An Illogical Interruption
The Italian Post Office was, contrary to what you might expect, one of the things that worked. There was a line, and people waited on it (very unusual for Italy). Because everyone knew when it was almost their turn, they had their papers in hand ready to go. When you got to the front of the line, you watched the three windows, and when one was free, you walked up and the person behind the window helped you. It was really very efficient. And even though the post office never seems to be open in the afternoon, or early in the morning, or on the weekend, or during lunch … at least I knew that if I got there M-F between 10 and 11, I could accomplish my one task and be done. (I have to pay my internet bill in cash in person at the post office after they mail me the bill … don’t get me started on that one.)
Well, it happened, they broke the Post Office. They added a number system. Now you press a button corresponding to the service you want, and it prints a number. No problem, right? It’s essentially the same. You’re still in a figurative ‘line’ behind the person who has the number before you. There are still three windows. Each time the person behind the window finishes with one person, they can just press a number to call the next person. You still know when it’s almost your turn by watching the previous numbers. Right? Right?
Yeah, not so much.
Now the person behind the window feels to time pressure and no personal responsibility towards moving on to the next customer. There’s no one standing right at their window as soon as they finish the previous transaction. So, they take their sweet time. They count money. They hang their calendar up. They go for a walk. They get a coffee. They wait for the previous customer to leave the building.
Now the person who is next in line doesn’t know how long they’ll have to wait. It could be 15 minutes. So there’s really no reason to dig through your briefcase and get out the things you’re going to need to take care of. You may as well wait until you get up there, and just unpack on the counter. (At least, I assume that’s what they’re thinking.)
Way to go Italian Postal Service, you just fixed the only problem you didn’t have – and broke it in the process.