Friday, December 24, 2010

24 DEC 10: Going Postal

You see what day of the year it is. And I'm sure you know what it means. The clock is ticking for many people in the Columbus area. Only a few hours remain -- and then fireworks commercials will be back on TV for a week.

Post offices in the Columbus area are on a half-day schedule today. They were wise not to do that earlier in the week, when people rushed to put gifts and packages in the mail. So many customers showed up that you'd think a "Black Monday" would have occurred - with the Postal Service finally getting out of debt for the year.

I mentioned earlier in the week that I stopped keeping Christmas years ago. Yet I needed to put oversized work-related items in the mail this week, so I wound up at Columbus post offices three days in a row. It could have been worse, though - as some people have had their pictures on display at post offices for months.

Monday was supposedly the busiest mailing day of the year. I heard the news reports about that, but hoped a late-afternoon stop at the downtown post office would mean a shorter trip. What I found convinced me I don't think "outside the box" enough - or too many others did.

I opened the door at the downtown post office around 4:00 p.m., and found the longest line I'd ever seen there. I should have known I was in trouble when I saw one smart man in line reading a book....

The downtown post office is inside the federal courthouse -- and the postal line almost extended to the metal detector for checking courthouse visitors. A few more customers with big boxes, and I could have told you who's giving the nicest gifts this year.

"S**t! I need a pen!" a woman standing near the line declared. She had to fill out Postal Service forms to mail large boxes to someone in Afghanistan. Call me a profiler if you must, but I think the boxes were for a husband serving in the military. But I don't know the smell of nitroglycerin, if they were intended for someone in al-Qaeda.

That woman didn't have a pen - but I always have one in my little business case, so I lent it to her. As she filled out the forms, she discovered something I thought I'd already noticed. The address on the boxes had Afghanistan misspelled. What was that news story this week about potential soldiers not meeting Army standards?

The woman filled out the forms in a few minutes -- but the wait for me to reach the Postal Service counter was close to 30 minutes. Only two women were behind the counter helping customers Monday afternoon. It's hard to believe all the other qualified workers were gobbled up by Best Buy....

(So how many concerned customers went to Columbus post offices last Friday - fearful the shift of mail processing to Macon would make their gifts late? I've only had one bill arrive in the mail a bit late. And the payment to Columbus Water Works is still only one credit card swipe away.)

The next afternoon found me at the downtown post office a few minutes earlier -- and the line was only half as long. I joined the line at the threshold for the post office entrance, and stunned a woman in front of me when I mentioned Monday's wait. I was stunned in return to see a woman kick boxes of mail forward with high heels.

Tuesday's wait was only about 15 minutes - but when I discovered I'd need to make a Wednesday postal trip as well, I changed my strategy. I went to the midtown branch near Wynnton Elementary School. No, Teresa Tomlinson was NOT there thanking her adoring voters....

The parking lot at the midtown branch was relatively empty - but the line inside the post office was still lengthy. Only one woman worked behind a counter at 2:00 p.m. What do the managers at Burger King know that the Postal Service doesn't?

I stood behind two women with big items to mail. One was a long white Postal Service-approved tube, addressed to the San Francisco area. A Los Angeles address would have been more fitting - because I think that's where teenagers came up with the line about being "tubular."

I didn't realize the Postal Service weighs mail tubes by standing them on one end. The rolling process must wait until the tubes are put on trucks....

The wait for service in midtown was only about ten minutes. But of course, this was after the recommended deadline for mailing holiday packages. Customers either were spending more money for overnight or priority mail - or they're playing by Toyotathon rules, with the "holiday" extending until the first Monday of January.

By the way, the Postal Service still is looking for a place to move the downtown branch. Bars on Broadway are simply too successful these days....

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION on the Columbus Chamber of Commerce President ended Thursday night -- and 12 out of 13 voters say Mike Gaymon should NOT be ousted for putting on that white tablecloth to scare an employee. For a change, there was no last-minute rush of Zeph Baker employees to affect the outcome.

One voter in our atrociously nonscientific poll wrote civil rights activists "not only stretched but excessively emphasized" what was merely a "silly joke." But the comment went on to scold Mike Gaymon for a "cavalier attitude without a shred of compassion" toward low-income people. The Chamber of Commerce certainly doesn't prorate its membership fees.

Another voter suggested Mike Gaymon offer "at least an apology" for what he did two years ago, because it "wasn't done in good humor." Do we know that for sure? It's hard to see someone's face when it's covered by a tablecloth.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Visit "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: If you've been waiting for the other side of the Hurtsboro story, it reached us Thursday via the city clerk....

Mr. Richard

First, MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your family...

God Bless you for ALL the DRAMA you have to hear!

I want to apologize to everyone who reads our favorite citizen of Hurtsboro's blog..

You do realize that Every human being, company and city is hurting right now.. some more than others.. but we just are fortunate for our few citizens who have nothing better to do with their time then to try and start drama. I have honestly never heared of such!

Mr. Richard, it is common sense that when you spread gossip, especially that we don't have security or payroll not paid, you just allow the corrupt world to come knock on our doors, and me having a little girl at home, i don't apprieciate it.

Yes sir, payroll became difficult, but with God, and his will, things will get better. All things can happen through Jesus Christ who strengthens us!

I will pray for Mr. Schweiger and his health, and that he may find a happy place within himself, and that he to will become closer to knowing the Lord.

Well I have a lot of cooking to do for the wonderful holiday, and I hope you ALL have a Wonderful Christmas!! I can't wait to share the story with my little girl. Let her blow out the candles for Jesus's birthday.


Kimberly Key

(Not From Town Hall, This is My Personal Message)!

Some of this e-mail deserves comment in a Saturday post, and if time permits today we'll prepare one. But one person's "gossip" is another person's news -- and if a government of any size can't meet its payroll, isn't that a news item? Even Columbus Police might have complained about Mayor Jim Wetherington, if that happened.

Besides, the "gossip" about Hurtsboro not meeting the payroll for nine employees (including Kimberly Key) was confirmed to The Citizen of East Alabama last week by a Town Councilor. I'm not sure how that lets "the corrupt world" in -- unless she's talking about Auburn Bank foreclosing on the Town Hall.

We're still holding one other e-mail for fact-checking. So let's review a limited news summary from Thursday:

+ Gasoline prices jumped ten cents a gallon in parts of Columbus, as the national average went above three dollars. It looks like Safety Cab can expect a record number of calls over the next few days....

+ Auburn Police told WRBL they arrested a burglary suspect inside a house -- and caught Jerome Fields cooking ground beef in the kitchen. In this case, a criminal may have been caught red-meat-handed.

+ Georgia Tech disqualified four football players from next week's Independence Bowl, because they didn't make high enough grades. Wow, that has to be a disappointment - missing out on a free trip to Shreveport, Louisiana.

+ Instant Message to former mayor Bob Poydasheff: You may have won the Columbus "quote of the year" prize Thursday night on WRBL. I've never heard any former mayor declare, "I don't run around telling people I'm a heterosexual."

2010 IN REVIEW CON'D: May marked the start of the Columbus scandal of the year - based on the Parks and Recreation Department audit. It still isn't fully resolved, of course. The big issue in 2011 may be whether a grand jury decides to put Jim Wetherington on trial along with Tony Adams.

The focus on parks extended beyond "Rec-Gate," as razor blades were found taped to playground equipment at Lakebottom Park. I've seen a few skateboarders downtown lately who could use those....

A curious crime crackdown occurred in May, as Norfolk Southern went after people walking or sleeping along Columbus railroad lines. You steer them away from crack, then run them off the track -- and who knows how many homeless people won't be coming back.

Columbus Council voted in May to move its meetings to the proposed Citizens Service Center in MidTown. It was almost as if Councilors knew Teresa Tomlinson would beat Wayne Anthony to become mayor.

This blog made several curious discoveries in May about a Georgia House member from Columbus. Rep. Richard Smith lives in an Atlanta apartment during the legislative session. He pays rent for an expensive apartment in Cobb County. And he has a neighbor with the same exact name next door - who probably has taken all the angry calls from Tea Party members he can handle.

Muscogee County schools held their first "Signing Day for Scholars" in May. The brightest math students were awarded immediate internships, to help Superintendent Susan Andrews cut the district budget.

One school building met its demise in May, when the old Baker High School caught fire. Looking back over the year, a lot more people seemed more interested in saving and reopening Ruth Ann's Restaurant.

The Phenix City Council voted in May to remove the top leaders of the school board. But a Russell County judge blocked that several months later - and some people think the Superintendent will use winter break to research how to recall City Council members.

Sports was a month for sports champions in our area. Columbus and Glenwood won state baseball titles. Brookstone and Columbus captured golf titles. But I need help with one other detail - did any title belts change hands when WWE wrestlers were at the Civic Center?

The Blog of Columbus had more than 38,000 unique visitors in the first nine months of this year! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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