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Is it just me?

Photo by Evil Erin
Is it just me or has it become exceedingly difficult to get information from people these days?  Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm just not asking the right questions. Maybe you can help. A few scenarios:

Exhibit A
I'm at the post office. I'm mailing a package. It's a framed piece of artwork. The postal worker asks the requisite question, "Is there anything fragile, perishable, hazardous, or potentially hazardous?" [side note: I think they started asking this question when they stopped asking you at the airport if you packed your own bags.]

Me: Well, it's a framed picture. Is that fragile?
Postal Worker: Well, you tell me.
Me: Um. I guess. Sure. What difference does it make in mailing this?
Postal Worker: It just means I mark it as fragile. 
Me: Oh. Ok. Then, yes. I guess it's fragile. I'm not sure what you classify as fragile.
Postal Worker: Well, if it can break, it's fragile.
 Me: (in my mind) Well, I could break a lot of things if I throw them around hard enough. Did you really answer my question?
Me: (in reality) So how much to send this priority mail (as postal worker stamps the word "fragile" all over my package)?

I really didn't think it was such a ridiculous question. They don't tell you why they ask this question and if it meant that the package needed to be sent a particular way, maybe he could have explained that. 

Exhibit B
I'm trying to track down some information for a school district I work with. I'm at the school, speaking with the secretary, and the conversation goes something like this:
Me: I'm looking for this staff person's contact information so I can schedule a training with her. Can you help me?
Secretary: No. I don't have that information.
Me: Ok. Well, do you know who I could contact?
Secretary: Well, you could ask her (points to other secretary at the desk across from her). She might know.
Me: Ok. (I look at secretary #2) Do you know where I can get this person's contact information? 

Secretary #2: No. I don't have that information.
Me: Ok. Well, do you know who I could contact?
Secretary #2: Um. You could ask the principal (who is literally next door to this person's desk). 

Me: (to principal) Do you know where I could get this information (Please notice that I have asked the same question to three people who are all within 10 square feet of each other in the span of about 30 seconds and none of them seem willing to help me. At all.)
Principal: No. You could contact (person's name) in HR. 
Me: Ok. Can I get that telephone number?

Sheesh!  It was like pulling teeth. All three of these people were in positions where interaction with others and, more specifically, helping people is part of the job.  I think that you would expect them to be (maybe just a little) helpful. Am I out of line to expect people to help a little bit instead of being permanent members of the "your problem is not my problem" club?

I'm starting to wonder if maybe it's me. Maybe I've lost my ability to communicate effectively. Maybe I'm losing my patience. If so, please stage an intervention or just tell me to get a clue. If it's not just me, then can someone tell me how we fix this mess that has become our world because it's examples like this that make me want to go postal on people sometimes. 

Wait. Was that wrong?

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