I had to post a newspaper to Dr John Floreen, director of the Rutgers University Choir in New Jersey USA this morning. The shiny new Post Office is conveniently situated in the Queen's Arcade, just opposite the sacristy where the church office is now running at last. To weigh the packet, I had to negotiate my way down the middle of two queues of people standing side by side, waiting to be served at the bureau de change counter. The weighing scales is mounted in between service windows on a small shelf, fifteen feet away from the counter that sells stamps.
So why is this? I asked the woman who sold me the stamps I needed.
Because the management won't let them have a weighing scales on the stamp counter, where it's really needed. The stamp sales-persons aren't trained to employ weighing scales as part of their service and advice to stamp purchasers.
And why not?
Well, it's something to do with dealing with packages they are not qualified to handle. Some packages (big or small for that matter) could require health and safety or anti-terrorism preliminaries. You know, the kind of stuff you get at airline check in desks.... Is this your parcel/luggage sir? Did you pack it yourself? Does it contain any of the following prohibited substances? Did anyone give you anything to carry in it? It doesn't quite go with selling of stamps and stationery. I guess you'd need training to take that seriously when it comes to weighing in a thick envelope weighing forty grams, otherwise you'd start giggling on the job, wouldn't you?
Alternatively you could move the scales right next to the counter, where stamp purchasers can weigh their own mail without hassling the bureau de change queues. And if you were to put a poster on the wall behind it with the usual precautionary interrogation written on it, you could have DIY security clearance, like you have with the computerised airport check-in systems, with a ticket print-out that gives you permission to buy the stamps.
In fact the combinations of irrelevant idiocy when common sense fails are limitless.