The U.S. Postal Service long-ago introduced self-service kiosks that, at least in Porter Square, still require constant attendance by a postal worker. This seems to defeat the purpose, but, nonetheless, one of two workers hovered over the machine this afternoon, instructing the rare customer in its use while the line languished — growing five deep, then six, then seven.
“Anybody want to use the machine?” the worker asked. “It’ll save you a long wait in line.” Sometimes he amplified his sales pitch by noting that using the machine would save customers a “20- or 30-minute wait.”
When asked why he waited by the machine when there was such a long line of customers, the worker explained that employees on site have “no control” over how they spend their day; a manager for the city, who works elsewhere, decides how employees are used. When asked whether he could get behind the counter and help the lone worker there, doubling the effective staffing of the station, if no one wanted to use the machine … well, no. Even when the worker at the counter had to leave to use the restroom, he was prevented from budging from beside that ridiculous, job-destroying machine.
And when asked if this was frustrating, he replied, “You got that right.”
The worker ran back to her spot behind the counter. The line advanced one space.
From behind, the other worker could be heard making his pitch. When a customer responded, he could be heard assuring the man there was nothing to fear from using the machine.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory,” he said.