Monday, April 10, 2006

The Anthropomorphic Mail

If my mail had the ability to speak it probably say to itself, “why is the letter carrier such a lazy ass-wagon?!”

As you may or may not already know, I’ve had some problem with the US Postal Service. Actually, I really only had a problem with one individual. But now my frustration is spreading.

Every once in a while I get a package sent to me that requires a signature upon receipt. On four separate occasions, my mailman has refused to deliver that package. Instead, he simply puts the “delivery attempt” notice in the mailbox, forcing me to have to go down to the Post Office to get my parcel. And my Post Office is no picnic. They have a bet going down there, the one who can move the slowest wins a free trip to the break room for a half-hour smoke break every third customer. And they’re all winners!

Anyway, my mailman refuses to climb the steps to my apartment and deliver my package. I know because I’ve actually watched him do it. That day, I chased him down to his truck and demanded my mail. He gave it to me, but he didn’t do it with pleasure. That was the second-to-the-last time this happened to me. I figured that once he knew that I was on to him, my mail would start getting delivered as promised.


It happened again just the other day. Usually, unless I’m being pummeled relentlessly, I’ll just let things slide without complaint. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t send food back at restaurants. I don’t generally complain to people about bad service. I’ll wait until I get home and then bitch and bitch until everyone around me wants to cut their ears off. But the Post Office is such a horrible place that I had to do something about my mailman.

So, I sent a strongly worded letter to the Postal Service.

That’ll show them. The form letter I got in response was very apologetic. I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, I didn’t want to get my mailman fired or anything, I just wanted my packages to be delivered – and maybe for him to stop breaking my NetFlix DVDs when he crams them into my mailbox.

But I was a little concerned that my mailman, because he had been caught red-handed refusing to do his job, the job he gets paid about $40,000 a year to do, was going to get a harsh punishment (although, to be honest with you, he probably deserves it. He really is a horrible mailman.).

I mean, if the guy that works behind the counter at Wendy’s (and makes about $7.50 an hour, no benefits) takes your cash and decides not to give you your #2 meal (double cheeseburger…yum!) for no good reason, I would suspect that at the very least the manager would make him spend the rest of the week picking urine soaked French fries off the bathroom floors.

But I was being a little too ambitious in my thinking that anything at all was going to happen to my mailman.

I received another automated response a few days later telling me that I was going to be hearing from my local Post Office in hopes of resolving this matter. I started to get a little worried. I don’t mind dealing with the Postal Service en masse, but dealing with my local office wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I knew it.

Turns out that I was right.

The lady from the local office called me on the phone. She asked me about my problem. I told her. Here is a brief transcript of the conversation that followed (from memory):

Me: So…that’s the whole story from beginning to end. It’s an outrage, no?

Post Office Lady: What floor do you live on?

Me: The second.

Post Office Lady: Is there a call box at the bottom of the stairs?

Me: No, it’s an open building, you just come right up.

Post Office Lady: There’s no call box to buzz people in?

Me: No, you just come right up. It’s open.

Post Office Lady: But there’s no call box?

Me: No! It’s an open building.

(Seriously, this went on longer than this, but in the interest of time, I’ll stop this part here.)

Post Office Lady: Well, your letter carrier isn’t required to climb a flight of stairs to deliver your package.

Me: Excuse me?

Post Office Lady: He doesn’t have to walk up stairs. And if you don’t have a box, there’s no way for him to let you know that you have a package. He’s allowed to not deliver to the second floor. It’s at his discretion.

Me: What?! Are you serious?!

Post Office Lady: Oh yeah. In fact, if he wants to steal your mail and sell it on eBay, he can do that too.
(No she didn’t actually say this, but she was smug enough that I half expected her to.)

Me: So, I have to watch out my window and if I see him coming, I’ll just yell down to him and ask if he’s got anything to deliver but is just too lazy to drag his ass up 15 steps? He’s delivered before! Why wouldn't I expect him to do it again?!

Post Office Lady: Maybe he was in a hurry. He might have had a lot of deliveries that day.

A lot of deliveries?! That’s honestly what she said to me. But I have to ask one question here: if you’re not required to actually deliver anything, how do you get swamped with deliveries? “Oh, man, I’ve got a crap-load of mail to not deliver today! Sheesh…Mondays, huh?”

Post Office Lady: You could talk to him. It sort of depends on your rapport.

Seriously, she told me that my service depends on my rapport with the mailman. I’m a bit shocked that she knew the word “rapport” to tell the truth. And screw that! I’m not talking to that mail-crushing asshole.

Then she went on to my other complaint. The smushed NetFlix.

Post Office Lady: You have another complaint about DVDs being broken? Net…net…flicker? (one of the USPS’s biggest clients and she acts like she’s never heard of them)

Me: NetFlix. Yes they were broken.

Post Office Lady: How big is your mailbox?

Me: Um…regulation size. It was approved by the Postal Service.

Post Office Lady: But is it big?

Me: It’s not huge. But the real problem was the junk mail. My DVDs were crammed in with all of the flyers and circulars and junk mail.

Post Office Lady: Oh, junk mail? We’re required to deliver that.

Seriously. That’s an exact quote there.

And that was it. I learned that the Post Office doesn’t have to deliver actual mail…but junk mail? That’s the important stuff.

I fucking hate our government.

Fun Fact: “Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow nor heat of day nor dark of night shall keep this carrier from the swift completion of his appointed rounds.”

But 15 steps up a flight of stairs?

Hell no! Mailmen are not superheroes, people!

Oh, and happy late birthday, Stephen! I won’t mention your age. You’re so old that you probably couldn’t see this small type anyway.

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