Tag Archives: mail forwarding

A Positive Word about the U.S. Postal Service

Okay, The Curmudgeon saw you roll your eyes when you read that title. Sit back, get a tall glass of whatever it is you like a tall glass of, and please continue reading with an open mind.

People like to complain about the U.S. Postal Service (which The Curmudgeon will heretofore refer to as “the post office” because that’s what people usually call it). Yes, the post office has problems – major, major financial problems, some of its own doing, some most decidedly not. Most of the post office’s current financial problems were caused by Congress and Congress could undo them with a figurative snap of its fingers – which, you realize, Congress will never do, first because 535 pandering members don’t want to do anything that could get them on the wrong side of constituents who like to complain about the post office and second because a vote confirming that an hour consists of sixty minutes would probably draw at least 100 dissenters in that dysfunctional body.

To be sure, the post office lacks a service ethic, as best illustrated by its hours of operation. Entities that want your business operate at hours convenient for their customers. Entities that don’t feel they need to compete for your business, or think you have no alternative to using them and expect you to conform to their own convenience, don’t. Doctors don’t have office hours at times most convenient for their patients; they have office hours at times most convenient for themselves. The same is generally true, with some exceptions, for lawyers, plumbers, electricians, banks, government offices, and many others. If there’s one major aspect of post office operations with which The Curmudgeon would quibble it’s the hours of operation at its public facilities: they are incredibly inconvenient for working people.

Somebody should do something about that.

On the other hand, The Curmudgeon has always marveled at the idea that you can slap a first class stamp on an envelope, throw it into a mailbox, and the envelope will arrive at its destination frightfully soon: the next day if the destination is relatively close and seldom more than three or four days if the destination is even across the country. Complain if you will about the rising cost of first-class postage, but The Curmudgeon has always found it amazing that he could toss a piece of paper into an envelope addressed to his father in southern California on a Monday morning, stick it in a mailbox before work, and receive a call from his father that Wednesday or Thursday or Friday at the latest to talk about whatever was in that envelope. Even at today’s forty-nine whole cents, it’s quite a bargain when you think about it.

The Curmudgeon also would like to take a paragraph to sing the praises of his own letter-carrier, Arlene. The Curmudgeon wears an off-the-rack knee brace while he works at home, so when he’s wearing shorts in the warm weather months, it’s there for all the world to see. Well, three years ago, Arlene started delivering The Curmudgeon’s mail directly to his door, as opposed to the free-standing, multiple mailbox units that can be found in most condo developments and increasingly, in many newer housing developments as well. He had two theories about the personal service: first, that she was sweet on him; or second, that she was buttering him up for a more generous Christmas tip. One day he pulled up in his car as Arlene was delivering the mail and she said to him, “I see you’re better.” “What?” The Curmudgeon asked. “Your leg – it looked like you had a cast on it a few weeks ago, so that’s why I was delivering the mail directly to your place.” Case closed. (Arlene’s a sweetheart: The Curmudgeon had an elderly neighbor who was clearly in failing health and she delivered the mail to his door for more than two years, until he passed away.)

The post office has also greatly improved how it deals with forwarding mail. Nearly eleven years ago, when The Curmudgeon moved to his current home, he carefully submitted change of address information to every company he wanted to follow him across the river, and for the following six months, those he didn’t honor with this information continued to follow him, their offerings always adorned with a yellow label that screamed “post office forwarding service.” After six months the labels stopped, the old junk mail disappeared – to be replaced, alas, with new junk mail – and life went on.

When his father passed away, The Curmudgeon arranged for all of his mail to be forwarded to his own house so he could be sure to take care of any financial affairs that might need attention. Now, as the one-year anniversary of dad’s arrives tomorrow, the yellow forwarding labels have disappeared, as he always knew they would.

But the mail addressed to his father has not.

junk-mail-300x225In fact, it now comes addressed to dad at his “new” address: THE CURMUDGEON’S!

That’s right. In its new efficiency, and in a manner that The Curmudgeon doesn’t understand, the post office has informed all of those purveyors of junk mail of their customer’s new address and they now think that dad’s a) still alive, and b) now living with his eldest son.

But he’s not. (Unless you count the box in The Curmudgeon’s closet with dad’s cremated remains.)

And now, on a typical day, The Curmudgeon receives more mail addressed to his late father than he does addressed to himself.

Dad made small contributions to Jewish causes and those causes obviously sell one another their mailing lists, so now The Curmudgeon’s mailbox is filled with solicitations from Jewish causes.

It may surprise visitors to this site to learn that The Curmudgeon’s father was a political conservative – something he came to relatively late in life – so The Curmudgeon now receives appeals from all sorts of right-wing whacko groups (as distinguished from normal right-wing groups).

Dad had long subscribed to a variety of health information newsletters, never quite grasping that the information for which he had long paid had now become readily available, without charge, on the internet. The newsletters continued to arrive, along with appeals from newsletters to which he didn’t subscribe.

Dad didn’t make purchases through the internet. He would see something he wanted on the internet – usually basic men’s clothing and gizmos because he was a sucker for non-electronic gizmos – and write to or call the companies to get their catalogues. He’d then order their stuff and, seeing they had a customer, the companies would keep sending him their catalogues. As a result, The Curmudgeon now receives numerous catalogues every week.

Haband men’s clothing? The Curmudgeon would ordinarily wisecrack here about how that’s stuff for old men, but then, dad did live to eighty-one.

And charities – oh, the charities. And if a charity is writing to you, you know what it’s enclosing: address labels!

Envelopes and envelopes full of address labels!

Interestingly, when The Curmudgeon moved from one Philadelphia address to another back in 1990 he barely received any charitable appeals with address labels, but when he moved from Philadelphia to a tonier New Jersey suburb in 2003 he received a lot of them.

The obvious conclusion of the charities: Philadelphians are all poor.

But now The Curmudgeon has so many address labels with his father’s name on them but his own address that if dad were to rise from the dead tomorrow and live at this address for another eighty-one years he still would never, ever run out of address labels. The Curmudgeon knows this to be true because he’s resided at this address himself now for nearly eleven years and hasn’t even put a serious dent in his own supply of charity-provided address labels – and that’s after he’s tossed every envelope full of address labels that he’s received for the last five or six years.

But this isn’t about the labels. It’s about the post office.

Say what you will about the post office, but while you’ve heard people complain about it, you’ve probably never personally experienced one of those “lost in the mail” problems; the things you send through the mail always reach their intended destination. The service may not be friendly or convenient, but it’s good.

And that junk mail is never, ever going to stop following you.