Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Federal Offense

One of the letters I pulled out of my mailbox yesterday had already been opened. It’s possible that it was a cheap envelope with weak glue. It’s also possible that the envelope and its contents had been tampered with by a prying, preying postal worker.

At least I was allowed to see this letter. The USPS selectively delivers my mail. I get the bills, greeting cards, wedding invitations, and junk. But forget about any reliable receipt of even slightly oversized regular-mail packages. And, more than once, I’ve gone for weeks without getting my Newsweek magazines. My senders, the Newsweek subscription office, and I blame the federal postal system. The federal postal system blames my neighbors. “Maybe someone in your building took them,” a postal employee proposed over the phone. I know the people in my building and none of them are the stealing kind. Nor can I envision any of them reading Newsweek.

When I first realized I wasn’t always getting all my mail, I launched a two-week, one-woman investigation. Most of those two weeks were spent trying to get a relevant person on the phone. When I finally got ahold of someone at my local station office, after getting hung up on a few times, there was a series of heated, early-morning phone conversations with multiple mail carriers, who all turned things around and accused me of improperly accusing them of mail theft (I never accused, I implied). They mocked me - I heard them in the background. And I still never got those packages.

The USPS is an above-ground, federally-mollycoddled, less charismatic version of the underworld. The Gambinos without the guns and gusto.


  1. Well, hate to say it but you need to live in the country! Our mail carrier, Joe, drives down our long driveway whenever we have a package too big for the mailbox and beeps the horn so that someone will come out and get it, to save us a trip to the P.O. If no one responds to his beep, he gets out of his Jeep and finds a place to put the package under cover, but in plain sight, so it doesn't end up outside in bad weather. So my view of the USPS is worlds away from yours!

  2. I was sorry to hear of your troubles with the post office. One of the things I have become aware of recently is that the post office is in the process of being downsized, and severely at that. I learned this through a friend who is a postal worker. I wonder how a modern nation can survive without an efficient and honest postal system. It's true we have email, but that does not cover all that needs to be transmitted and transported. It's a sorry day when a person cannot depend on receiving a magazine she has subscribed to.

  3. My dear, when you live in the jungle, you have to learn how to deal with beasts not trained to deal with kind people like you. I have been trained during my 62 years that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and that incident was one that happened to you. Drama, and more drama, but without it, we wouldn't have much to blog about. So a toast to those "get me out of here" moments. Enjoyed reading your take on things. Glad I got to meet you.