Dear Answer Man: Recently, while mailing some correspondence (despite our e-connected world, some people still write letters) I noticed a sign prohibiting the use of cell phones in the post office. I was wondering, is this a move toward promoting common courtesy, or is there a security or privacy reason behind the ban? Thanks. –- A Reader and A (Letter) Writer.
Dear Read and Write: Let me take my ear buds out and see if I can put my special stamp on this question for you. Not wanting to show my face in the post office lest some handsome criminal on a wanted poster bear a striking resemblance to yours truly -- I've been accused of roguish good looks, and, frankly, I'm guilty of that – I was unfamiliar with any "No Cell Phones" rules at the post office.
So, I reached out to Kristy Anderson, strategic communications specialist for the United States Postal Service for Minnesota, Iowa and other adjoining areas. According to Kristy, the policies for no cell phone usage are "generally for courtesy when approaching the counter to conduct a retail transaction so the clerk is not waiting or holding up the line while someone is on the phone."
It's also so hazmat questions and other imperative transaction questions may be conducted.
In other words, pay attention when being asked whether there are any flammable liquids, etc. in that suspicious box you're about to mail. Even though we all know it actually contains the worst substance known to man: A Christmas fruitcake.
"We also do not allow videoing or photographing without permission or in the transaction area for sanctity of the mail and personal banking information of our customers," Kristy said.
That's a nice way of saying, "You don't want anyone recording you when you type in your PIN number, so don't do it to others."
All of this makes perfect sense to me and, frankly, these postal rules should be expanded to the grocery store, the gas station and just about anywhere you're conversing with real people who don't have all day to wait for you to gossip with your Answer Aunt about your personal life.