Graham Turner: A Christmas revelation at the Post Office

Post Office, Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds
Post Office, Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds
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My heart sank as I approached the main Post Office on Cornhill at the start of my lunch hour – the queue was out of the door and down the steps.

I’m not a regular visitor to the town centre Post Office and now I remembered why.

I came close to turning around and heading back to the office – and the sandwich waiting for me on my desk – but it was the last day for guaranteed delivery of air mail to the USA and since the Christmas card I was clutching also contained a long-overdue letter to an old friend who refuses to go digital, I decided to just go for it.

And I’m pleased I did. It was a revelation.

The Post Office has come in for a lot of stick in recent years and my voice was among that clamour of disapproval – life’s too short to spend half a lunch hour in a queue slowly shuffling in serpentine fashion towards the two or three active counter positions.

Poor service, branch closures and a general air of decline seemed to blight the Post Office for a long time, but if my experience last week was anything to go by, it is an organisation (I refuse to call it a business) that has survived the dark days and come out the other side.

There were a lot of people in front of me, so yes, I was waiting for around 10 minutes, but I really didn’t mind – you don’t when the queue is fizzing along.

All the counter positions were in use and the announcements via the disembodied voice revealing the vacant positions were reassuringly regular.

Meanwhile, a very helpful chap was manning the self-service machine, giving guidance where required and also, very usefully, selling books of stamps.

And there were none of the muttered complaints and grumbles from customers that have provided a soundtrack to my previous visits.

So I was up to the counter in double-quick time and given a welcoming smile by the young lady behind the screen who quickly dealt with my simple little transaction.

I know this was just a single visit, but hopefully it’s the future for the Post Office. Well done to all of the staff, keep up the good work.

Of course, there was a sting in the tail . . . how can it possibly cost £2.10 to deliver a letter, even to the USA?