By now many have heard about the outrageous spending spree the GSA (General Services Administration) went on last year in Las Vegas for a five day all-expense paid conference. The sickening details are too many for me to mention, so read NY Daily News piece here.
Nothing really shocks me anymore when it comes to the behavior of government workers and government agencies. And I’m sure many people over age 35 have their own personal examples of dealing with your all too typical government worker. (I’m sure younger people have experience too, but the question is do they even notice?)
My story happened during what was my first full-time job, but it’s still as fresh in my mind as it was the day it happened. My experience dealt with the great federal agency known as the United States Postal Service. It isn’t nearly in the same scope of the GSA and their extravagant conferences, but I like this simple yet telling example because it more or less exemplifies the behavior of far too many people that are employed by the federal government.
Before it was possible to get postage right from the U.S.P.S. website, many companies used postal meters; at least that’s what I think they were called. Anyway, being at the bottom of the totem pole at this job, one of my duties was to take this meter to the Post Office to have it refilled with postage.
There was a separate window just for these postage meters where you would hand the meter to the postal worker and they would refill it with the amount of postage you were paying for. At this point I had already been doing this task for a few months so I knew the drill and also knew who I had to deal with. Even though I got to leave the office for a while, I dreaded going there and dealing with this… Let’s put it this way; the person working this meter counter made a garden snail look like an Olympic sprinter. This woman had only two speeds: slow and reverse. Then again, the extra 300 hundred pounds she was carrying didn’t help her any.
I should also mention that she was as friendly as a mother grizzly bear caring for her cubs. The look on her face when she saw a customer at her window was as welcoming as the look a chicken would give Frank Purdue. Even most mother-in-laws get far warmer receptions.
Anyway, this particular day I came in to fill the meter and was greeted with her usual look of disgust. It then took her the usual 5 minutes to waddle the 15 feet from her work station to the window. I handed her the meter along with the check, being ever so careful to not have my fingers bit off. She then waddled back to her work station where she did whatever she did to fill the meter. I’m sure it was a simple task, but she made it seem like she was splitting the atom.
So after what seemed an eternity, (as usual) I saw her start to get up from her chair. This in itself was a formidable enough task for her; then she began her protracted 5 minute waddle back to the window to give me my now filled meter. It was at this point that even this lazy, lard-assed civil servant managed to take it to a whole other level.
Halfway to the window the phone by her work station rings. Now a normal person would continue walking the rest of the seven feet and hand the customer the meter, then go back and answer the phone. But this piece of work stopped dead in her tracks, and with meter in hand, turned around and walked back to her work station where she put down the meter, and picked up the phone.
Standing at the window in shock over the sheer stupidity of this person, and with 3 or 4 people now waiting in line behind me, I watched as this woman took what I heard to be a personal phone call. I can’t be honest and tell you that I remember what she was saying, but it was all personal in nature. She blabbed on without a hint of pressure or concern that customers were waiting for her, and that they most likely had to get back to work. Do this working at a Dunkin Donuts and you’re a goner.
After what seemed like an eternity although it was probably in the area of only six or seven minutes, (which in the Post Office feels like an eternity) she hung up the phone and started over the entire agonizing process of getting up from her chair and grunting her way back to the customer window; a process that made evolution seem like a quick walk around the block. Needless to say that she didn’t apologize for the long (longer) wait or thank me for my business, instead, she slammed the meter down with huge ‘thud’ and sent me on my way.
A transaction that should have lasted no more than five minutes took about twenty. I’d say that the equation is just about right; employees in the private sector probably do four times the work in an equal amount of time as compared to a government worker. Luckily for everyone I didn’t stay at that job too long or I may have gone postal myself.
Now hearing that the Post Office is broke and shutting down thousands of offices is as surprising as hearing that the rose this morning in the east. Is there any doubt that if the Postal Service were a private company they would have went out of business decades ago?
That frustrating yet hilarious experience has stuck with me for years and I even bring it up at parties (including physical reenactments of all her various mannerisms) when I see the gathering needs a quick spark. Soon enough everyone is talking about their own harrowing and funny experiences with various government workers/agencies –even the liberals.
And the Left wants more and more federal agencies filled with these types of dead-wood employees? But for the Socialists/Democrats it makes a lot of sense because this is a surefire way of stocking up on permanent voters.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, what happened last year with the GSA conference is probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to irresponsible waste at the expense of the American taxpayer. While people in the private sector suffer through layoffs, cutbacks, downsizing, and even bankruptcy and foreclosure, the government workers are fat, lazy, safe, and in the mood to party.
I was going to apologize to all the decent hardworking postal employees, but I’m tired of doing that. So get upset if you must.