Sometimes it seems like some people exist solely to make my life more diffcult. I had to deal with one of them today.
So I went up the hill just now to the Post Office to mail some manuscripts, including the short story I'm submitting to Strange New Worlds this year. I've done this several times before by now, and every time it's gone pretty smoothly: I bring my self-addressed envelopes with me, fill out the Priority Mail address sticker, stick the manuscript in a Flat Rate envelope, hand it to the clerk with the self-addressed envelope, and explain that I need return postage put on the SASE so the editor people can get the manuscript back to me. They do so happily.
Today, though, I must have done something to piss God off, because I got the mother of all stick-rectal dickwads running the only available window. I do my thing at the counter for all three manuscripts, then get in line for the window. Here's how the conversation went:
"I need return postage on those envelopes to go inside the bigger envelopes so they can send it back to me."
"What do you want sent back to you?"
"I need to know the weight."
"It's Priority Mail."
"You want it sent back to you Priority Mail?"
"If you want it sent back to you Priority Mail, you have to use a Priority Mail envelope."
"No I don't. I do this every month, and I always put one of these envelopes in for it to be mailed back to me. I just need to buy the postage."
"How much do you want?"
"Enough for them to send each one back to me."
He counts up three PM stamps. I get a little nervous, because one of them is going to and coming back from Utah, and according to the USPS website, it might cost more for them to send it back to me from Utah using a regular envelope.
"Will one stamp be enough for them to send it back to me from Utah?"
"Priority Mail is a flat rate. $X for the three stamps."
"What about the envelopes?"
"You got the envelopes."
"I usually pay for them, though."
*looks at the PM envelopes* "These don't have postage. You need to pay for the postage."
*rings up three more PM stamps* "$Y, then."
I pay, he passes the PM envelopes, the stamps, and my SASEs all back to me under the window. "Next."
Right. I put the stamps on the envelopes, seal the deal and all, and step back into line. When I get back to the front, I hold up the one going to Utah.
"Are you sure one stamp will be enough for them to send this back to me from Utah?"
"Priority Mail is a flat rate."
"Yes, with the flat rate envelope, but also with the manila envelope I brought from home?"
"Priority Mail is a flat rate."
Great. It's obvious Roboputz isn't going to be any help.
"Can I talk to the manager?"
"That would be me."
Oh, this day just keeps getting better, don't it? So I tell him, as nicely as I can, that he's been about as helpful as testicular cancer, pass the envelopes over, and tell him to have a nice day.
I figure it's about 50/50 that the envelopes will ever leave the Bronx. I sent emails to the two magazines (couldn't find info for the SNW editor, probably for good reason), asking them to let me know if the envelope ever actually makes it, which they probably won't, so I'll end up resending everything regardless.
The sooner electronic submission becomes the industry standard, the better.