Package center kiosks: a mixed blessing?
At the beginning of each semester, hordes of students rush to the package center to pick up textbooks, clothes, care packages and fake IDs. What should take only a few moments can turn into a 45 minute endeavor.
In response to this stampede, the package center in Lerner Hall set up student package kiosks in the Lerner Hall lobby early September. In theory, these kiosks allow you to swipe your ID downstairs so that someone upstairs can retrieve your package while you’re on your way up.
Unfortunately, these kiosks tackle the wrong problem. The real problem is the capacity of the system—the package center cannot handle many students picking up packages at the same time.
The limiting reagent in the process is the amount of employees retrieving packages. It is not uncommon to wait in line for more than half an hour until everyone in front of you has been served. Especially at the beginning of each semester there are simply not enough employees to retrieve the packages.
When there is a line, the kiosks only make the wait much, much worse. Since the rate at which packages are retrieved is the same as before, the average waiting time is practically the same. However, now there are two lines—a kiosk line and a normal line—moving at different speeds.
These kiosks turned the passive, collective process of all waiting in a fair line, into an active process of frustration and envy, with people in both lines stressing over the progress of the other line. I had some girl give me the death stare after my name was called out 10 minutes after I got there—she must have been waiting for a while.
The great thing is that right now there (usually) aren’t any lines at the package center anymore. And when this is the case, the kiosks are fantastic. All you do is swipe in the lobby, and your package will be waiting upstairs. Now that the package center is operating within capacity again, the process of picking up a package is pure delight because of the kiosks.
However, within the coming few weeks people will start ordering jackets, scarves, gloves, hats, and Halloween costumes. Especially now that it is getting colder and classwork is building up, ordering online will become increasingly appealing, meaning the package center will get overcrowded once again.
Lerner might want to take the kiosks away for these coming peak times, just to make us feel like we’re all in this together instead of causing contest and irritation between the different lines.
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