Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Mail Must Go Through - New Lyrics

When I was a kid, I had a portable tape player (that one!) and a Disney tape that I loved more than anything. My dad built us a kick-ass play set and I used to swing all day while singing every word to every song on the front and the back of that tape. One of the songs was called, "The Mail Must Go Through."

When you mail a letter, you can send it anywhere.
On foot, by truck, or aeroplane, the postman gets it there.
So write a letter to your friend, maybe she'll write you.
No matter what you always know, the mail must go through.
Well, the mail must go through.
The mail must go through.
No matter if it rains or snows, the mail must go through.
I said the mail must go through.
The mail must go through.
No matter if it rains or snows, the mail must go through.
Some folks live in a city, some live in a little town.
And even if you live out on a farm, there's a postman making his rounds.
So mail someone a letter, even just a card will do.
You know it's nice when the postman has a letter in his sack for you. 

I started this post and remembered that song, which makes me sad that I am writing this post. The Post Office has betrayed me.

I'll begin at the beginning: The Wedding Invitations. We put a whole lot of time and a ridiculous amount of effort into our wedding invitations. For several weeks, we worked harder and longer than FoxConn employees on those things. Since we went to all the trouble, I obsessed a little more. I read that you should send yourself a "test" before you drop the entire load of envelopes off at the Post Office. The person at our PO branch told us that since there was a ribbon with a knot inside the envelope, that it would be non-machinable and require extra postage. We paid it, mailed it, and it came to us (from the Post Office one street away) mangled anyway. We modified, re-tested, paid the extra postage again, same story (though not as mangled). I took the envelopes back to the Post Office and asked for advice. The infuriating truth: It's a judgment call. Writing Non-Machinable and affixing extra postage to an envelope which has been deemed non-machinable by USPS guidelines means nothing. There are multiple sorters along the way that a person may or may not decide to run your mail through. Apparently we have lazy and/or illiterate postal workers in this country. No surprise there. The only way to prevent this from happening, I was told, is to put each invitation into a bubble mailer.

Road-Rage Postman. Driving home from one of my fateful trips to the post office during the wedding invitation ordeal, I was almost killed by a mail truck. I'm not being overly-dramatic in the least. A mail truck is totally big enough to crush my Jetta and kill me. He believed that it was his turn, not mine, at the four-way stop. He floored it, narrowly missing (this part I'm really not exaggerating about) T-boning my car. Going postal is no longer precluded by not having a gun. The ironic thing is, if he had hit me, it would have been covered by the USPS, which is paid for by...ME. There should be jail time served for playing chicken in a federal vehicle.

Square Envelopes. These are actually smaller than some envelopes, and yet, they "require" extra postage. Why bother? A small square thing fits through the sorter juuust fine I bet. EDIT: Apparently they don't fit! We apologize, USPS. Now I know how to prevent the invitation scenario should I ever need to send out more mass-mailings in fru-fru fashion.

Baby Announcement. Chris's good friend since childhood (Ryan) recently had a baby, and his creative and thoughtful wife (who actually did the baby-having) made up magnets as birth announcements. Not surprisingly, we were one of the few who didn't get the magnet part of the announcement. We got a hand-written note in an unsealed, wrinkled up envelope. I checked the envelope for a picture or something else with all the official stats that baby announcements come with (birthday, weight, etc.) but didn't find anything. "What an odd baby announcement," I thought, and then later found out what had happened. Poor Alicia ordered new ones and sent them out. They're very cute, and now have adorable little Anjali on our fridge! Post Office, I hope you're happy about making a new mom go through all that crap.

The final most recent blow. Today Chris brought me a piece of mail that epitomizes the USPS's modus operandi. It was actually half of a piece of mail inside a tidy plastic bag that reads, "WE CARE" and goes on to explain and apologize away the half-eaten envelope inside the plastic bag.


My thoughts:
  • The entire apology is written in plural first-person, yet signed, Your Postmaster. Is my postmaster the Queen of England?
  • If it's a Federal offense to read someone else's mail, how about destroying it?! A-hole (unless you are the Queen, in which case, well, why are you working with these idiots!?). 
  • Someone took the time to make sure this half-eaten envelope got safely to my door. They destroyed it, then gingerly placed it into a plastic bag. That's just stupid.
  • A plastic bag?? What about a sticker or a stamp? I thought these guys were broke. Stop charging me extra postage to destroy my mail and then throw it in my face with a stupid waste of plastic (a petroleum-based waste, might I add). 
  • Do they do this for every piece of eaten mail? No, they obviously do not. Why this one? Why a piece of junk mail that I didn't care about? Is it, o Post Office, because you don't care about the other mail you ate? Obvs. Salt in the wound at this point.

When you mail a letter, you can send it anywhere.
Just cross your little fingers that it actually makes it there.
So write a letter to your friend, maybe she'll write you.
Before you think she didn't reply, remember it may not go through.
Well, the mail might not go through.
The mail might not go through.
Even if it's gorgeous out, the mail might not go through.
I said the mail might not go through.
The mail might not go through.
Even if ... you paid extra, the mail might not go through.
Some folks live in a city, some live in a little town.
And even if you live out on a farm, there's a postman making his rounds.
So mail someone a letter, even just a card will do.
And consider yourself lucky when your mail actually gets to you!

3 comments:

  1. Totally agree with most of what you wrote. Two things:

    I've seen the mail sorting machines, and the square envelopes actually do not fit through the sorter, as least without mangling them. It's hand sorted. In fact, I've never got a 5x5 square envelope in the mail that is beat up. Why? Because they are truly hand-sorted. Maybe I've just gotten lucky though.

    Also, I still think it's amazing that you can pay 40 cents to have someone deliver a letter across the country. That may be a little naive, considering the quantity of mail going through that same process, but I still think it's cool.

    I really think the root of the problem is in the people. People that work for UPS or FedEx genuinely care. Whether it be because they like their job or just are afraid of getting fired if they make too many mistakes, who knows, but at least there is (or should) be a sense of ownership.

    Working for the government is completely different. It's like they feel it's their right to be able to get away with more because they have a union job and nothing will happen to them, because no one wants to go through the process of filing complaints and paperwork until finally that person gets canned. Our regular mail carrier is the biggest jerk I've ever met in my life. He doesn't talk to me even if I try to be friendly and screams at me when a car (from someone who's visiting) is blocking the mailbox. I've filed a complaint, but almost feel that if I do more, he'll find out and purposefully not deliver the mail. A lot of employees at he post office are just indifferent to what their customers want.

    Now how do you solve this? Who knows. USPS has been having problems financially and making changes for the past 10 years, but I don't think anything is going to change until their working structure and customer experience flows get severely overhauled.

    It's frustrating, to say the least!

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  2. Good to know about the square envelopes. We should have made our wedding invites square! Our postman also refuses to talk to me, which I find strange. I thought he was deaf for a while but eventually I've figured out that he just doesn't like talking to people. Weird!

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  3. Oh and, I won't let FedEx or USPS go blameless here. They've destroyed some packages before, but they don't make me as mad b/c I have a choice about who I use, so if they piss me off I can use another carrier. I watched the UPS guy use the box containing a replacement glass refrigerator shelf as a support when walking up our first big step. I was pretty appalled. I think the difference there is the system. There's a lot more accountability built in to other carriers, so they're more careful (except that guy!).

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