Going postal

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September 5, 2011

9:23 PM

For some of us, buying books can be an enjoyable, pleasurable time. Nothing is more exciting for a TWAMP than opening a crisp textbook with its fresh-from-the-factory smell or flipping through the pages of a book previously used and cherished. Of course, there are some potential stressors: A professor randomly decides to change the required books, or tells you the book you purchased in your frenzy of textbook buying excitement is actually free online, or maybe Amazon.com messes up your order and ships your package to Williamsburg, Iowa instead of Williamsburg, Va. This time around, it’s due to the fact that the College of William and Mary Post Office isn’t functioning as it should (or at least as a post office should in theory).

Yes, Hurricane Irene greatly interfered with the already overwhelmed business of the campus postal service. It makes perfect sense for there to be delays in service since the College was out of commission for roughly five days. But that doesn’t mean the post office should become defunct.

If you are unfortunate enough to be awaiting a package at this time ­— and this may be news to you — your package is one of dozens of packages that could be just lying about the Commonwealth Auditorium at the Sadler Center, where security is anything but superb.

Because the hurricane forced the postal service into such a frenzy, unusual even for this time of year, the process for picking up packages delivered during the evacuation is now such that a student must bring paperwork showing their package has shipped, not a notification stating that their package has arrived. Once a student shows said documents to the postal worker stationed outside the Commonwealth, the student can then enter into the auditorium-turned-package-purgatory and freely rummage through all of the packages.
All packages seem to be there — yes, that includes medicine and care packages. The way this system is set up, you could go through boxes and boxes while no one ensures others’s packages are safe and unharmed.

Frankly, this is no way to run a postal system, regardless of a hurricane or no hurricane. It’s appropriate to have extended hours while everything gets back to normal, but if the system in place is not effective (boxes everywhere in no particular order), not secure (showing a piece a paper is not an appropriate form of identification), and possibly illegal (you can literally go through anyone and everyone’s packages; we’re not pre-law but there is something fishy about allowing this), the postal service at the College needs to reassess how its handling of the post-Irene postal chaos.

When you take a TWAMP’s books away, it’s like taking a child’s blanket in the middle of the night and turning off the night light. It’s just mean. And as for the postal service, what would Benjamin Franklin, the nation’s first postmaster, say if he looked at the messy situation our postal service is in now? We think it would be something close to “what the heck?”

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