Take a number! But what number?
Yesterday, I went to our local post office branch, to pick up a couple of deliveries from abroad.
When I arrived, there was the usual (out the door) queue, but something seemed not quite right. There was something different in the air. The queue, amazingly, seemed more chaotic than usual. Eventually, the realization came: they had installed a new ticket machine for customers. People with tickets were popping in and out of the place (and moving around inside) to check their number, and progress.
OK. First challenge. How do I get a number?
I spotted the machine. In essence, there were two choices:
- A ticket with a number for customers wanting general postal services
- A ticket with a number for customers wanting to collect parcel deliveries
So, I took the second type of ticket. The general service numbers were running in the 200s, the parcel pickup numbers were running in the 700s. I waited.
I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited.
You get the picture. All the time, the queue grew. There was more of a balagan.
Another person, also waiting for a parcel pickup, complained that the only numbers being called were for general services. Unbelievably – and this happened right in front of me – the clerkess ignored the complaint and the person making it. It was as if the complainer did not exist.
The only solution was to go back and take a general services number. So that’s what that person and I did.
It appeared as if they had newly installed the machine, had fully mastered the issuing of numbers, but had no bloody clue about how to integrate the two lists when calling people for service. What a shambles. And, judging by the quantity of tickets being thrown away, many had worked this out for themselves (from prior experience?) and had automatically taken two tickets.
It did sort of sort itself out, and I got my deliveries.
The split numbers are a daft idea given their existing resources – it’s a small office, with a maximum of three service points. But, even more practically, what about the person who comes to the post office with a requirement for general and parcel services? Hmmm.
I hope they have it better the next time. However, at least I know what the best approach is: always take both numbers!