We all understand why laws are made, and why regulations and policies are put in place in conjunction with the laws. However, at times, many of us are at a lost when we encounter situations with many government services that we find difficult to understand.
Since the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria it appears to me that many people in government who are supposed to work for the people — and should be doing all that they can to assist the public — often seem to go out of their way to make life more difficult for the same people they are supposed to be helping.
Bear in mind that the people we encounter typically are not the ones who make the laws, regulations or policies, but they are given basic instructions by their department head. However, these front-line employees should have the ability to use their discretion. Unfortunately, here in the Virgin Islands it appears that many frontline employees — and, in many instances, their immediate supervisors — lack this basic ability.
No matter how long you know a public officer — and whether they are family, friend or foe — unless you have a picture ID, it is getting more and more difficult to do even the simplest business with the banks and government.
Here is a simple example. We are all aware that a great number, if not all, post office boxes were destroyed or are not accessible. Therefore, all box holders are required to pick up their mail at the post office. Here you are required to present your ID, which is understandable, but having to do the same thing six days a week makes absolutely no sense.
‘Lack of common sense’
The reason for renting a mailbox is personal convenience, especially since there is no mail delivery throughout the VI. Now with no access to post office boxes, one must continue to pay full rent and journey to the post office during post office hours. After considering this, I decided to surrender my mailbox and have my mail sent to General Delivery. Here is where I encountered the worst lack of common sense.
Now that I have surrendered my box after more than 30 years, I was told that I can no longer receive mail that may be in the post office for me that has my former box number since I no longer own the that box. I then asked if the mail will be sent back to the sender, and they said no. In addition, I was told that I should write a letter asking to forward all mail to General Delivery and pay a $40 forwarding fee.
I am not getting my mail and they are not returning it to the sender. Are they going to throw the mail in the garbage or burn it?
I asked to speak to the postmistress and was told that she was not in. I then asked to speak to her assistant and received the same reply. I have since spoken to a former employee who told me that one should receive their mail and should have a three-month grace period to receive their mail, giving them enough time to notify those with whom they correspond of their new mailing address.
Residents and visitors alike are always complaining about customer service here in the VI, and more often than not they are right. It is a common concern and talk among many as to qualification to do a job. Are qualification and ability the same? There are many people who may be qualified to do a fantastic desk job and be a great asset to their employer, but put on the front line to serve customers they could bankrupt the same business because they do not have the ability to deal with people.
I am not saying that all the employees at the post office are giving bad service. The vast majority of them are always pleasant and smiling, but there are one or two who need to be in the back and not serving the public.