I've always defended the U.S. Post Office. I always thought that they were unfairly maligned. I never really had any problems with mail not being delivered in a prompt fashion. I never understood why people always derided them.
That is, until I moved to my current zip code.
Holy shit, they are incompetent.
Youthlarge and I moved to the new neighborhood in May of 2004.
Our first clue that things weren't so great in this neck of the woods, mailwise, was that we were immediately innundated with mail from the previous tenants. Luckily for them, we are friends with them so we could give them their mail whenever we saw them. They have twice requested to have their mail forwarded but not one piece of mail has ever been forwarded to them. To this day, we still receive 5-10 pieces of mail for them a week.
Then we started finding out that people were mailing us things only to have the Post Office send it back to them stating that no one by that name lived at the address. Nevermind that we still regularly get random pieces of mail with our address that isn't addressed to us or the previous tenants.
In July 2004, Youthlarge and I were married. I was an idiot and forget to have my uncle, the officiant, sign the paperwork. So on the day we were leaving for our honeymoon, I went to the post office to mail him the paperwork. I wanted to send it priority mail with a return priority mail envelope with postage included. All in all, it wasn't cheap.
Happy that this was taken care of, I also asked to have our mail held for the week that we'd be gone.
After a hellish end to the trip, Youthlarge and I finally arrived back in New York to find that most of our mail had been placed on the floor of the lobby because they couldn't quite figure out what it meant to hold our mail. Also, the helpful woman at the post office had mailed my uncle the return envelope but neglected to send him the necessary paperwork. Luckily, my address was on it so she mailed it back to me a few days later with a note stating something to the effect of "I don't know why this was in my stuff but it has your name and address on it so I'm sending it to you." She had no idea that she had fucked up. Oh well, at least she sent it back to me.
So over a year has passed. We continued to get spotty service but for the most part, it hasn't been that bad. We get our magazines on time so that is good.
That is, until very recently.
Four weeks ago, we stopped receiving Time Out New York. Granted, this isn't a great magazine but we've paid for the subscription and it is a good twenty minute read. After two missed issues, Youthlarge e-mailed them and they replied that the Post Office was sending the issues back to them marked to the effect that the magazine couldn't be delivered to the address because we didn't live there anymore.
So last Tuesday, I called the Post Office.
The man who answered put me on hold for over five minutes. I was tortured by the ads they continually played on an endless loop for Click and Ship service at the post office. Who knew that you didn't have to get in line, you could just go online and save? Click and Save! Each message was only twenty seconds long so I had to hear it over and over and over again. Finally, I hung up and called back. The man said, "Didn't I just put you on hold? I answered, "Yes, but I was disconnected."
So I explained the situation. He said to hold on and a minute later (after three more Click and Ship messages) our mail carrier picked up the phone.
Mail Carrier: Hi.
Listmaker: Hi, I was calling to let you know that I wasn't receiving Time Out New York for the past four weeks and I was wondering if you could help me figure it out. I contacted the magazine and they said that the post office is sending the magazine back and I want to figure out why. I have lived at my address for a year and a half and have been receiving the magazine without a problem until four weeks ago. I'm not sure why they put me in touch with you because I need to talk to someone in charge of the sorting of the mail or find out what is in my file or on the computer for my address.
Mail Carrier: Have you called Time?
Listmaker: Yes, I have contacted Time Out New York. They are delivering it but the post office is sending it back.
Mail Carrier: What is your address?
Listmaker: (I tell her.)
Mail Carrier: I don't have a request to forward any mail from that address (other than the previous tenants' request but there is no point of bringing that up) so I don't know. Your name is on the mailbox?
Listmaker: No, I haven't had my mail forwarded. I've lived at this address for a year and a half. And yes, my name is on the mailbox.
Mail Carrier: Well, sometimes it takes awhile to get the magazine when you get a new subscription.
Listmaker: No, I've had no problems for a year and a half until now.
Mail Carrier: Well since you just moved to the address maybe the magazine hasn't caught up with you yet. That happens sometimes.
Listmaker: No, I've lived at this address for a year and a half.
Mail Carrier: I've only been doing your route since October. I don't know. I deliver whatever mail I have to you.
Listmaker: I know, I know. That is why I need to find out why my mail is being sent back before it reaches your bag. You aren't the problem but I need to figure out why my mail isn't getting to me.
Mail Carrier: Have you called Time?
Listmaker: Yes! Listen, do you have any files on my address or anything on the computer?
Mail Carrier: Oh no. No, no, no. We don't have anything like that.
Listmaker: So you can't help me at all?
Mail Carrier: No.
Listmaker: Is there anyone else I can talk to that can help me? Someone who sorts the mail perhaps? There is no one above you who might know?
Mail Carrier: No, sorry.
By now I was quite aggravated and stunned at the incompetence of the whole thing. So I said thank you and ended the call. Two minutes later, I called back and asked to speak to the supervisor. It turns out that the man who had originally answered the phone and heard my original explanation was Edwin the Supervisor.
So I explained the situation again. He told me that he personally would see if he could figure it out the following day - the day that Time Out New York was delivered. I thanked him, but I knew that he wasn't going to do what he said.
On Thursday, I called and asked him what was up. I was impressed that he remembered my address. But that was all he knew. He had no idea why I wasn't getting my magazine. He told me he'd look into it and told me to call him early on Friday morning.
Like the sucker that I am, I did.
Rather than help me, he just put me back in touch with the Hapless Mail Carrier. Thanks for nothing Edwin!
The continually perplexed woman walked me through just how confused she was all over again. It was almost an exact retelling of Tuesday's conversation right down to her referring to the magazine as Time, asking me if I had called them, and thinking that I had just moved to the apartment. She was very apologetic. I kept telling her that it wasn't her fault, that it was someone else who had put a "Do Not Deliver" tag on the magazine. But she had no idea how to figure anything out. Don't they have any clue about anything at this post office? At one point, I told her again that she couldn't really help me and that I needed to speak to Edwin. She said, "Oh, um, he just stepped out for a moment." So Edwin was clearly avoiding me now. He couldn't figure out one simple thing and now he was hiding behind a wall of incompetent underlings.
I thanked her for her time and ended the call.
I came home to find this note in my mail.
She really was taking this whole thing to heart. I immediately called Edwin. The woman put me on hold for over seven minutes (or over twenty Click and Ships) before I hung up. I called back. The same woman replied, "Oh yeah, they just told me that he left twenty minutes ago." I suppose she was just going to leave me on hold forever. Wonderful. Fuck you Edwin! Fuck you 11215 Zip Code!
Fortunately, Youthlarge had called Time Out New York again on Friday. They told her that they had fixed the problem of the "Do Not Deliver" hold on the magazine. So we'll see this week. I still don't understand how they did it. Did they call the post office? Did they bribe Edwin? I just don't know and I don't suspect I ever will.