Q8 because it won't be sitting there snarling and hissing at them through rotten rat teeth.
In conclusion, I can't bring myself to fill out this CIM survey. I probably would, but I just can't write and plug my nose at the same time.
You or someone you know looking to join the ranks of the perpetually disgruntled?
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More by Mel about rodent infestations on Hub Pages
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