Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Government Customer Service on the Other Side

So I recently was on the other side of government agency customer service. I don't think I was that much of a problem patron, but if I get mentioned on some post office guy's blog about mailing horror stories, I won't be too surprised.

As mentioned before, I've got a very dear friend (the much alluded "McGruff the Crime Dog") who's currently doing a year as a missionary in Swaziland. Being the nice guy that I am, I decided to send her a care package via the United States Postal Service. Of course, since it's me, I'm not content to do a simple, reasonable care package. No, Tony Kris has to do it massive style. Whenever I was finished loading up the box with all sorts of niceities, it weighed in at 10 lbs. 13.2 oz.

So I walk into the post office with my enormous parcel in hand and go up to the next available counter. Behind the desk, there is an incredibly grizzled old man, waiting to inform me of how much shipping this bad boy was going to cost.

Of special note was this guy's beard, which can be only described as a "goat beard." Now there's a huge difference between a goatee and a goat beard. Goatees are what young hipsters have whenever they get sick of rocking the soul patch. Goatees are "cool," "hip," and "somewhat popular." However, this guy, who must have been working for the USPS ever since Ben Franklin established it, was the owner of a goat beard. It was long, scraggly, and intermixed with gray. To be honest, it wouldn't have surprised me if he was actually a satyr. I half-expected him to whip out some pan pipes and start dancing a jig with his cloven-hoof feet.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic. So I put my package down on the scale, and await Mr. Tumnus' instructions (Bonus points if anyone gets the reference without googling or wiking it)

Mr. Tumnus: "So, where are we shipping today?"

Me: "This right here is headed off to Swaziland."

Mr. Tumnus: "Okay, Switzerland" (Begins typing)

Me: "Not Switzerland. Swaziland"

Mr. Tumnus: (Looking confused) "Swaziland? Never heard of it"

Me: (Not wanting to get into the whole "Swaziland is indeed a country" debate once again) "Trust me, just look it up." (Starting to spell out Swaziland)

Mr. Tumnus: "Ah, you're right! Swaziland! It's right here!" (Begins typing some more) "And it looks like it's in Africa..." (Stares at me dumb-foundedly) "Good lord boy! In my 35 years of working at this post office, I've never had anybody send anything that large, that far!"

Me: (In disbelief that he's worked at the post office for only 35 years and expecting him to still whip out the pan pipes) "How much is it going to cost?" (Wanting to be done with this, since everyone in line is starting to realize that it's going to take a while for all my postage to be taken care of)

Mr. Tumnus: (Still wanting to talk about how far Swaziland is from Big City) "Gadzooks!" (He actually said 'Gadzooks') "This is going to probably cost a fortune! Who are you sending this to? Your girlfriend?"

Me: "No."

Mr. Tumnus: (Trying to justify my desire to send a huge package overseas) "Then it's got to be your wife or fiancee!"

Me: (Though I'm not opposed to the idea) "Nope. Just a care package for a friend. Lots of American stuff she can't get there." (Like Pop-Tarts, for example.)

Mr. Tumnus: "Well, you've got to declare everything for customs."

Me: (I quickly do so, wanting to be as speedy as possible) "Here you go."

Mr. Tumnus: "Holy Cow! Now, do you want to send this overnight express, priority, or ground?"

Me: (Not wanting to spend a fortune) "Nothing in there is perishable, so ground's okay."

Mr. Tumnus: (Typing away) "Well, it looks like ground's off the table. You're going to have to do priority at the lowest, because...

I SWEAR I AM NOT MAKING THIS REASON UP! I cannot make that clear enough

Mr. Tumnus: " looks like the warlords have gotten pretty bad."

(Okay, one would think that if warlords were a problem, the least technologically advanced shipping method would be preferable. You'd think that planes and trucks would be taken over at a high rate. But no, it's the slowest transport that's off the table. I'm assuming that the extra money has to spent on bribes. Like I paid for my package to be sent via plane, but it's actually going on donkey back with the extra money used to pay off warlords from getting their hands on McGruff's Pop-Tarts.)

Me: (Scared of the price) "Priority is fine"

Mr. Tumnus: (Really REALLY loudly) "HOLY JEEZ! It's going to be $80.42!

Me: (Actually quite pleased. Way WAY lower than I feared) "Wow. That's quite reasonable."

Mr. Tumnus: "I've never, ever had anyone spend that much on postage! Holy Cow!" (I was afraid he was going to have a heart attack. Either that or I'd have to offer him a tin can just to calm him down) "And her name is McGruff the Kris?" (He's trying to finish the form so I can get out of there)

Me: "No. My name is Tony Kris, her name is McGruff the Crime Dog.

Mr. Tumnus: (Totally serious, like not even winking at me or anything.) "Not for long it's not. Whenever she gets this, she'll want to be McGruff the Kris."

I felt incredibly awkward after that. I paid my money and quickly got out of there. Still no word if the package made it through the warlords yet.


Monster Librarian said...

Tony Kris!!
Ha ha ha...I laughed so hard when I read this and TOTALLY got the Mr. Tumnus reference! Ha ha ha...I met a guy that looked so much like Mr. Tumnus (at a coffee shop--proof that they can be found everywhere!) that I literally had to look under the table and make sure the guy didn't have hoofs!!

Gardenbuzzy said...

Oh yeah! I got the Mr. Tumnus thing! I mean, my husband and I are anxiously waiting for the next Narnia movie to come out in May. WE grew up on the Narnia books and raised our sons on them as well.

Dale said...

Great post! You've put me in an amused state that I hope lasts all day!