Tag Archives: frustration

A lovely day in the hands of the US Postal Service

I couldn’t figure out why my thighs were sore today, then I remembered. I spent most of yesterday afternoon on my knees on the loading dock of the downtown post office, reshuffling and repacking 737 bulk mail envelopes containing our biennial report. Oy!

What I thought would be a 10-15 minute chore turned into a more than three hour ordeal. I discovered, the world of bulk mail is no place for amateurs like me. I guess if you know what you’re are doing and understand your way around the labyrinth of arcane procedures, regulations and terminology, it might not be that difficult. However, for someone like myself, who handles this kind of job about once every two to three years, it was painful. The thing is, I went down to the post office several months ago and explained that I was not an expert and needed help getting it together. At that time, they were extremely helpful and gave me a set of instructions. When I actually showed up yesterday, with 737 envelopes, all neatly sorted by zip code,  there were a whole bunch of additional regulations and  procedures they had not shared with me. Our verbal exchanges included these:

“Well, your first problem is that you have used the wrong trays. Those are flats, not letters, so you need flat trays.”

Me: “Aren’t those flat trays? They are pretty flat.”

“No, these taller boxes are the flat trays. You’ll have to change everything to these other trays.”

“You know, you need to have all these wrapped in rubber bands in bundles of ten.” (It would have been nice to tell me that when I came down here the first time.)

“Did I tell you bundles of ten? No, ten is just the minimum. You can have as many as you can hold in one hand.”

“Where are your little colored labels?”

“Didn’t you hear me when I told you those needed to be placed in sacks?”

“Where is your PAPERWORK?”

“You don’t have enough money in your account.”

Me: “I have a check here in my pocket.”

“Oh no. You need to have already paid up front before we ever started this. I should have never even let you unload. Your (already sorted, wrapped, bagged, weighed, etc.) shipment shouldn’t even be out there. Oh my!”

By the end of the agony, I was beginning to understand the concept of “going postal.”

Avoiding road rage

I think I’m beginning to understand road rage. That’s not good. I actually yelled at someone yesterday and they heard me. That was just the first encounter on my drive home. It’s time to back down.

Most of the island on which I work is occupied with a 4,000-home gated golf community. Golf carts are a very common means of non-golfing transportation. The residents drive them on the roads and cart paths alongside the public roads, even outside of the gates. It has been a pet peeve of mine for some time that the golf cart “drivers” don’t seem to believe that traffic laws apply to them. There I one traffic light I pass through at least twice a day where two four-lane roads intersect. Nearly every time I pass through this intersection, especially in the afternoon, I see golf carts zipping across the intersection without regard to the traffic signal.

A few days ago, I stopped for a red light at the intersection and signaled to make a right turn on red. A golf cart pulled up on the golf cart beside me. As I began to move into my turn, the golf cart driver “floored it” and drove across the street against the red light. (I had the right to make a right hand turn. He did not have the right to continue straight.) I slammed on the brakes and laid on the horn. He turned around and gave me a look as if he were Robert DeNiro saying “Ya talkin’ to me?”

Yesterday, a woman on a golf cart zipped across the intersection in front of me against the light. I rolled down my window and called “Hey, that was a red light.” She looked at me as if I were an alien from outer space and gave me a one-arm shoulder shrug, as if to say “And your point is?”

My second encounter of the afternoon drive involved another long-standing annoyance that occurs when a two-lane road narrows to one lane for construction, an accident, or whatever. Traffic lines up in the open lane. However, there are always some people who think they are too special to wait in line and drive past the line of waiting cars, and then try to bully themselves into the head of the line. Usually, I am one of the most courteous drivers you will ever meet. In most situations, I will gladly give way and allow someone to pull in front of me – but not in this case. I will attach my car to the rear bumper of the car ahead to keep one of those jerks from cutting in. They can just turn around and go back to the end of the line as far as I am concerned. Unfortunately, the guy behind me usually isn’t as strong, so they let them in.

No solidarity. Too bad. Sigh.

Why bother?

Friday — I spent most of the day raking leaves in the front yard.

Today — The bags are still awaiting pick up.

Overnight — A little wind and a little rain. The yard looks the same as it did Friday morning.And there is more to come.Oh well.

Adventures in car rentals

I had an over-night trip to Atlanta earlier this week. All of our institution cars were tied up, so I rented a car. It’s cheaper and better for all concerned than driving my own car and getting paid mileage.

Renting a car can be an adventure. The instrumentation and other gadgets on most cars work pretty much the same way, but there are exceptions.

The first time I got into a rental with a key-less ignition, I had no idea what to do. I had to get the rental attendant to show me how to start the darn thing.

Sometimes figuring out how the CD player works can be a challenge.

Hybrids can be different if you are not familiar with them.

This time, I ended up with a Chevrolet HHR. When I stopped to get gas on the way out of town, I encountered a familiar problem.

“How do I get to the gas cap?”

I looked at the gas cap cover and saw no “finger flap” to open it, so I started searching around the driver’s seat for a release switch. No such luck. It was still very pre-dawn, so I had trouble seeing anything in the dark. After popping the hood and the tailgate in my effort to find a switch, I was starting to get frustrated.

How about the owner’s manual?

No such luck. The rental companies remove them.

Just before pulling out my cell phone and calling the 24-hour emergency number, I took a chance and just pressed on the gas cap cover. Viola! It popped open.

I felt kind-of stupid for not thinking of that first. However, this is the first car I have driven that didn’t either have the little finger flap or a release switch.

Don’t you think it would be a good idea for the rental company to leave the owner’s manual in the car? Who would want to steal an owner’s manual for a car they don’t own?

Stupid question – I’m sure someone would.

This should be interesting…

As anyone who knows me, especially Mrs. Poolman, can attest, I am not the most mechanically minded individual in the world. For the most part, the world of electricity, plumbing and anything to do with automobiles is something to be left to someone who actually knows what they are doing. Not that I don’t try. Stories of my blunders are legendary in our family. I am not totally to blame for this, however. Mrs. Poolman is the eternal optimist, encouraging me each step of the way.

“Oh, come on, we don’t need to call a repairman/electrician/plumber/mechanic for that. You OUGHT to be able to do it yourself (if you were any kind of competent adult male with even a drop of testosterone in your body.)”

Hence comes one of our laws of relationships: “Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.”

This week I faced the problem of a broken lawn mower. I needed to go in search of someone to fix it without costing more than the price of a brand new one.

A note here – I bought my first lawn mower in 1984, an entry-level, gas powered push mower, and ran it until it finally died in 2004. The running joke was that I wanted to make sure I got my money out of it — $125 in 1984. In 2004, I bought pretty much the same thing again, just a different brand.

After calling around, I found someone who would work on my model, but he told me over the phone that I would be better off buying a part and fixing it myself. (Oh no!) The problem is it apparently needs a new starter assembly – the thing that turns around on top of the motor when you pull the starter cord. Mine turns but doesn’t engage and start the engine. He told me:

“If you want, I’ll be happy to work on it for you, but I’m telling you, I’m going to probably have to charge you more than you have in it.”

At least he was honest about it. Since I had the mower in the back of the car anyway, I told him I would bring it by his shop so he could see exactly  the problem and sell me the right part.

The Patient

The Patient

Do you think it as strange as I do that you can purchase a brand new product like a lawn mower for less than it takes to make a fairly minor repair? I hate the idea of trashing an entire lawn mower just because of one non-functioning part.

I took my lunch hour to drive to his shop, which turned out to be a combination used bookstore and lawn mower sales and repair shop. What is that all about? In any case, my new friend, Dale, turned out to be a gem of a human being. He didn’t have the part, but he directed me to where I could buy it elsewhere, and even wrote down the part number for me. He also described the way to install it. He couldn’t have been more helpful, and I didn’t spend a dime with him. Props to Dale at Acme Mower Repair and Used Book Store! We’ll be back. Mrs. Poolman has been depressed ever since the cheap used bookstore across town closed down a few months ago. She will be very excited.

I spent the next hour driving all over the west side of town, to find the S*ars warehouse and repair/parts center. I eventually found it and walked out $46 lighter and in possession of the starter-thingy replacement.

Come Saturday morning, I’ll take screwdriver in hand and attempt to perform surgery on the mower. Well the worst that can happen is I’ll be out $46 and need to buy a new mower. It should be interesting. Check back and see how it goes.