Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Post Offices and Poverty?

Today is Blog Action Day 08.

I'm supposed to write about poverty. I only found out about Blog Action Day yesterday, and I haven't been inspired to write anything. Just write about poverty. Why not try writing about peace or consumerism or greed or love or anything other category so entirely vague that it leaves the door wide open for all kinds of interesting discourse.

But it unfortunately leaves my mind blank.

Instead, I'll write about post offices in Austin. I just went to the post office on East Sixth Street. It's one of maybe two post offices on the East Side (this town is lacking in post offices and there are almost always lines). The one on East Sixth looks like it was built in the 60s and hasn't been renovated since. The floors are dingy, the flourescent lights are oppessively bright (although some bulbs are out). There's a poor selection of mailing supplies on sale, and the stamps in the display case are still priced at 39 cents.

Compared to the very new post office on trendy South Congress, the East Sixth branch is quite sad. I won't go as far as to accuse the postal service of neglecting the East Side, and the staff at the East Sixth branch are quite helpful and seem to take their jobs seriously (no pity parties there).

But I still wonder - is it any coincidence that the post offices are nicer in the parts of town where the new condos are being built and houses are selling at $400,000 upwards?

That said, I've been to some beautiful new libraries on the East Side. The Terrazas branch and the Ruiz branch, both east of I-35 and both beautiful facilities, are much better than the sad Twin Oaks branch just off the same trendy South Congress. So I can't say that the city is entirely neglecting East Austin. But the disparities are noticeable, and I wonder in what ways we can make up for them.

1 comment:

Heather P said...

In my home town some of the post office boxes still have combination locks instead of keys. The post offices are just older and not updated. Actually, our post office back home is not an official post office, but a contracted post office.

The situation in East Austin might just be that the post offices are older, and north Austin has newer post offices. Back home it took decades for the post office to get a face lift. I'm sure the post office is not making much money these days because of online bill paying and email, thus their high postage that deters me from being pen pals even more.

I guess my point is, that I don't think the lack of nice post offices in east Austin is on purpose. The display in the post office though that says $.39 is the responsibility of the workers that work in that branch, and not the USPS as a company. They need to get on that stick. Imagine if they did sell $.39 stamps though, what a way to get ahead of the other branches in revenue, if you accepted those stamps everyone would want to use your branch.

Side note: I heard from someone here that the most commonly used post office is off Jollyville Road in north Austin. I've been there, and I don't know if I believe that or not.