Sunday, November 19, 2017

Still Life with Robin: Deja Vu in the Mail

by Peggy Robin

Photo by Iain Laurence
via Creative Commons
It’s déjà vu all over again in the US mail. If you’ve been following the recent spate of complaints about mail delivery in Cleveland Park, you may feel like you are rereading old messages on the Cleveland Park Listserv. That’s because we have been here before – last time around was October 4.

And the time before that, July 7 – 13th.

Then skip back through June and May and take a look at the eight-day run of messages that began on April 19th and lasted through the 26th. The kick-off post on April 19th  was message number 124040, titled “A Postal Story,” a long and painstaking recounting of one mis-delivered package and the mysterious trail of clues that the poster doggedly followed until she discovered what was in the missing package (mailed-ordered medications) and who was lying about it and why. That story of woe triggered a cascade of 23 other such stories, with this or that variation in the delivery error, or in the notification process, or the retrieval process, ending with suggestions from other list members for follow-up. At some point the thread took on the more generic subject line of “Mail delivery problems” and nine more messages were posted. And then on April 23 the subject turned into “A Postal Story + Management Change” – ending with the triumphant announcement that new postal managers had taken over and had met with complaining neighbors, and reform/improvement of service was on the way.

I also went further back into the listserv archives and found these same themes in discussion threads posted in and around on the following dates:

November 29, 2016
January 22, 2016
December 5, 2015
October 1, 2015
July into August, 2015
January 12, 2015
….and then I decided to quit searching.

Among the problems discussed/bemoaned in past threads were:

1. False notification of package delivery attempts (notice slips left when the addressee was at home – but no one ever rang the bell)
2. Days without mail delivery
3. Mail delivery after 8 PM
4. Letters and packages delivered to one address that were clearly marked for a different address
5. Letters, bills, checks, and packages that the addressee was expecting, which never arrived
6. Letters and invitations dropped off at mailboxes that never reached the intended recipients

(I should mention that I have personally experienced ALL of the above, and add that number 4 on this list happens about once a week, on average.)

After each new round of listserv discussion, remedies are proposed, including: filing complaints with the Office of the Postal Inspector, meetings and petitions to elected officials both local and Congressional, meetings with local postal officials, phone calls to some or all of the above.

And just maybe, after one more set of meetings, or calls, or letters, there will finally be some lasting improvement.

But if you would like to make a little money, I would advise you to bet that between now and May 19, 2018 there will be at least one more series of messages complaining about bad mail delivery in zip codes 20008 and/or 20016. Now your only problem will be finding someone to take the other side of that bet!


Still Life with Robin is published on The Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on weekends (usually on Saturdays, but like the US Mail, it’s occasionally delayed!)

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