Monday, November 8, 2021

The Post Office

 I stood in line waiting my turn. The elderly man behind me was using a walker, and got it tangled up in the rug. The woman behind him got the rug straightened out. I said, "Why don't you go ahead?  I've just got an aggravation that will be quick enough to sort out." 

"No," he said, "I'm fine, I'll wait my turn," and so we got into a discussion about how beautiful the weather was today (both of us in our shirt sleeves), and how we haven't got many days like this left before winter, and why was I irritated anyway...the sort of stuff you talk about while waiting in line. 

So I showed him the Halloween card I'd sent to my grandson. It was going from one end of town to another, but I mailed it because kids like mail. It went to the other end of town by way of Pittsburgh, which is about 3 hours away, and then it came back to my little town. It was labeled with a bright yellow sticker that said, No Such Address - Return to sender.

Which is how it came back to me on the 8th of November. 

When I saw it on the kitchen table, I was a little surprised, but automatically assumed that I'd done some stupid thing, but the address was correct. The city was correct. The zip code was correct. I sent a quick text to my daughter to make sure his Amazon package got there safely. It had. 

So I went headed for the post office, where I was standing in line and chatting to a very nice man. Turns out his wife is from Perth, Scotland, and he had a funny story about how his wife has sent her sister a letter, but neglected to put the country on it. The letter returned to them with a bunch of stickers. It was noted that this wasn't a valid American address, and to "try Australia". It went to Australia and traveled around a bit before being returned to sender. 

My letter didn't travel around the world, so I guess I'm lucky for that. 

When it was my turn at the window, I said, pointing to my mask, "I know you cannot see it, but this is my irked face," and I explained the situation. She examined the address and agreed that it was valid. She pulled the sticker off, apologized, and said it would be there tomorrow. 

I took my irked face out the door where I realized that I'd forgotten to put money in the meter in my haste to get inside before the windows closed. I did not get a ticket, but I saw the meter man down the street. 

I drove away feeling like a lucky woman. 


  1. I wonder if the wife's letter went to Perth in New York State too. That would be annoying when your letter was correctly addressed.

  2. A letter I sent to my aunt and uncle here in another town in PA, came back marked the same way as yours. They’ve lived in that house for at least 30 years. My cousin said it’s been an ongoing problem in their local post office( Fayetteville, PA).
    And a Christmas card I sent to my granddaughter last year was returned to me THREE TIMES. I had it properly addressed with the country(ENGLAND) in large letters. And the correct stamp. I finally decided some idiot was sendin it to MY ADDRESS. So I covered it with a Sharpie marker and they STILL returned it to me...I , too, had a sharp word at the post truly boggles the mind. The new hires must be all idiots...
    A puzzle my cousin sent me from another town in our state( about 3 hours away) ended up in NORTH Carolina and took three weeks to get here( he tracked it). He’d paid for TWO DAY priority mail!

  3. This made me smile because many years ago we had a similar experience with a letter which came back eventually having travelled to Australia. That just had 'Try Australia' printed across the front too.

  4. I though our postal service was pretty bad. It seems like it's a world wide thing. Are they lazy? Untrained? It does boggle the mind. My favourite is when you watch the postie put the card in the letter box saying they tried to deliver but no one was home.

  5. "The Meter Man"...sounds like a horror story by Stephen King. Choosing to be a meter man or a meter maid, it's like choosing to be a leper. "Unclean! Unclean!" as they ring their hand bells. Like gravediggers, I guess somebody's got to do it.

  6. SparklingMerlot: Imagine how shocked I was to be pulling into my driveway and actually watch the postman walk by my house, looking at the mailbox and continuing on without picking up my outgoing mail. Turns out they don't have to pick up outgoing mail if they don't have a delivery.

  7. I had a good happening with the post office. Ending up in hospital with a fractured ankle, a friend had sent me a get well card with the words 'I think she is in the orthopaedic dept in this hospital, it found me.
    Is it laziness on the part of the sorter of mail, to take an easy route out?

  8. This has reminded me of something that happened here several years ago. We had a well known comedy actor, called Norman Wisdom, who had retired to our island. One year a friend accidentally posted his Christmas card instead of delivering it by hand. All she had written on the front of the envelope was Norman. It arrived at his house the next day.
    Fhe benefit of life on a small island!

  9. Lucky escape. I had the same feeling of reprieve when I got delayed and overstayed a two-hour parking space by a extra two hours.
    Perth Scotland - to pronounce it like they do there you have to say 'e' like a lengthened form of 'e' in 'west' and also roll the 'r' slightly.

  10. Well, then if the postal people had actually taken the time to pronounce it properly, then it would have gotten where it was going. ;)

    It is not laziness. It's actually the decision that's been in the books for 100 years. They don't have to collect outgoing mail if there's nothing to be delivered. It had never been an issue before because our mailman had simply done it for years.

    They do have a lot of new people, and everyone is dealing with understaffing at the moment, so I try to be patient, but on my way to the post office, I met the mail man at his truck one street over. I stopped to address the issue with him. I handed him the envelope and said, "I've got a problem," and explained it. Much to my surprise, he couldn't understand the issue. He asked, "So where do you live?" While pointing to the two addresses on the envelope. I said, "I am the sender. The envelope came back to me." He said, "I don't understand the problem. You have to tell me where you live." I pointed to the return address. Then he said, "Okay. So what is the problem exactly."

    I said, "Let me just take this to the post office."

    The woman there was nothing but pleasant, understood the problem immediately, and apologized.

    The thing that I hate about the post office down town is that when you mail things, it always takes much longer for them to get to their destination than if I go to a small post office and drop it in the box there.

    But I didn't get a parking ticket which was good. The cup holder always has change in it for just such occasions. I was trying to hurry because there were so many cars at the post office, I was afraid of lines. I tend to be way more single minded than is actually helpful.

  11. I wonder if it will come back again.

  12. It was good to get an apology from the lady at the post office. We all make mistakes at some point but an apology always helps!

  13. I'm usually pretty forgiving of the postal service because it seems like a steal to be able to mail a letter anywhere in the country for the price of a first class stamp when you consider livable wages, how many times it is handled and all the fossil fuels involved in getting it from point A to B. But I would be a bit irked too. I remember once waiting on a package with a part for a project and instead just got a sticker saying I wasn't at home and I needed to sign something. I was home the entire day and the footage showed that the driver just came up with a sticker (no package) and put the sticker on the door without ringing the doorbell. That really got my hackles up.

  14. A woman I worked with once had a mailman refuse to deliver her mail - as she hadn't changed her surname when she got married. Because mail is so scarce she didn't notice until her daughter's school asked why she hadn't paid fees for a few terms. Said mailman is no longer a mailman.

  15. Wouldn't you love to know how these things happen?! The mails are a mystery.

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  17. Yay, Debby! You certainly had a lucky day!
    I’m happy to hear you had a pleasant conversation in line. That’s something that often happens in Hawaii and didn’t happen as much in Illinois. Here in Hawaii, we end up talking to anyone.

    Fingers crossed your letter gets there quickly this time. There was one time my flat rate box to Maryland went to Malawi or some other M country. It didn’t get to my son for a whole month and it DID look like it had been around the world.


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