Friday 15 May 2015

Happy Retirement

Today I am going to wish a woman that I worked with for many years a happy retirement. Her father worked as a letter carrier and both her sister and she followed in his footsteps. She started working very young and has been a carrier for closer to forty years than thirty. She had the years of service to retire, but not the age. She has earned some rest, but knowing her, rest is the last thing on her mind.

Well, I hope that I will be able to wish her a happy retirement, I am not sure if I will be allowed into the building. In the past ten years the Post Office has become security insane. They aren’t the only company that has heightened their corporate security in recent years, but they might be the only place that really has no secrets to keep from competitors. Actually, there are no competitors worthy of note. There is no secret way to drop a letter in a box. There is no secret knock that only the Post Office and thirty million Canadian households know of. The carriers aren’t trained in covert delivery and the only disguise used is that the uniform tends to blend into the background.

The last time I tried to get into a smaller Postal outlet, for work, I either had to wait until someone opened the door for me or they gave me a pass that said VISITOR. They could have given me a pass that read RETIREE or HARMLESS which would have been more accurate. Maybe there is some secret technology that I was never privy to, but if I were trying to keep a secret, secret, I would hire people with a lot more discretion and a lot more smarts.

When I was working at the sortation plant, there was little or no security, we didn’t really need any. Sometimes a confused citizen would accidentally wander into the open door of the plant and someone would ask him if there was anything they could do for him. Invariably he would tell us that he was looking for his mail and we would tell him where he had to go to pick it up. It was a nice little break for us and good PR for the Post Office. I suppose that a terrorist could have come into the plant back then with a bomb or a gun but the Post Office isn’t a very effective target. If you blew up a Post Office, half the people would say “Good, no bills for a week!” and the other half would say “I didn’t know there was a Post Office there.” No one would care.

Now when you go up to the sortation plant it looks like a Department of Defence installation. There is only one main entrance which is guarded by a security gate that has razor wire along the top of a ten foot wire fence, festooned with signs warning you away. You have to talk to a very serious, untrusting security guard and God help you if you don’t have an ID card or the name of someone that has put you on a list. Once through the gate, you can park your car and then proceed to the security office where you are again grilled about your business and made to wait until the person you are there to see comes to escort you to their office.

Once inside it is the same non-descript place it has always been. There doesn’t seem to be anything clandestine happening and if I didn’t know any better I would say it is just an office building on the upper floor and a nearly automated plant on the bottom floor. They still just process the letter you sent to Aunt June for the price of a stamp. I suppose there could be several sub basements where they do information collection and distribution, but I doubt it. It is far more likely that the powers that be have just gotten far more paranoid over the years.

Anyway, I’ll go over to wish Adelle a happy retirement and if I can’t get in, then I’ll just toddle off to Tim Horton’s for a coffee so the morning won’t be a total loss. I think I can still get into Tim Horton’s…

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