I used to think concepts like institutional memory were fairy tales but no longer. There are some companies where resentment is baked in, where the culture is ingrained. Canada Post can’t say “Let’s do a restart” and hold pep rallies. Their best shot is to robotize the whole system, but it would probably do a Phoenix pay system on them.
Now that the rotating strikes have hit Toronto, we have been warned we won’t get mail. But I didn’t get mail before the strike. Canada Post no longer delivers parcels to my door. My previous mail person, helpful and kind, has been replaced by the Man Who Wasn’t There.
Someone leaves a “Seems we missed you” parcel tag in the mailbox and runs away without ringing the doorbell. Sometimes it’s a trick; the parcel isn’t even on the truck.
So I walk to a shabby desk at the back of a Hallmark store (another vanishing industry) and give the tag to a man who doesn’t like me because I always say we were home when the parcel wasn’t delivered, so who’s responsible.
“I don’t know these people,” he says.
A mail service delivers. In contrast, Canada Post delivers notices to come pick the stuff up yourself. So I have all bills sent online and only order from businesses that use good private couriers. If you didn’t get your cannabis, was it nondelivered by Canada Post?
The union is striking over the curse of the modern age, precarious contract workers not being made full-time with benefits, just like adjunct professors, newsroom interns, contract cleaners and other tech disruption victims. Good for CUPW.
But here’s the truth. Never strike in a declining industry. All you do is alienate the public, who escape you, as I did, and the small businesses that go elsewhere.
The union is right to say rural mail carriers should earn as much as urban ones, especially since rural workers tend to be female. But Swift Current rents don’t approach Toronto ones. Shouldn’t Toronto workers get a housing bonus?
CUPW’s idea of banking in rural post offices as Canada’s small town banks vanish is a good idea. So it’ll never happen.
And Canada Post’s exciting new idea? The ads say “New Canada Post concept stores redefine convenience with cool, customer-friendly features. Experience the post office of tomorrow, today!” With free Wi-Fi. Cool. It turns out that concept stores are drive-thru post offices to which you drive or walk to pick up your mail. It sounds very much like what we have now, with the added convenience of a fitting room to try on clothes you’ve ordered online and return them. Advice from a feminist: never get naked at work. Don’t even get flu vaccines. Employers should never be allowed to get beneath your clothes.
My new advice is don’t get naked in the post office. I’m not just talking about voyeurs drooling over the hidden camera possibilities, I’m talking about the shabby misery of trying on what in hindsight was an $800 blood-coloured, see-through floral prison uniform in an ugly cubicle in the unforgiving light of what sounds very much like a gas station. You really don’t know women at all, do you, Canada Post?
Here’s the problem that Canadians and their postal workers have never been able to get across to management. Canada Post’s job is to deliver everywhere across the nation, to cities, towns, islands, isolated villages and the inconveniently far North. It’s self-sustaining and profitable, but it shouldn’t have to be. It’s a public service. If it delivers mail, it fulfils its mandate.
How Canada Post manages to screw up in the Amazon era of delivery remains a mystery.