Saturday, September 28, 2013

Waiting for the mail...

When you only have so many lifelines out of the north, when one of those goes through a major disruption people get very surly, very fast.

For example, about two years ago the satellite that provides most of the communications for Nunavut went down. It was very much like Nunavut got thrown back 50 year just like that. Internet, phones, television, banking….all were rendered useless. Hell, the airport went down for a day or so. People were deeply freaking out. It’s one of the reasons why there’s such a push for a fibre optic cable for Nunavut. Yes, it could still break, but at least it gives the territory more than one communications option than a finicky satellite.

The latest disruption is coming from Canada Post. Understand, the people of Nunavut and Canada Post have always had a…touchy relationship. There’s the belief, not exactly unjustified, that we pay way too much for a massively inferior postal service. This tends to ebb and flow, with the high points coming right before Christmas, when people are freaking out waiting for their gifts to arrive.

However, Canada Post is managing the rare trick of really pissing off people in Nunavut during one of the down seasons. The service to the north since about mid-summer has been awful. It’s taking weeks for things to get here. And what with the advent of online tracking, it’s no problem for people here to spot where the problem is – Montreal.

Seriously, depending on where it’s sent from, your package will normally make a speedy trip across the country, or around the world in some cases, hit Montreal and then stop. My favourite one for me personally was when I ordered some toys from China this summer. They made it from Hong Kong to Montreal faster than Montreal to Iqaluit. And not by a small margin either.

My Twitter feed is being lit up, daily, by people losing their minds wondering why one of their packages has been sitting in Montreal for weeks. And it is Montreal. One of the nice things about a small town is you generally have an idea of what’s going on. And let’s just say the local post office is quietly letting it be known that it’s not their fault there are so many delays. Not that it's always helpful to them. I understand there was a racket at the post office on Friday. A combination of a long line (about 15 people or so), only one person on the counter, and lack of mail caused some people to start yelling at staff. So things are reaching a boiling point.

There are some days you can tell that Montreal apparently decided to free up a bunch of Amazon orders because every second person is coming out of the post office with one of their boxes.

Now, there’s speculation that this drug bust might have slowed things down. The usual geniuses involved in the local dope trade were receiving ExpressPost envelopes filled with dope from dealers in Montreal. From my brief time working with the local Canada Post, I kid you not when I say we’re not dealing with rocket scientists. You could smell some of these bags from 20 feet away. Some were doing nothing to try and disguise the smell.

It’s times like this when I’m against legalization simply because I want an easy way to locate and remove the terminally stupid from society. This seems like a fairly easy method of doing so.

With this drug bust everyone is hoping the logjam breaks up and people can finally start getting their mail at the slow crawl we’ve all come to expect, as opposed to Canada Post basically forsaking us. I really hope so because when people don’t get their mail, man, tempers and nerves get frayed quickly. If it’s taking a month for an ExpressPost package to make it here during a slow season, I’m going to have to start ordering Cathy’s Christmas gifts three weeks ago in the hopes they might make it in time.

Look, I know Canada Post has bigger worries going on, what with them on pace to lose hundreds of millions this year. But their service in the north is an ongoing thing. There seems to be a real disconnect between Montreal and Iqaluit and it’s something that needs to be addressed. If the regional manager (who is often based down south) can’t do something about it, then perhaps it’s time for Canada Post’s president to make a trip to the north so he can understand what a vital lifeline the mail is for people and what these disruptions in service mean to people. It genuinely does weird things to people’s mental health. It can impact the economy. They need to explain why it takes weeks for packages to get from Montreal to Iqaluit and what they’re going to improve it.

There’s an election in Nunavut right now. I wonder if a clever candidate will make that an election issue…

Last Five
1. Greenland whale fisheries - The Pogues
2. Jealous of your cigarette - Hawksley Workman
3. Big parade - The Lumineers
4. Skinwalker - Robbie Robertson
5. Old man (live) - Neil Young


John, Canberra AU said...

Maybe Iqaluit has been an unwitting guinea pig for a new Canada Post package checking system (US sourced, of course). It makes sense, given the small fraction of CP's service that goes Iqaluit's way. The recent bust could just be publicity to get the funding for the nationwide system approved. When they have the full system in place, then Keystone XL will pass US Congress. Is that cynical enough?

Anonymous said...

My mailbox has been empty for almost two weeks. I've often wondered if the disconnect is in Montreal or if the packages are actually in Iqaluit yet to be sorted. I have never seen on my tracking anything that says enroute from Montreal and then it suddenly shows up in my mail box. The mail situation up here can certainly be exasperating. Especially when you are in the line up, only one person is working and then someone in the line ahead of you wants a money gram. Frustrating to say the least. The post office certainly could make some changes (perhaps going as far to limit money gram purchases to non-busy times). It's not just parcel time, there was a time it took a letter for me from Mississauga 1 month to arrive.....

Anonymous said...

One of the first things I was told when I arrived here a month ago was not to expect my mail in a timely manner. Knowing that, I still tracked my packages on and waited until the "expected delivery date" had passed before I started to get impatient. I called customer service and told them according to the tracking it had been sitting in Montreal for two weeks - it only took 2 days for it to get from BC to QC - next morning I checked the tracking and BAM it was here. So I have to agree maybe it is getting here and they have a staffing issue where they're not able to get it sorted. I have picked up other packages that arrive in a very timely manner AND to my excitement there were TWO people working!! (It's the little things right?) It seems that maybe they are starting to work out the kinks. So hopefully a little more patience and by Christmas it will be ok??? *fingers and toes crossed*