I love getting mail.
Real mail, not e(lectronic) mail.
I like electronic mail, but the kind that comes in the mailbox is just better somehow. I like that there are different sized envelopes and pretty stamps. I enjoy looking at the magazines and especially the catalogs from places like the public television station, the art museum, and Levenger’s (the store for serious readers). I used to really love getting letters, and actually had a couple of pen-pals once upon a time, whose epistles I looked forward to with eager anticipation.
What I don’t like about mail is when I get other people’s.
That’s become a real problem around my neighborhood. Lately, I’ve been getting mail that belongs to someone else on average of once or twice a week. Sometimes it’s just one letter – a credit card offer, or a “This is Your Last Chance” to renew a magazine subscription. Occasionally, it’s something important – once I got a priority mail package. Sometimes the mail belongs to my next door neighbor – when that happens, it easy to just run over and hand it to her. Mostly though, it comes from streets farther away in the neighborhood – streets I wouldn’t think would even be on this postal carrier’s route.
So I always put this kind of mail back into the box with a note saying “This was delivered to the wrong address.”
Yesterday, we got 12 pieces of mail that didn’t belong to us. They were for three separate addresses one street over.
“Okay, that’s it,” my husband said. “This has gone too far. I’m calling the post office.”
Good luck with that, I thought to myself. You can never actually speak to a person at the post office.
Amazingly enough, Shirley answered the phone and asked if she could help him.
“I want to report that we’ve been getting frequent mis-delievered mail,” he stated. “Today we got 12 pieces of mail that were addressed to three different addresses. Some of this mail is financial information that looks important.”
“You can just put that back in the mailbox and we’ll redirect it,” Shirley said.
“I don’t want to just put in back in the mailbox. I want to discuss this with someone who can correct the problem.”
“You’ll have to speak to your carrier about that,” Shirley told him.
“Fine, then let me speak to my carrier.”
“He’s gone home for the day.”
“When will he be back?”
“I think he’s off tomorrow. Maybe he’ll be in on Wednesday?”
“Fine. How do I get in touch with him?”
“Call back here about 4:30.”
I looked at my watch. It was 4:00 and he was gone for the day. Hmm.
My husband bundled up all the mail, sat down at his computer, and wrote a note (in all capital letters, which I think constitutes yelling on the computer.) It was firm, but polite. He wrapped it around the wayward mail pieces, and I put it in the mailbox this morning.
I was almost afraid to go to the mailbox this afternoon. There was a stack of mail, gathered together in a rubber band, and wrapped in the yelling note.
But all the mail was ours.
I’m not sure what this means. If the postal carrier read the note and decided he didn’t want to carry around evidence of his mistakes, or if he didn’t even read it and just wrapped OUR mail in it.
Then a rather horrifying and unkind thought occurred to me.
Maybe he can’t read, and that’s why we keep getting mail that doesn’t belong to us.
I suspect we’re going to continue getting mail that isn’t ours. I think the United States Postal Service is going to hell in a handbasket, and it’s probably why everyone is using electronic mail now.
See, the thing I really worry about is that someone else is getting MY mail, and that they aren’t polite enough to put it back in the mailbox for redelivery (with or without a yelling note). Perhaps someone has been sending me really lovely, handwritten letters with pretty stamps, and they’ve been delivered to that awful house down the block where three young guys live – the ones who never take in their garbage cans or shovel their snow.
If I find out that’s happened, I’ll be writing a yelling note of my own.
Not that it would do any good.
Not that I would know where to mail it.