Recently, I went through a sort of antiquated hellish inferno that no man my age should have to: a depressing ordeal with the United States Postal Service. Needing something letter-sized shipped within a limited time duration, my only option was the swift boys in periwinkle. This is a new option for me, living in the “digital” age and e-mailing everything possible, so I was looking forward to seeing the process through. But did they rise to the challenge? To ruin the ending, no. But it’s how they didn’t rise to the challenge that has me screaming.
On September 1, 2006, I paid four dollars for so-called “priority mail” to insure that a package of mine would be sent to a friend in “2-3” days (per the well-polished manual in the lobby). Since Labor Day weekend was around the bend, I made sure at the desk. “Oh, there’s no way it won’t get there by Tuesday,” the deceptively-kind old lady said. It was going to leave Champaign, Illinois and go a whopping 135 miles to Chicago. I needed it there by the morning of the 7th, so I thought I was golden, but no, Mr. Postman had a trick up your sleeve that gives new meaning to the words “bad service.” On the seventh, said friend called to inform me that needed package was not present, asking repeatedly if I actually sent it. I was mad that I was not only out time and money, but also that they were making me look bad. All of these are very un-American, and therefore make me sad. Of course, Mr. Postman, you could have sent it on the 8th and we all would have had an ironic laugh, or maybe the 9th or the 10th. But no, you chose to make a man lose all faith in your system.
Mr. Postman, you’re the son of the devil, because I’ll be damned if that package – sent by priority mail, mind you – didn’t show up returned to me on September 19, 2006 like a bad penny or an ugly boomerang from hell. Did you catch that date? September 19, 2006. That’s two and a half weeks that a piece of “priority” mail (destined to go 135 miles on a standard route, mind you) spent in your system. If it was actually a “priority,” don’t you think it should have gotten SOMEWHERE (even back to me would be fine) as soon as possible? If it’s supposed to take 2-3 days to get wherever it’s going, don’t you think you should turn it around and send it with haste back to me? Maybe within a week or two, at the very latest?
Eighteen days, ladies and gentlemen, for a package going from Champaign, Il. to Chicago. I’d hate to think what would happen if I were in Seattle trying to ship something to Maine. It’s not like there’s a giant forest that you have to penetrate and battle through around Peotone. To my knowledge, the suburb of Matteson isn’t a grand Valley of Peril that must be crossed with knightly valor and skill. There’s no wild gang of vicious bears in Livingston county. Maybe in that 135 miles you have to stop in Kankakee to rest the camels or something.
Now, I can read the label just fine that says “UNDELIVERABLE – RECIPIENT UNKNOWN / NO FORWARDING ADDRESS.” That would be cool with me if I was sending this to an old friend who I’d lost touch with, but for God’s sakes, I was talking to the “unknown recipient” while I was writing the address out. After getting the mail back to me, I asked again to make sure I hadn’t messed up, and sure enough, their address does, in fact, exist. This is sort of like the time my mom sent something to herself as proof of address and it came back undeliverable, stating that the recipient was unknown. Seriously, though, who sends something priority mail to an address they’re not positive about?
And here’s another question for you, why the hell is my mail going through Springfield, Illinois, as it says on the postage? For the geography buffs out there, Springfield is southwest of Champaign. Chicago is north of Champaign. Southwest is not the way to go north. Champaign is a metro area of tens of thousands with a major university and respectable industry. Are you telling me, Mr. Postman, that you route all non-Champaign mail through Springfield? That’s nuts! Complete, bureaucratic, insane waste. You have a serviceable airport and an interstate that goes straight to the main postal hub in Chicago. In fact, that interstate in conveniently right next to the mail center where I dropped this package. Why not try going in the right direction?
One time, I remember having a conversation with my local postman while living in Chicago. His shirt was untucked, his hat was on backwards, and he had beady eyes and an awful, scraggly beard that looked as if he was using his razor blades for another purpose. He had lost the keys to his truck. “This is fantastic,” I thought, “how does he keep the mail straight?” Now I know the answer; they don’t.
Am I mad-as-hell-and-can’t-take-it-anymore because I lost my precious time, effort, and money? Sure, but this is also a fundamentally bad organization that’s slowly destroying America. Mass-mailed spam letters from AOL, banks, and credit card companies, catalogs you never requested, coupons and advertisements for things you don’t care about all routinely get delivered to your address right on time. But a simple package that you actually want to receive? No, they take their time with that one while ripping you off. Considering that I’ve only mailed one letter in the last two years, I’m going to jump with both feet first and declare this a pandemic that must be stopped. They are getting in the way of our nation’s economic growth and happiness. Despite their name, they’re not with us; they’re against us. Heck, with the power of e-mail and the rise of other shipping companies, they have less work to do, but somehow intrude on our lives even more by taking almost three weeks to return a piece of “priority” mail.
Forget the USPS; they’re un-American. There was once a day and age when the Post Office was necessary, but that age passed a long time ago, probably while there were still letters from the old age waiting to be delivered. Every day we keep giving the postal service funds to keep our property for three weeks when it’s only going 135 miles (seriously, what if it was fresh produce?) is a day that the mean, nasty, scary terrorists of the world win. It frustrates our people and our business, not to mention the fact that Iran has a slow mail service, and do we want to be like Iran? No, I didn’t think so. Call your congressmen today and demand that we stop supporting this organization, and if they don’t listen, go to your post office and yell. If that doesn’t work, start mailing things with illegible handwriting and improper zip codes.
If I were Stephen Colbert, “Mailfraud” would totally be the word. Definition? What the USPS does on a daily basis. Please, Mr. Postman, ride off into the sunset, back to that golden time I see in John Ford movies where people are happy when they get “priority” mail after three weeks. Go back to that time when your employees could actually read a map. Barring that, go back to the days when your employees were like that guy on Mr. Rogers; he was sort-of cool in a possible-child-molester sort-of way.
Oh, and I want my four bucks back. Unpatriotic jerks.