Going Postal 

I was mailing a package at the Post Office on 116th street in Harlem when I noticed that the window separating me from the teller was cracked. 

Not just a little, a lot. 

I asked the woman behind the counter what happened.

“People get angry and slam the window,” she said.

“Does that happen a lot?” I asked.

“Several times a week.”

I looked to my right and realized every window in the row was badly cracked.

“Do they ever get fixed?”

“Every few months,” she said. 

“Going Postal” was a phrase coined in the mid 1980s to describe a series of shootings by postal workers angry about life and working conditions. Their co-workers were often the victims. 

The teller told me that these days she’s more worried about customers who come in seething. They are set off by any number of delays or disappointments. 

To be fair, it could be the service. The Google reviews of most post offices in New York City are scathing. The three nearest locations all get 1 ½ stars out of 5. (You cannot give less than 1.) 

It’s worth pausing to explain how the windows at the Post Office work. 

There are two windows separating a space where each package is weighed. Only one can be open at a given time. That means when you open the glass to hand in your package, the postal worker’s window is down. You have to then lower your glass for them to retrieve the box. 

When customers are displeased for any reason they make it known by slamming the window.

The woman in line behind me overheard our conversation and piped in. 

“It didn’t use to be like this,” she said. 

She said people were angry due to the general state of the country, Covid, the economy, masks, the increase in crime and malaise in general. 

“It never seems to end,” she said.