Monday, May 15, 2017

How to be a Nebbish

All the service counters at my local post office have signed above them reading, "Please wait to be called at to the counter". A request with which I try to comply, but people behind me in the queue are invariably prodding me forward as soon as one becomes free.

Recently, on being so prodded (and after having waited what seemed like an unreasonable time anyway), I went up to the counter. The young woman walked away and counted money for five minutes, then came back, looked up at me in surprise, asked if was waiting, and told me the counter wasn't open.

"It looks open", I said. She didn't reply, just walked away to do some more behind the scenes stuff.

I stood there for a while, defiantly, but eventually I gave up and went to another counter.

Today I was in the post office. The same woman was at the same counter, which became free.

"I think that one's free", the guy behind me said.

"I don't think so", I said.

"It looks it."

"Well," I said, waving him forward, "you're welcome to give it a go."

"Thanks", he said, walking up the counter. I rather looked forward to him getting the same treatment-- but of course, he was served right away.

Sometimes I feel like I am in a Woody Allen movie.


  1. It's very similar here in Perth; I've noticed for a while now that a lot of the staff (in different post offices) seem to almost want to hold the queue up. I can't help wondering whether they're keeping themselves in a job, as Australia Post is constantly reviewing the amount of behind -the-counter people required at each office. Longer queues look better.

    1. My experience of libraries is that people aren't so far-sighted. Indeed, my experience of libraries is that library staff have a bizarre desire to make themselves redundant when it comes to actual interactions with the public, even when it results in worse service!

  2. I'm not a member, but our local area's library seems to have very helpful staff. A dysfunctional but likeable friend who was living in a presbytery for a while(because he was so... Dysfunctional) NEVER seemed to return books. I used to take the initiative for him, and often pay the $1,I always felt the buzzer was going off louder every time I went through the door. One staff member, but she was never on duty when I was there, is a devout Catholic who has published a book on cultural devotion to The Blessed Virgin.
    Australia Post is government owned and yet they're always talking about surplus and deficit. They complain about losing money with letters, but they're actually making a lot on internet also-delivering goods that were once sold in retail shops. I doing see why delivering ordinary mail can't be seen as a government service.
    (Don't know the status of An Post?)

    1. I think An Post is a state company. I'm not a fan of privatization, either.