Sunday, December 10

Going postal on Guam

Mail delivery is a hot issue on Guam these days. The main post office in Barrigada decided to close one of the windows that served the PO box holders who need to pick up packages too big to fit in their boxes -- right before the holidays. (If the USPS is seriously wanting to save money and increase efficency out here they need to hook all employees up to caffeine drips. A mere 1% increase in alacrity would save billions of dollars.) This affects lots of people because home mail mail cluster boxdelivery seems to be the exception to the rule on most of the island. Thus lots and lots of people rely on PO boxes.

The USPS answer to the congestion in the post office (besides eliminating service at the time of the year when it is most needed) is to encourage the development of more regional or neighborhood cluster boxes. That's the big money-saving direction they're trying to move things. But that's got the citizenry up in arms, too. Guamians think they should get home delivery just like people in the States get. And they're whining about it on talk radio.

They think that letter carriers should have four-wheel-drive vehicles and try to find them on all the unpaved narrow jungle roads.

Even the paved roads don't have street signs 90% of the time. And only occasionally will someone bother to put an address number on a house. In that respect Guam is not a very friendly place.

Then, of course, there are the dogs that run loose everywhere. People on Guam don't seem to care about chaining their beasts. A couple of months ago a dog caught me by surprise as I walked a few feet off campus. He attacked and bite me on the leg.

Whenever Cheryl and I go for walks in the morning we carry a big umbrella to beat off the dogs. I had to take a swing at another one yesterday. You can imagine what they'd do to someone in a post office uniform!

Guam has got to be purgatory -- or even hell -- for letter carriers. I'm surprised they haven't all gone postal.

So, home delivery doesn't make much sense here. But people feel cheated if they're not getting what people in the States get (and perhaps a little more!). What they don't seem to understand, though, is that the US postal service is moving things toward cluster boxes everywhere -- not just on Guam. Almost all newer neighborhoods in the States receive mail at cluster boxes, too. Both of our last two homes (Texas, 1989-1995; California, 1995-2006) were served through cluster boxes. They work fine. It's a good compromise.

The US postal service on Guam isn't exactly running on the most finely tuned engine -- as evidenced by the recent service cutbacks. But it does run a lot smoother than most agencies here. We need to cut them some slack and embrace the cluster box option. It may even lower our collective blood pressure level.
Post a Comment