Mail Tale: Case of the Missing Results

I’m PO’d. Once again I’ve been Post Officed. Three times, actually. It does seem unfair to pick on the U.S. Postal Service when our Postmaster General Megan Brennan has given us our first rate reduction in, well, forever.

Those Forever stamps you bought for 49 cents are now worth 47 cents, because that is now the price to send a first class letter. Maybe it’s because so few people are sending letters, what with email and online banking. I have friends who adore their local carriers. The post office has even set up a campaign to reward carriers who get rave reviews for their service, putting a new friendlier face on public institution whose sorry service has been associated with rage, or “going postal.”

When the Inwood/Lover’s Lane post office was closed due to budget cuts, my ZIP code was assigned to a station miles and miles away, in a commercial, non-residential area. It takes me 30 minutes to get there. And there’s a nice station just five minutes away. That’s where I went when I’d had enough.

It wasn’t the usual wrong mail or missing invitation somebody says they mailed that you never receive that got me. I expect that. Or that I watch a carrier deliver my next door neighbor’s regular mail everyday at 1:30 p.m., then cross the street and head in another direction. Then whoever delivers my mail (anybody’s guess) shows up after 6 p.m.

I am literally the last house in the area to get my mail, which is a day old by then. I often don’t discover my mail until the next morning on my way to get the paper. Since it’s mostly cruise ship catalogs or junk, I grouse but let it go. (Never mind that I can order something on Amazon in the morning and have it at my door by 5.) Still I wouldn’t go to a supervisor for this.

Here’s what got me to do just that. My doctor’s office called to find out if I had moved because my (fortunately good) mammogram results had been returned to them with “Addressee Unknown. No forwarding address.” However, when I put a letter out to be picked up and saw it was gone, only to have it back in my box three days later, I was ticked.

I had a gummed address label on the back of the unposted envelope. Maybe the guy got confused? So I dropped the item, which contained a check for a reservation, in the blue mailbox by the YMCA where I work out.

Another three days and it was back in my mailbox with some black lines at the bottom but the stamp had not been canceled again. A week had gone by with time-sensitive material, and I could not get it mailed — no reason given.

Items in hand, I strode to the supervisor of the nearby station and asked for an explanation. Stupefied, he said it should not have happened in either case.

He implicated my stationmaster, and he gave me her name and a phone number that actually worked. He took the one unfranked envelope and said he would have his own carrier deliver it.

My stationmaster, Mary Hill, felt no responsibility at all. Mary Hill will not be getting rave reviews. Something must have been wrong with the envelope that was returned, she said – never mind what the other supervisor had said.

As for my test results getting the offending “yellow addressee unknown” sticker, that must have happened in Denton at the clearinghouse, although she could not say why. Why my mail now comes so late is because that’s the route. Who decides the route? Mary Hill. And she’s not changing it.

That was the same attitude that lit up my blog this winter when several blocks had no mail for a couple of days, and her response was “short-handed due to the flu.” The U.S. Postal Service website screams that it’s hiring for positions with paid training, paid vacations (30 days a year), federal benefits (a lot), and minimum wages of $20 an hour ­— which is $51,000 a year. You must be a citizen or at least have a green card. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. How about sense? For those people carrying a load, I’m good with that. But for the Mary Hill-type supervisors?

She must be related to the supervisor I asked ten years ago about the price of postage for my daughter’s wedding invitations, with their weight and size and the new rate hike. As I handed her one, she gave it back and said she had no idea. ??? “It’s a foreign country.” Arguably, she was right. The calligrapher had written out, Washington, District of Columbia. I told her evenly it was not going to Bogotá, but to a residence where our government resided. She shrugged. I’d just been Post Officed.

Len Bourland

The views expressed by columnist Len Bourland are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of People Newspapers. Email Len at [email protected]

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