Monday, June 1, 2009

And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night....

According to Wikipedia, in 2001 the USPS created a television commercial edited to Carly Simon's song, "Let the River Run." The commercial, which ran after the September 11, 2001, attacks and the anthrax mailings, featured no voiceover, only the following text interspersed on title cards:

We are mothers and fathers.
And sons and daughters.
Who every day go about our lives with duty, honor and

And neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of
night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the
swift completion of our appointed rounds.


This is really an inspiring goal, and I think that the USPS should definitely continue in their pursuit of this wonderful charge. Mail is so important - even today, with all the internet communication we have. Human touch, pen to paper, mail in the mailbox - it is a wonderful thing. But I must say, though that may be the unofficial creed of the USPS, here on Our Street we seem to have a few challenges.

This is my favorite mailbox - although as you can see, it is a bit unused.

The front porch mailbox

My mail story begins when our neighborhood street was first built, about 9 years ago. Our little street was the last 10 city lots in our neighborhood to be built. All the other homes had been built in the late 1930's, 40's, and 50's and had lovely mailboxes on their porches. The post men and women walked the neighborhood and had relationships with the home owners. I loved this idea and was really looking forward to having a friendly relationship with my mail carriers. We found a lovely mail box for the front porch and purchased it early in the building process.

Our house was one of the first three houses on the street to be built and we moved in while everything else was still under construction. Much to our surprise, we NEVER got ANY MAIL. After about five long weeks we were sure something must have gone wrong with our forwarding address, and we contacted the post office to see exactly what was up. We learned two interesting things. Thing One - they were holding our mail at the post office. (Nice of them to let us know, huh???) Thing Two - they required a mail box on a post on the street to deliver our mail.


Apparently two things served to support this postal service decision. First, apparently there is a rule (law?) that any new homes in our city/township are required to have street side mail boxes - unless the entire neighborhood has porch mail boxes. And Second, in addition to all the lovely older houses in our neighborhood, there was an apartment complex in our mail district (the first apartment complex ever to be built in our city, as a matter of fact. Red brick, big steps, pillared entries, lots of sidewalks, very nice - although getting older for sure). The apartment complex mail was delivered to a central location for each building (still requiring a walking mail carrier, but centralized nonetheless). As a result of this centralized delivery, the new houses on our street were covered by the rule for street side / curb side mailboxes.

We were crushed. Angry. Distressed that our neighborhood vision - of the mail carrier being close, someone we could have a relationship with rather than a car or truck driving by, someone maybe even integral to our lives - was gone. We called our representatives. Engaged the city council. Refused to pick up our mail at the post office. Waged war on the USPS.

How well do you think that worked out for us?

Aren't they lovely? They really add to the neighborhood ambiance.

Over the next four years or so, the tenants in the apartment complex started to turn over, and some risky characters moved in. We weren't happy about the new character of the neighborhood in some cases, but we reveled in the diversity and had big hopes that someone would restore the complex to its former glory.

Then, last year, the apartment complex was purchased by a developer. The old oak trees were all cut down, everyone was moved out, and the old buildings were completely razed in anticipation of new homes. At that point, the post office took action. They reassigned mail carriers for many of the neighborhood routes, and decided that our little street would be given to whichever carrier had spare cycles on any given day. We learned about this because our mail delivery became irregular and we started missing expected packages. Upon inquiry, we learned that we were a street bereft of a regular mail carrier until the new houses were built.

But wait - there's more. About three months after the bulldozers came, the economy collapsed.

Now we have a 32 acre in city unmaintained dog walk, as Mr. Bryant says.

The developer does come and periodically cut down the weeds, I must admit.

And it is a FINE location for a family game of Frisbee!
But not, apparently for regular mail carriers.

This only becomes a problem when mail doesn't arrive - and sometimes we don't know about it, so there you go. But recently I was looking for a card from my friend Nilla. Nilla is a wonderful and creative card maker, blogger, and scrapbooker, and I have admired her work for some time. I was really excited about getting a stamp from Malaysia - not to mention an original card from Nilla! But it never came. Never came. And never came.

I checked with the post office - no news. I waited and waited. No news. Nilla and I corresponded on the Internet - still no news of the card. And then, in May (my quiet month), our neighbors down the way came by with a card for me. They said that it had been delivered to their house in error - and SURPRISE, it was my wonderful card from Nilla!

I love the work that she did on the card, and even cherish my envelope and stamp - I plan to use it in a work of art soon.

So thank you Nilla! And thank you neighbors! And thank you USPS, for continuing to work on your goals! And thank you universe for finally letting the card find its way to my door! And dear universe, by the way - you can keep all the bills you like. :)

1 comment:

Nilla said...

Dear o Dear what a mess. I am glad my card and stamp finally arrived at your doorstep in whatever manner, postman, neighbour... I guess the good old days are in the past! Hugs your friend Nilla


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