At the height of my snail mail submission days, I would go to the post office every six weeks to drop off 18+ envelopes containing my short story manuscripts. (I often had 50+ manuscripts circulating in the slush piles.) With email submissions, I seldom go to the post office anymore. That changed recently when I decided to pursue the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification for my non-writing tech career.
Although it’s possible to pass the CCNA without any Cisco hardware by using a software network simulator, I chose to build out my testing rack by acquiring three routers and two switches from Cables & Kits. That’s $400 USD in hardware for a $400 USD certification that could double my yearly non-writing income from $50,000 USD to $100,000 USD. If you have limited hands on experience with Cisco equipment, building out your own testing rack is the way to go.
For smaller stuff like interface cards, memory modules, network cables and tools, I turned to eBay to find cheaper deals. I discovered that I could buy these items for a few dollars above wholesale prices without paying the 50% markup at Cables & Kits or Fry’s Electronics. Everything I bought from eBay got shipped through the post office.
I noticed two things about mail delivery at my apartment complex. If the package was small enough to shove into the mailbox or a package lockbox is available, I’ll find either my package or the lockbox key in my mailbox. If the package was too big, I’ll find a yellow pickup slip to pick up my package from the Willow Glen post office. The postal person never bothers to see if anyone is at home to take the package. As a friend who worked at the post office once told me, the postal person has two hours to deliver mail to 300+ mailboxes and delivering packages to the door wasn’t part of that.
This pickup arrangement with the post office works fine for me. I cringed whenever I see an Amazon box being left out in the hallway, knowing how easy someone can walk by to steal the box. A San Francisco woman got so frustrated with her Amazon boxes disappearing that she chased the thief with a wooden sword and bear spray.
This week I went down to the post office to pick up several packages before going into work. One person stood at the package counter, three people stood at the retail counter. A wall separated the two counters. I stepped in line at the package window. The voice of a woman having a very intimate cellphone call drifted through the wall of mailboxes to my left. I don’t think the postal employees realizes that people can hear them talk from the other side, or they just simply don’t care.
The elderly man in front of me said that no one was around to help him. With the cellphone conversation still going on, I took several steps back to look at the other line and went to the retail counter. The postal clerk berated me for being in the wrong line, but, since there were no other customers in line behind me, she would get my packages anyway. We got into a spirited argument about whether being in the right line was more important than my limited time before going into work.
When she brought my packages to the counter, she said that the woman in back was helping another customer. I noticed the elderly man leaving the building empty-handed, and pointed him out to her that he had waited 15 minutes without being helped. She muttered that he should have used the bell to summon someone. When I mentioned that there was no bell at the package counter, she muttered that I was still in the wrong line.
Some things never change at the local post office.