Last week was a great week for personal mail. Each day my mailbox revealed a new treasure, including an oversized post card from Sandra, two beautiful Mother’s Day cards (Happy belated Mother’s Day, everyone!) with handwritten notes from our daughters – thank you, ladies, for those amazing messages! – two additional personal notes from Nancy and Jane, and an article about social calling cards from Joan. Postmarks on the letters included Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, New York, Honolulu, Hawaii, and my home city, San Francisco. How much better can things get than receiving six letters and cards from friends and family, all in the same week, each mailed and received in a timely fashion?

Well, in fact, things did not get better. They got worse.

It all started with a trip to our nearest San Francisco post office in early January, where I mailed three large boxes to our daughter in Brooklyn. Around that time, due to snow, ice and generally inclement weather throughout the country, many flights were delayed or cancelled, but since there was no urgency to these packages, I didn’t think much about it until a month or so later, when none had yet been delivered.

By March, two of the boxes finally reached their destination, but the third one was still missing in action. We checked the tracking number and it seemed that this particular box was still sitting in a substation in Richmond, California, just across the Bay. I urged my daughter to call again to inquire about the status.

Last week, on May 9, the package was returned to me. The mailing label was intact, so at first I was puzzled. Why was it coming back to me five months after I mailed it?  Upon opening the box, however, things became clearer. There was only one item inside the box, a kitchen pot, damaged beyond repair. Whatever else had been in the package was gone.

A form letter was enclosed. “Dear Postal Customer,” it read. “The enclosed material was discovered loose in the mail and has apparently become separated from its packaging.” The letter goes on to say that “if you feel that the entire contents of your package has not been recovered, you may request a parcel search by contacting the Atlanta Mail Recovery Center.” The unsigned sender of the form letter, sent from the New Jersey Network Distribution Center, went on to extend a “heartfelt apology,”

Somehow, it didn’t sound particularly useful, to have folks in Atlanta search for items that went missing somewhere between Richmond, CA and New Jersey. Because, you see, I had not made an itemized list of the contents of each package, nor had I insured the materials. I am unable, therefore, nearly half a year later, to remember what else was in this particular box.

Not that I believe the contents could still be found, nor that they would be in useable  condition.

But still. Mea culpa.


Due to a glitch of incompetence on the part of this editor, my most recent post was accidentally deleted and disappeared into the ether. The above post first appeared in Social Correspondence in May 2014. Current cost saving changes to the USPS have not made things better – slower delivery of mail and packages has become the new normal.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu
Verified by ExactMetrics