June 1 Frivolity: Encounter with USPS

In celebration of having my first book—Laughing at Life—reprinted, here’s one of the 30 stories in that book.  If you enjoy my Friday Frivolities, you can easily order Laughing at Life…Laughing in Stitches…or, Laughing while Shopping ($8 each) by writing me at EdLaughing@yahoo.com or filling in the form at the bottom of this blog

An Encounter with USPS

It might be very good cookware, but T-fal cannot free-fall from the hands of a 6’4″ klutz and survive unscathed.  I checked the web for info on how to get a new handle.  Believe it or not, there were no T-fal sites that would sell me a handle.  My only option was to send it to their Customer Service Center.  I packed it up and headed for the Post Office.

As I set the package on the counter, I inquired, “How much to ship this?”

“What is it?”  the clerk asked pleasantly.

I explained, “It’s a broken cooking pot that I need to send in for repair.”

“Do you want to insure it?”

“Not hardly.  It’s broken.  Can’t use it like it is, so why insure it?”

“Because, if it gets lost, you can collect the money to replace it.”

“Okay, how much to insure it?”

“How much is it worth?”

“Nothing.  It’s broken.”

“Then that will be $1.35 minimum charge.”

“You want me to pay a buck thirty-five to insure something that’s worthless to me in its present state?”

“Well, Ed,  (She knew me…I’ve been there before) it’s just an option I needed to suggest.  How about putting a trace on the package?”

“A trace?  It’s right there.  It has zero value.  What’s to trace?”

“If you don’t purchase a trace on it, the company could claim they never got it.”

“So?  It’s no good to me like it is.  It’s just like with the insurance.  If they don’t get it, or if they claim they don’t get it, it’s no different than if they won’t fix it.”

“Well, Ed, the Postal Service recommends traces for packages in situations like this.”

“How much for a trace?”

“Fifty cents.”

“Okay.  I’ll take the trace.”

“Let’s see…First Class, with Trace, that will be $7.95.”

“I don’t need First Class.  Isn’t there a cheaper way to send it?”

“If you don’t send it First Class, instead of 2-day delivery, it might not get there for a week.”

“What do I care?  It’s not like we need this pan for dinner this weekend.  How much for slow class?”

“Parcel Post would be $6.60.  But the trace costs twenty cents more.”

“You charge more for a trace on second-class mail than for first class?”

“Yes.  We have to make up for the lost postage somehow.”

“All right, all ready…First Class.  I’ve got the stamps, so don’t print out one of those meter stamps.”

“You’ve got that many stamps?”

In fact I did.  You see, I’m a stamp collector, and when I order stamps from USPS Philatelic sales, they only sell them in quantities that are generally more than I need for my collection.  So I’ve always got scads of extra stamps to use up.  I was pulling stamps out of my surplus box, adding up values, to get the necessary $7.95.

“But you can’t use those, Ed.”  She interrupted my counting, pointing to a particular strip of stamps I’d selected.

“Why not?”

“Those stamps are for bulk mail.”

“Yeah…and this package is plenty bulky.”

“And you can’t use these either,” she exclaimed.  “They are for Non-Profit use.”

“But they have a value, and I paid for them.  They should be like legal tender.  Why can’t I use  ’em toward the $7.95?”

“Because they were intended for other uses.”

“Hey, these 24-centers were intended for post cards, yet I can use a bunch of them, can’t I?”

“Ed, just give me your box of stamps and I’ll figure it out for you.”

She took the box of stamps and the package into the other room.  When she returned, the stamps were affixed to the package.  “There.  All set to go,” she proclaimed.  “Here’s your box of stamps back.  I only used 4 cents more than the required postage.”

“Four cents!.  You put an extra four cents on my package?  How much more insurance will four cents buy?”

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