Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Going Postal

Saturday I mailed a package to my daughter. I bought a delivery confirmation receipt which would allow me to track it online. Last night, I learned that it had been delivered at 6:24 p.m. in a neighboring postal area, the zip code of which is one digit different from my daughter's.

I spent about an hour trying to communicate with a post office recording which offered no helpful options, but all roads led to Rome: The package had been delivered. Never mind that it was delivered to the wrong recipient in the wrong town. I got increasingly agitated and finally ended up telling the machine that I hoped it would do something to itself until it hurt. My husband raised an eyebrow but knew enough to stay off the battlefield. The recording, undaunted, told me that the office was not open at that hour. It sounded smug.

This morning, I called the post office which ostensibly delivered the package. The clerk said that no duplicate address to my daughter's existed in that zip code. I said I doubted that the occupant would have the same name in any case. He told me to call the post office branch where it was supposed to go. They were unimpressed with the gravity of the matter so I called my local post office, where I had mailed it. They said they couldn't do anything because it was out of their hands; the logic was indisputable.

I made all the rounds again, this time asking to speak to a supervisor. After I went through the entire saga for the third supervisor, she asked me if it had been delivered to my daughter.

Well, no, Dummy. That's why I'm calling. I didn't say that, though. I sucked it up and told her politely that it had not because I know all about honey and vinegar, even though diplomacy does not come naturally to me.

She suggested I call the delivery supervisor at the post office which routes mail to the other two zip codes, so I did. The gentleman told me to call back at 9:30 tomorrow morning because all the carriers were out. He didn't ask my daughter's name or address, which was not a good sign, so I stewed awhile and called back. This time I got someone who assured me that it couldn't have been delivered last night at 6:24 because they don't deliver mail at that hour. He also said that there was no way to find my package because they have no record of it.

I think my daughter would have liked it. It was beautifully wrapped. I have no idea who is enjoying her gift, which she was not expecting ~ we love surprises in my family ~ but I am sure that my blood pressure took a big hit over this.

It is frustrating that nobody will take responsibility. Instead, they all passed me around like a beach ball.

I fail to understand why there is so little competence anymore. Perhaps it's because there is so little caring. Life is hard for most people. They want to put in their hours, get paid and get out. The pride in craftsmanship that I was raised to revere is dead as a doornail, and we are all poorer for it.

I am by nature a gentle person, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I'm fantasizing, just a little, about letter bombs.


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

MY sympathies entirely. I bitterly am familiar with getting the run-around. As I read the post, some devious thoughts entered my mind but then I see that you already beat me to the punch with your final para. I hope this won't get picked up by big brother.

Big brother, if you are eavesdropping, let me remind you that San Francisco is home to peace loving flower people and squirrels are pests but not a danger to national security!

the walking man said...

Mail a nice letter to the address that received your daughters package. It will get delivered to your daughter and at the least she will know you were thinking of her.

Thirty odd years ago I worked a few months for the Bulk Mail Center in Oakland and was pretty chagrined to find out that the APWU has a no lay off clause in their contract with the postal service. I doubt that has changed.

My dog has a toy, a stuffed rooster that crows when she bangs it on the floor.

Send something like that, something that just randomly will make noise whenever it is handled. Of course some nabob in the post office will open it (because they can) and with the toy leave a note telling them just exactly what you think of them...not that, that would be a hard note to write.

nick said...

My sympathies. An utterly frustrating and infuriating situation in which as you say nobody takes responsibility. I suppose the address it was delivered to is too far away for you to go over and claim it back? Clearly the mail service is not going to claim it back and doesn't want to know. It looks like you'll just have to fume and send a duplicate.

I shouldn't bother with the letter bomb. It'll probably be delivered to the wrong address. A Mr George W Bush, maybe.

Cecilieaux said...

You must live in the same parallel universe I do.

The telephone company never gets the bill right, then insists they should charge me for fixing the problem.

Makers of any electronic device that does not function as promised seem to think I have radioactive emissions that makes them all break down inexplicably upon first use.

Several delivery companies insist to my staff that the address where our office is doesn't exist.

I so wish I really did exist. In the real universe. Where things work. I mean, there is one, right?

The Fool said...

Sorry Heart, but you're one letter off...according to the post office "All roads lead to Nome." Good luck on getting this straightened out.

meno said...

And aren't you glad that you purchased a delivery confirmation? It just sort of adds insult to injury.

thailandchani said...

I'm not sure when busy work became more important than efficiency. Maybe they make all these mistakes because they think it's job security.


Wanderlust Scarlett said...

This has all the makings of a good Elvis tune, you know.

Hearts, that's awful, I hope that this gets straightened out soon.

I have high hopes that it's a special good kind of karma, wherein you call your daughter and tell her what happened, she drives to the other address, meets fantastic people who become life long friends and gets her package.

Maybe it will work out like that, life is a funny thing.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

And by the way... this one is definitely worth the two minutes it will take you to read it.

It's a lil' story from The People's Republic of Boulder.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Warty Mammal said...

GRRRRR! This sounds like a major stress-inducer.

I'm not even sure what one's next course of action could be, given that you've worked through "proper" channels. Maybe a consumer-affair column at a newspaper?

LittlePea said...

Craftsmanship. Why does that word make me laugh out loud right now? Maybe because the word alone is a joke in our "walmart world."

Molly said...

I've been working on a quilting project all day. Just snuck in here for a quick read, even though I have to have my project finished before morning.......I started thinking. What if I packed this beautiful little quilt [craftsman-or woman-ship is not dead!] up in pretty packaging and mailed it to someone I love? And what happened to your package happened to mine? I'd definitely be thinking the same mutinous, murderous thoughts you are.

Maybe you could drive over there...?or SOMEthing? I just hope this gets sorted out and your daughter gets that lovely package!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Even peace-loving flower people have their limits.

Did your devious thoughts include dropping nuts on postal workers' heads, or perhaps the work product of eating said nuts?


The problem is that nobody knows what address it was delivered to. At least, they're not telling me. And do they care? NO!!!

Please send me all the stuffed roosters you can find. STAT.


Yes, I'm too far away to reclaim it even if I knew where it was. That's why I mailed it. As for the fuming, don't worry... I've got that covered.


Funny we've never run into each other in this parallel universe. You would think we might have after so many years.

The whole dance reminds me of a game of salugi, popular in New York's Little Italy, in which an object is passed over the head of the person who is "it," back and forth, until somebody dies, basically.

No Fool,

Ohhh, NOME. That explains everything. And that's probably where my parcel is, or at least in Juneau.


You're so right. Of course, without it, I would never have known the precise degree of ineptitude involved.

I wish I had bought insurance, but silly me. I trusted the USPS.


Maybe so, but if enough angry customers choose UPS next time, it won't help their jobs in the long run.


"Don't Be Cruel" might work. Or maybe "Fools Rush In." "Heartbreak Hotel?"

Maybe you could sell that story to one of the soap operas, except that the other address is a mystery since even the post office doesn't know where they delivered it.


I'm stymied. Since we're not in the same city, a consumer affair channel probably wouldn't help anything. But who knows, maybe it will be brought back by the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.

Sweet Pea,

What, you don't think plastic doodads from China qualify as craftsmanship? You're right - it IS a Walmart world, and originality, charm and attention to detail have all pretty much disappeared.


I had the exact same thought. What if this were an irreplaceable object like a handmade quilt? Thankfully, it isn't. This time. If it were, I think I would have to get on a plane to make sure it got there safely.

The CEO said...

I appreciate the situation as the same thing happened to me when I bought something on Ebay. It was mailed to me, and it entered my local post office, and was mis-delivered. Because it cost lss than $100 ($95), the vendor completed his end, and Pay Pal said he should be paid, and so did Visa. The Post Office said they couldn't find it and didn't have the manpower to check anywhere. I was out the $95 and there was nothing I could do about it. I don't buy from Ebay anymore because of the Post Office.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I've had my troupbe with them, too! Once, the day before Valentine's Day I got a delivery slip with my grandmother's zip code, and instructions to come to the post office to pick up my package. My grandmother used to send me a box of chocolates every V. Day. When I got there with my slip they denied all knowledge of the package! Even faced with the slip, they shrugged. Nope, no package for you. I was livid. I know those freakers opened it and ate my candy.

seventh sister said...

I have had it with the post office. I am using a commercial carrier when I need to mail packages from now on. I mailed some before Christmas with plenty of time for them to arrive at their destinations. The woman at the post office made sure to inform me that if the intended recipients did not go to the post office to collect the boxes, I would be charged t for the return postage to get them back to me. She was quite rude. I had already stood in line and was giving her my money. It cost me as much as last year when I used UPS. I had the thought that if UPS or Fedex lost my packages, I would at least be able to call their customer service desk and most likely get some help. No so with the post office.

meggie said...

GRRRRR. Surely the whole point of having a numbered package, is so it can be traced!

budh.aaah said...

There, there now dont go to the other extreme. I mean 'letter bomb' hahaa..but yes I empathise with you, and it must have been very frustrating for you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That's a sad tale, and it's also unfortunate that the person who got your item by mistake didn't return it to the Post Office.


It doesn't get any lower than eating someone else's chocolate, to say nothing of illegal. Plus Grandma would be really pissed if she knew.


I used to have FedEx on a little pedestal in my mind until the day they left a large package right on the sidewalk outside my building. The SIDEWALK. And UPS takes forever. That's why I started using the Post Office.

There is never an excuse for rudeness, and they are supposed to deliver packages to the address unless no one is home.

Our mail carriers are arbitrary. I suspect that we only get mail when they have nothing better to do.


That's what I said, but apparently it doesn't work that way.


Don't worry. I have no idea how to make one, even if I were so inclined. (And I'm pretty sure it's not Right Action.)

Thank you for your visit!

Ian Lidster said...

Indulge your fantasies -- no, maybe better not. I like you and don't want to think of you doing hard time.
I imagine it is the same in the US as in Canada regarding postal workers. It's the perfect calling for a slacker. The pay's great and their is virtually no responsibility. Moderate literacy and numberacy are benefits but not essential.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


The home delivery crews seem not to read English very well, either. We constantly get mail addressed to various other people who are not even on our street, which makes me very nervous about the fate of our own mail.

I often have images of it drowning in the bay, or other people cashing checks intended for us.

But hard time should definitely be avoided, so my little fantasy life will remain just that.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


I can't believe you didn't say it!

"Return to Sender!"



Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Jocelyn said...

Your post tags here are hilarious.

And although you say you're not naturally diplomatic, I'd disagree. You may not feel diplomatic inside, but you translate your feelings into something that might be effective.

Were you not dealing with the postal service.

I predict the package will get to your daughter eventually. All the lame asses work for USPS; the good people are the neighbors who track down a package's rightful ending point.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Oh, nay, I beg to differ. Atomic bombs are effective, too. (If not dealing with the postal service, of course.)

But let's keep a good thought on the present finding its rightful owner.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I don't know how I missed your comment. 20 lashes with a wet noodle for me.

"Return to Sender" would have been a good name for this post. If I had thought of it. But I didn't. :(

On a limb with Claudia said...

I have so been there. I'm amazed at how the Postal Service has become the postal disservice. We've had tremendous trouble receiving mail - especially bees. Our precious queens died of thirst because they were held up for inspection (There's not ag inspection on bees in Colorado!)


Did I tell you about the 82pound, $78 package that took 5 months to get to Wisconsin from Colorado? Only arrived after it was reported by our complaint officer to the 'missing package' department.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


So sorry about your queen bees. That's criminal.

The Colorado-Wisconsin package must have gone by stage couch by way of the Himalayas where passes close for months in the winter.