Thank you Bill Bennett of Alexandria. You have given me an opportunity to sound off about a pet peeve of mine.
Bill recently received a notice of a conference to be held on June 4. The notice was postmarked on June 2 in Providence, R.I., and stated that the last day for registration would be June 3. Bill received the notice on June 4. He thinks this is pretty goot postal service from Rhode Island, but not a very good showing for a $395 seminar on "Decision Support Systems."
This sort of thing has become one of my pet peeves because every writer with a daily byline receives invitations of this kind regularly. They are postmarked the day before the event, the day of the event, and sometimes a day or two after the event. I kid you not.
Postal service is indeed good, but even the UPS cannot deliver letters before they are mailed.
Mailings of this kind irk me because I am a capitalist. I believe in free enterprise. I believe that advertising (not just newpaper advertising but all advertising) is essential to let potential consumers know what is available. But it drives me up the wall to see free enterprise poorly managed.
Those who send out mail for business firms are sometimes the "invisible" people on the payroll. An invisible somebody is supposed to send out a notice, a bill, an announcement or a letter. An invisible somebody else is supposed to run that mailing through a postage meter machine and get it into the hands of the Postal Service. But all too often, some invisible somebody in the chain of command fails to do his job in a timely fashion.
This results in announcements that don't go out on time and bills that don't go out on time. Potential customers can't buy, potential bill payers are late in paying. Either way, the company loses.
Managers and other supervisory executives are paid pretty good money to know what is going on in departments under their supervision, but very often they do not. It never occurs to them to put themselves into the position of a customer and try to call "Customer Service" as their customers are invited to do. It never occurs to them to stand in lines to patronize their own firms as they hope others will. It never occurs to them to ask for credit, or to try to pay by check. They just don't know what customers and potential customers must endure.
In my time, I have patiently lectured several generations of copy boys (we call them "copy aides" now) about the importance of taking telephone messages properly. Because I am ungrammatical in everyday speech, I eschew the subjunctive and say to them, "If it wasn't important, the company wouldn't hire you to do it." They look at me as if I were a man from Mars. Their view of it is that this was just one more in a thousand phone calls that came in during the day. Who cares?
I care. Many an invisible person who thinks of himself as the insignificant low-man-on-the-totem-pole is invaluable to his company. He can make or break the entire operation.
In our own field, our renowed editors send skilled reporters to Timbuktu to cover a story, and the company pays unbelievable cable tolls to receive the dispatches those reporters send back, but all goes for naught unless a 14-year-old carrier delivers the paper to the subscriber's doorstep the next morning.
Bill Bennett, I thank you for giving me an opportunity to vent my frustration. If the Food and Drug Adminstration is interested, I am prepared to testify that you are more effective than Valium.