Post Office Etiquette
On two occasions this week I found myself standing in line at the post office, mailing presents to friends and relatives in other parts of the world. I do it every Christmas, along with millions of other gift givers. How nice of us. What struck me this year is, we're all in need of a refresher in post office etiquette.
Everyone’s busy and you’re not alone in your delivery requirements and deadlines. As you rush to get your parcels to Timbuktu and beyond, please remember the following:
* Have your package ready for posting. I cannot believe how many people show up with a pile of presents that have been gift wrapped in nice shiny paper with bows, but are not wrapped in the appropriate packaging for mailing. Would you show up at the airport holding a pile of clothes and and ask the ticket agent what kind of suitcase to use? Buy shipping supplies and address packages before you get in line. This morning I stood behind a woman who didn’t even have the receiver’s address handy and had to rummage through her bag to find it.
* Do your research in advance. You’ve already bought the gift. You knew you were going to have to ship it. Is the price of shipping going to mean little Billy might not get that toy? I’ve actually seen people ask about postage prices – running through all the different options for delivery times – and then choose not to ship. Are they comparing prices with other shipping companies? All this information is available online. Know what you want before you leave your house.
* Shop online. The number of packages I send has been drastically reduced thanks to my best friend during the holidays: E-commerce. So much of what you’re buying can be purchased online, while in your pjs, and shipping often winds up being cheaper or even free, especially when you consider the cost of packaging materials, gas and parking. Or check out Canada Post’s Click-and-ship service for another way to avoid the post office altogether.
* Stay focused. This isn’t the time to peruse all the stamp options or ask questions that don’t pertain to your immediate Christmas shipping tasks. Will rates go up next year? When is home delivery stopping? Who cares! You’re holding up the line. Besides, everything you want to know about stamps and all things postal is available on this thing called the Internet.
* Be patient with those who break the rules. Earlier this week when an elderly woman couldn’t decide which box would best suit the Lego she was shipping, a group of us pitched in and wrapped the box for her. It was a group effort. Those of us in line started out irritated by how disorganized she was. But by the end when we were all lending a hand it turned hilarious and we’d done a good deed. It is Christmas after all.