Frustration at the P.O.

(With apologies to Eudora Welty.)
Since I began unloading some CDs on Amazon Marketplace, I’ve been spending more time than usual at my local post office. In an effort to maximize my profit margin, like a good little capitalist, I’ve been using my tax dollar-funded government mail service to ship the Marketplace-sold items.
The majority of these items have been CDs, which I pop in to a CD mailer–purchased in bulk at our local OfficeMax–then slap a postage label on to before depositing it in the outgoing mail slot within the post office. I haven’t stood in line to interact with a postal worker to mail any of these items, instead using my good friend, the Automated Postal Center. (If you’ve never used an APC, think of it as an ATM that instead of dispensing cash takes it, and in return weighs your letter or light package and spits out the proper postage.)
So, as I was saying, I’ve always used the APC, and never had to wait in line to get postage.
Until today.
On Saturday, while out with my sweet, I stopped by the post office with the full intent of using the APC and leaving the outgoing CD in the appropriate mail slot, and getting on with the rest of our evening.
Only the APC was unable to dispense the postage for this particular parcel.
Because it’s going to an APO.
I got a message on the APC’s screen stating it was unable to provide postage for APO addresses, and I would have to stand in the always-long line and wait to interact with a postal worker. Sigh…
Today, after dropping the little phisch off at school, I steeled myself and entered the doors of the post office. Looking forlornly at the Automated Postal Center, standing by itself, waiting to be used, which no one was, I shuffled to the back of the already-long line.
Then I noticed that of the four stations at the counter from which a postal worker should be interacting with the citizens that fund their always-in-the-red dysfunctional “business”, there was one worker.
Twenty-five minutes later–I was so glad I had the foresight to bring a magazine–I began my interaction with the aforementioned solo postal worker. She did not know why the APC was unable to handle postage for an APO address. No, there was nothing really special about the APO address which would negate the APC being able to to process postage for it. It was likely just a matter of someone somewhere not having gotten around to programming the APC to handle APO postage. (Or better yet, some management bureaucrat not having made the decision to provide postage for APO addresses through the APC.) No, the APO postage for first-class mail was not any more expensive than first-class mail to any where else in the country. (Every CD I’ve shipped individually has been US $1.35. Every one. Including this one.)
So a half hour out of my morning to get the same little sticky piece of postage from a human that I could have gotten in two minutes from the Automated Postal Center. I’m thinking of running the calculations to see if the half hour of my time was worth the profit-margin savings. Then again, that just might frustrate me more.