Monday, January 4, 2016

Fun with the USPS

No doubt most of my readers are, like the Idiosyncratist,  regular customers of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

What a fun bunch of people those postal folks can be.  Just about every month at our house, they deliver mail addressed to our neighbors -- sometimes the next-door folks on to the north, other times to the southern family.  This community-building effort gives us a chance to engage with others in our town.

Pretty darn thoughtful, when you think about it.

A Short Absence

Last month, the Significant Other and I were out of town for five mail-delivery days.

When we got home, we found two (or perhaps three) days of mail on the doorstep.  The next day, when we had asked for delivery to resume, we received no mail at all.

Obviously, our local postal folks wanted to see us.  The SO obliged by stopping at the post office to pick up held mail, advise a clerk that we were back in town and thank the larger group for their kind regards.

(As usual, the SO waited in a long line while the only clerk on duty at our four post office counters helped other valued customers.
     Oh, the happy memories I have of the years before email tax filings when, on April 15, I stood on line for hours outside the doors of our local postal office to send return-receipt envelopes to the IRS and various states' tax agencies!  On those special days, there were TWO clerks at work.)

A Long Absence

More recently, the SO filed an official paper letting USPS know that we would be out of town after January 1 and for three months.

Ha ha ha.  Our travel was delayed by a funeral, but somehow our local post office friends knew this before we did.  Today they delivered our mail anyway.  Prescient folks, those.

Or maybe not.   When the SO went down to the local postal branch to inquire, he was told that a new postal employee had ignored a correctly filed forwarding instruction.  How lucky we were that s/he decided to drop the mail at our home anyway.  Imagine our happy suspense about what will happen after we do leave!

This is not a new thing.  For the last several years, the SO and I have spent several months out of town.  We have learned that when this happens, the postal employees really miss our company.

How else to explain why it takes 10 business days  to print yellow stickies with our forwarding address -- and then more time to send the mail on?

This happens going and coming.  It is why we have stacks of stale magazines both here and there. It is also why we have adopted online billing for every bank account, mutual fund, IRA and credit card we have.

Our local postal employees do seem to enjoy their hijinks, but at some point you have to revert to systems that work, especially when your finances are involved.

Christmas Postal Stories 

New York papers carried three fun holiday stories about postal employees this year.  (There may have been more in previous years, but the Idiosyncratist has a life and limited time for research.)

     -- One letter carrier, assigned a new route, was overwhelmed by the volume of December packages, presumably presents, that he was expected to deliver to residential addresses.  He dumped many of the packages -- except a few that he opened to discern their contents -- and was caught out when the garbage bags he had used to stash the undelivered packages were found and reported to the police by people in his neighborhood.

     -- A second, more discriminating letter carrier devised a system to identify envelopes carrying gift cards.  He opened an unknown number of these and spent the gift-card money; only after a careful mother reported the number of a missing gift card sent to her son did investigators begin to look for video evidence of fraud, which turned out to be ample.  Nobody knows how much the guy stole from people on his postal route.
    ( Reading this news report reminded me of the many coincidences that occurred 10 years ago, when we received notices from Netflix informing us that the red envelopes we put in the mail had disappeared mysteriously between the letter box and their destination.  Hm.)

     -- A postal employee at a Manhattan office worked the "Santa desk," where needy children send letters asking for gifts.  Generous citizens pick up the letters and -- spoiler alert! -- spend their own money to fulfill the children's requests. Turns out the desk worker, and her friends, wrote a number of Santa letters that resulted in munificent gifts to themselves.

Ask and ye shall receive, the Christians (used to) say.  At some post offices, this verity may be  evergreen.

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