Consumerism

consumerism

I Went Postal (and it wasn’t pretty)

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Saturday morning, I paid a rare visit to my local post office — and gained some telling insight into the troubled institution known as the U.S. Postal Service. 

I went there to overnight a cashier’s check to a friend who needed it by Monday.

Not familiar with the process, I picked up what resembled a FedEx envelope and accompanying label. After filling out the label and adhering it to the envelope (as instructed), I got in line to pay for my transaction.

As I stepped up to the counter, an uber-serious Asian male took one look at the label and scolded me.

“Wrong envelope,” he said matter-of-factly.

The clerk then began trying to pry off the label I had so meticulously stuck to the envelope.

“Which envelope should I have used?” I asked sheepishly.

“Blue one,” he replied, grabbing a nearly identical-looking envelope from behind his counter. I noticed the blue-trimmed envelope was labeled “Express,” whereas my red-trimmed one was labeled “Priority.” Such an obvious distinction…

“Is there a reason why there aren’t any blue envelopes in the rack?” I asked in a pseudo-innocent tone.

“More expensive for customers,” he said.

Which didn’t really answer my question, of course, but did give me some perspective on the convoluted logic of our beloved USPS. 

Unable to successfully remove my label from the envelope, he asked if I minded completing another one. I gave him a well-earned eye roll, grabbed the new label and envelope, and retreated to the waiting area to repeat the addressing process.

I still can’t comprehend the logic of hiding the “more expensive” envelopes from public view. Not only does it fly in the face of basic customer service, but one might assume the “more expensive” envelopes also carried with them “more profit” to the U.S. Postal Service (an institution that has publicly acknowledged it’s losing billions of dollars).

No matter. The Express envelope is now jetting cross-country, and I learned an important lesson or two about Going Postal (sans violence).

The unfortunate reality is that this whole incident probably won’t even be possible in the near future, as Saturday services are likely to evaporate.

Why, you ask?

“More expensive.”

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What Your Donut Tendencies Reveal

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I’ve come to realize there are really only two kinds of people in the world: the glazers and the freestylers.

Glazers are laser-focused on donuts of the classic glazed variety. When bringing a dozen treats to the office, for example, you can be sure they’ll come armed with a box of absolutely uniform dough rings. Conversely, the freestylers like to mix it up a bit – a few crullers here, a jelly or two there, and a bunch of cream-filled confections to fill in the gaps. Variety is the spice of their life.

What’s most telling to me about these divergent donut tendencies is how they illuminate the true essence of what each camp values most: consistency or variety.

(Who needs a tired-old Myers-Briggs questionnaire when the Krispy-Kreme index will cut to the core of one’s very being?)

In case you’re wondering, I’m a definite freestyler. No question about it. I can’t begin to fathom why someone would want to limit her choices to a single (however delectable) variety. Don’t get me wrong, I can savor greasy glazed donuts as much as the next guy, but I just can’t resist being beckoned by the colors…the flavors…the fillings…the sprinkles…the shapes…did I mention the flavors?

Any glazers out there who want to make a compelling case for their worldview?

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[B – O – R – I – N – G]

 

Panic in the Toothpaste Aisle

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OK, I’ll admit it. Decisions have never come easy to me. The concept of keeping all my options open always strikes me as the best option of all (which may just have some obscure connection to my perpetual singleness…but I digress).

It was during a seemingly innocent trip to the neighborhood grocery store that my decision-phobia came face-to-face with its greatest nemesis: the toothpaste aisle.

Stretching as far as the eyes could see were tubes, bottles and canisters of every shape, size and variety. Pastes. Gels. Powders. More than 20 varieties of Crest alone. Sheer lunacy.

As I surveyed the bewildering landscape, I wondered how ANYONE might be able to thoughtfully hone in on the ideal choice for his teeth and gums. How could any choice NOT lead to some level of buyer’s remorse (“I think I should’ve gone with the 6 oz. tartar control striped gel pump…DAMN!”)

I also considered if having dozens of toothpaste choices might just stoke a sick demand for even more choices. A bottomless pit that no dental aid could ever satisfy.

Realizing I was getting needlessly worked up, I cooled off by taking a quick stroll down the adjacent aisle and then high-tailing it home. As I left the store – marshmallows in tow – I understood why shopping for toothpaste would always rank right up there with having a root canal. Or perhaps an extraction. Or maybe just a good old-fashioned scaling. 

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