Your Government Inaction: The Post Office

 

Yes, this week I’m talking about everyone’s favorite advertisement delivery service. Until I moved to Texas, I got my mail from a cheap metal box in front of my house. I moved here and discovered the community mailbox. Instead of stopping at each address, the postal worker puts your mail into a locked box located in a structure on the street. This is certainly a lot more secure and efficient than the individual boxes. Mine is only about 100 feet from my front door, so it’s no big deal to collect the mail:

I’ve been getting my mail from this structure for the last 16 years. It’s pretty sturdy, but I don’t think any maintenance has been done on it since I moved in. The boxes have plastic gaskets around the doors, but sixteen brutal Texas summers have worked their magic. After every rain, I notice that the flyers and credit card come-ons are damp before I toss them. The large boxes on the left side of the structure are for packages. The mailperson locks the package in that box, then puts the key in your mailbox. It’s a pretty simple and effective process, except…. The locks on the package boxes have gotten stiffer and stiffer over the years. Maybe that’s why the key has broken off in the lock of one of them. It’s been like that for more than a year.

I originally got three mailbox keys when I moved in. Over the years, two of the keys have disappeared. I tried to get copies made, but found out it’s illegal to duplicate them. Then, last week, I lost the final key. This necessitated a trip to the Post OfficeIGA.

“Hi, I lost my mailbox key and need a new one.”

“OK, we’ll have to change the lock, that will be a $25 fee.”

“Yea, I figured that would be the case.”

“I need a picture ID and a piece of first-class mail with your name and address on it.”

“I don’t have any mail. I can’t get in the mailbox.”

“How about a rental agreement.”

“I own the house.”

“You don’t have any paperwork?”

“The bank has it.”

“Well, you’ll need one of those things before I can give you a new lock.”

I was somewhat frustrated at this point, thinking that I needed to go back home and dig up either a piece of mail or my mortgage papers. Then I had an idea–I pulled my registration papers out of the glove compartment. They had been mailed and had my name and address on them. It worked! I was then told that it would take up to a week for the new lock to be put in place.

Now I’ll admit that I’m a careless idiot who lost all my keys, but I bet I’m not the only one. I’m sure that other people had needed a new lock and had come in without mail or a rental agreement. I’d also guess that a high percentage of those people had driven there. Was I the first to figure out that you could use your registration?

I thought maybe I should have gone online to the USPSIGA website; then I might have known what to expect. Nope. While the website is on the bleeding edge of internet technology, circa 2000, the requirement for mail or a rental agreement was not mentioned. Neither was the one-week wait to have the lock replaced.

Anyway, the lock was replaced in only three days. I have three brand-new shiny keys which I very carefully put in three different secure places, and which I’ll eventually misplace.

On the same day, I couldn’t find my mailbox key, I also discovered a crack in my car’s windshield. My wife got on the phone while I was driving and made an appointment. We went to the gym, had lunch, then drove to the windshield place. Less than three hours after I first noticed it, the windshield was fixed. I don’t know why I mentioned this; it has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the post.

Published in Humor
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There are 43 comments.

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  1. Vance Richards Member

    JosePluma: On the same day I couldn’t find my mailbox key, I also discovered a crack in my cars windshield. My wife got on the phone while I was driving and made an appointment. We went to the the gym, had lunch, then drove to the windshield place. Less than three hours after I first noticed it, the windshield was fixed. I don’t know why I mentioned this, it has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the post. 

    Well, it is an interesting contrast. You can get an entire new windshield from a private enterprise with less time and effort than it takes to get a government agency to give you a new key.

    • #1
    • September 10, 2019, at 4:49 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    JosePluma: I don’t know why I mentioned this, it has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the post. 

    Methinks this statement might make your nose grow.

    • #2
    • September 10, 2019, at 5:08 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    So what happens when the postal worker accidentally and with no malice aforethought places an item of mail in the wrong box? Your neighbor can’t just put the item in your mailbox. They might walk to your door and hand it to you personally, but they might just leave it in the box. Assuming, of course that the item is of any value other than to the advertiser who sent it third class.

     

    • #3
    • September 10, 2019, at 5:27 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. cdor Member

    Jose, next time you get down to just one key, better get the lock replaced again. It might actually take a week then.

    I live in a very nice, but modest home, in an older neighborhood filled with other modest homes. My house was built in 1934. I have lived in it since 1981. My wife and I have remodeled at least 7 times. It’s just about perfect for the two of us at this point. My mail comes directly to a very substantial and new mailbox I had installed a few years back. It’s right next to my front door, bolted securely to my house. My mail used to be available through a slot. I didn’t even have to go outside. But it was a bit leaky and porous so I sealed it up and covered the slot on the outside with a metal house number plate. On occasion, we visit friends in the new and fancy suburbs. The houses are huge–5 to 6 thousand square feet, at least. Their garages are almost as large as my entire first floor. But guess what. Their mailboxes are DOWN THE STREET! I have to laugh. These people live in such expensive and glorious homes, yet they have to walk down the block to get their mail. Ha! Ha!

    • #4
    • September 10, 2019, at 5:59 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  5. Seawriter Member

    cdor (View Comment):

    My house was built in 1934. I have lived in it since 1981. <<<Snip>>> My mail comes directly to a very substantial and new mailbox I had installed a few years back. It’s right next to my front door, bolted securely to my house. My mail used to be available through a slot. <<<Snip>>> On occasion, we visit friends in the new and fancy suburbs. The houses are huge–5 to 6 thousand square feet, at least. Their garages are almost as large as my entire first floor. But guess what. Their mailboxes are DOWN THE STREET! I have to laugh. These people live in such expensive and glorious homes, yet they have to walk down the block to get their mail. Ha! Ha!

    Having to go down to the end of the block for your mail instead of getting it delivered to your door is called the USPS improving their delivery service. And the chocolate ration has been increased to 2 grams from 4 grams.

    • #5
    • September 10, 2019, at 6:09 AM PDT
    • 19 likes
  6. Front Seat Cat Member

    Jose – maybe take these pictures and complaints from your neighbors about wet mail and rusty locks should be addressed to the local post office and demand replacement. Bureaucracy! And the Dims want to socialize our healthcare….

    • #6
    • September 10, 2019, at 6:10 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. Arahant Member

    cdor (View Comment):
    Their mailboxes are DOWN THE STREET! I have to laugh. These people live in such expensive and glorious homes, yet they have to walk down the block to get their mail. Ha! Ha!

    My mother’s mailbox is about a mile from her home at the entrance to the subdivision.

    • #7
    • September 10, 2019, at 6:17 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Juliana Member

    We gave up on having a mailbox outside our house and have had a PO box for years. The mail doesn’t get stolen, my mailbox doesn’t get smashed by vandals with a baseball bat, and packages are not left for just anyone to pick up. The drive to the post office is about 8 miles, and not exactly on my way to anywhere, but I can get my mail pretty much anytime I want (some post office boxes are available 24 hours) and can leave it there for a week or so if I don’t get down there. I have found that there is little in the mail that needs immediate attention – it’s safe, dry, and they have a recycle bin right there so I only take home what I want.

    • #8
    • September 10, 2019, at 6:36 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. OldDanRhody Member

    On the plus side, you don’t have the mailman walking all over your lawn.

    • #9
    • September 10, 2019, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Arahant Member

    OldDanRhody (View Comment):

    On the plus side, you don’t have the mailman walking all over your lawn.

    Or negligently not closing the door (that sticks a bit) to a security building when said postal employee leaves.

    • #10
    • September 10, 2019, at 7:02 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Aaron Miller Member

    It seems different solutions work best for different people. But you don’t get to choose between mail box or lock box.

    How could those lock boxes be sufficient in the Amazon era? I doubt even in the 1980s only a couple people in a community of hundreds expected a large package.

    • #11
    • September 10, 2019, at 7:20 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Our neighbor is 90. A former Marine and a former racecar driver. He has lived in the house for about 80 years. Walking out to the roadside mailbox is sometimes tough for him, especially in the winter. The USPS truck turns up his driveway and deposits his mail in another mailbox sitting on one of those colorful hardware-store Adirondack chairs right outside his front door. I often hear his booming voice say “Thank you! See you tomorrow!”

    Chivalry and service are not dead at the Post Office.

    • #12
    • September 10, 2019, at 7:52 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  13. Bob Thompson Member

    JosePluma: “I don’t have any mail. I can’t get in the mailbox.” 

    Man, you must really get rid of the junk fast. 16 years and no mail with your name and address yet in your house. Good thing you had a car.

    JosePluma:“I need a picture ID and a piece of first-class mail with your name and address on it.” 

    How is this done for a new resident?

    • #13
    • September 10, 2019, at 8:00 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. DonG Coolidge

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    So what happens when the postal worker accidentally and with no malice aforethought places an item of mail in the wrong box? Your neighbor can’t just put the item in your mailbox. They might walk to your door and hand it to you personally, but they might just leave it in the box. Assuming, of course that the item is of any value other than to the advertiser who sent it third class.

     

    This happens all the time. You can deliver yourself or mark as “mis-pitched” and drop in the outgoing slot.

    Last year, we had a spate of people stealing the entire NBU (neighborhood box unit). When that happens, everyone loses their mail and it takes 8 months to replace. 

    The best thing about the NBU is that mail carriers open the back of the box (one big door) to load. It is possible for things to fit in through the back, that are too big to be removed via the front, because of the frame. Fun!

    • #14
    • September 10, 2019, at 8:37 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. Full Size Tabby Member

    DonG (View Comment):

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    So what happens when the postal worker accidentally and with no malice aforethought places an item of mail in the wrong box? Your neighbor can’t just put the item in your mailbox. They might walk to your door and hand it to you personally, but they might just leave it in the box. Assuming, of course that the item is of any value other than to the advertiser who sent it third class.

     

    This happens all the time. You can deliver yourself or mark as “mis-pitched” and drop in the outgoing slot.

    Last year, we had a spate of people stealing the entire NBU (neighborhood box unit). When that happens, everyone loses their mail and it takes 8 months to replace.

    The best thing about the NBU is that mail carriers open the back of the box (one big door) to load. It is possible for things to fit in through the back, that are too big to be removed via the front, because of the frame. Fun!

    Some of our neighbors have had that happen!

    We live in a still-under-construction subdivision in which the USPS is apparently still trying to decide where to locate the communal mailbox units. One of the communal mailbox units was recently moved around the corner (i.e., to a different street). But no warning was given to the people who used that unit, so the first day they approach its original location and the box is gone! Panic. 

    • #15
    • September 10, 2019, at 9:17 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Full Size Tabby Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    It seems different solutions work best for different people. But you don’t get to choose between mail box or lock box.

    How could those lock boxes be sufficient in the Amazon era? I doubt even in the 1980s only a couple people in a community of hundreds expected a large package.

    If there are more packages than the number of package boxes in our communal box unit, or if there’s a package larger than the size of the package box, our mail carrier drops it at the house. Though USPS seems to deliver only a portion of the packages coming into our neighborhood. UPS, FedEx, and now Amazon delivery itself deliver a considerable portion of the packages, and of course they deliver to the house. 

    Phase I of our subdivision has individual mailboxes at the curb in front of each house. Phase II has the communal box units (we live in Phase II). Apparently Phase I was approved just before communal box units became a USPS requirement for our town. But, there are rumors circulating in the neighborhood that Phase I will have to convert to communal box units in the near future. Which prompts those who have individual mailboxes to wonder what they would do with their current individual mailboxes. This being Texas, the individual mailboxes are encased in brick pillars. like this:

    I had not heard before of any neighborhood that has individual mailboxes having to convert to communal boxes, but I can see the advantage for the USPS. Also, some people with individual boxes have commented that their mail may not get delivered on a particular day if a car is parked in front of the mailbox. 

    • #16
    • September 10, 2019, at 9:34 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Full Size Tabby Member

    JosePluma:

    Anyway, the lock was replaced in only three days. I have three brand-new shiny keys which I very carefully put in three different secure places, and which I’ll eventually misplace.

     

    If it were me, I’d forget where the three different secure places are. I am trusting that Mrs. Tabby remembers where our third key is. The other two are on the key rings with our house keys.

    • #17
    • September 10, 2019, at 9:37 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Tex929rr Coolidge

    We live in a rural neighborhood with cluster mailboxes for 120 homes in a little kiosk at the entrances. They are similar to the OP’s but bigger. The newer standard ones are a lot more durable but you are on your own dime to replace them. Those older ones are easily cracked open with hand tools. We got enough residents to pay for a couple of new units, but way too many people found the $100 too much to pay for more secure mailboxes.

    When some methheads busted some of the old boxes a couple of years ago USPS was absolutely no help at all. Apparently jacking mailboxes is a very common practice for rural drug abusers. We have the (partially) more secure mailboxes and now video cameras covering the boxes 24/7. No break-ins since the cameras went up but we have actually had video evidence for a couple of traffic disputes and some idiot teen drag racers.

    • #18
    • September 10, 2019, at 9:38 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Full Size Tabby Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    If there are more packages than the number of package boxes in our communal box unit, or if there’s a package larger than the size of the package box, our mail carrier drops it at the house. Though USPS seems to deliver only a portion of the packages coming into our neighborhood. UPS, FedEx, and now Amazon delivery itself deliver a considerable portion of the packages, and of course they deliver to the house. 

     

    Somehow the mail carrier at our son and daughter-in-law’s development (6 acre lots, so it’s at least half a mile from their house to the communal mailbox unit) has telephone numbers for many of the residents, and he telephones when he arrives at the communal mailbox unit if there’s a large package, so that if the resident is home, the resident can meet the USPS carrier at the communal mailbox unit. Our daughter-in-law often works from home, so she can meet the carrier. I don’t know what the carrier does there if there’s no one to come meet him.

    • #19
    • September 10, 2019, at 9:41 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    • #20
    • September 10, 2019, at 10:01 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Aaron Miller Member

    I built my own brick mailbox, so it has a wide and deep box. I’d hate a community box. Security is attentive neighbors with guns. 

    A guy I knew rigged his box to a light or ringer in his home for whenever the mailbox was opened. He said it wasn’t just the mailman opening it. But I have never known someone to suffer from mail theft except for stolen packages. 

    • #21
    • September 10, 2019, at 10:37 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. ctlaw Coolidge

    Normally, the lock is your responsibility. Home Depot sells them for $6+.

    A couple of years ago, somebody epoxied my lock.

    I brought my driver set (including an 18″extension) up to the mailbox and waited for the carrier to come. When he opened the back, I inserted a Phillips bit on the end of the extension and removed the screw holding the lock cam to the cylinder. I then opened the door, removed the lock, and replaced it.

     

    • #22
    • September 10, 2019, at 11:26 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. Skyler Coolidge

    My wife bought the house we live in before we got married. I’m told that they made a mistake in the zoning and built it with individual mail boxes. Or so goes the local legend. All the other neighborhoods have the hideous community mail boxes.

    • #23
    • September 10, 2019, at 2:19 PM PDT
    • Like
  24. Front Seat Cat Member

    OldDanRhody (View Comment):

    On the plus side, you don’t have the mailman walking all over your lawn.

    Mailman is now considered a sexist statement…… Mail person please (by the way, all the people that deliver our mail are female and they drive – no mail bags or dogs)

    • #24
    • September 10, 2019, at 2:26 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Cow Girl Thatcher

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    When some methheads busted some of the old boxes a couple of years ago USPS was absolutely no help at all.

    Considering what most of my mail consists of, I wonder what these idiots thought they could find of value in someone’s mailbox? Can you pawn knick-knack magazines or random offers to change your insurance?

    • #25
    • September 10, 2019, at 2:57 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    When some methheads busted some of the old boxes a couple of years ago USPS was absolutely no help at all.

    Considering what most of my mail consists of, I wonder what these idiots thought they could find of value in someone’s mailbox? Can you pawn knick-knack magazines or random offers to change your insurance?

    As near as we could tell, the only thing they did was attempt to cash one of those checks that comes in credit card statements and were denied. They hit mail boxes in a dozen places one night and got a handful of parcels from places with traditional rural mailboxes. Most people around here with those boxes have rented PO boxes for the security. 

    Idiots is the correct and accurate term.

    • #26
    • September 10, 2019, at 3:23 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. OldDanRhody Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    OldDanRhody (View Comment):

    On the plus side, you don’t have the mailman walking all over your lawn.

    Mailman is now considered a sexist statement…… Mail person please (by the way, all the people that deliver our mail are female and they drive – no mail bags or dogs)

    Nevertheless, they stay off the lawn – unlike those dang kids!

    • #27
    • September 10, 2019, at 3:57 PM PDT
    • Like
  28. Seawriter Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Mailman is now considered a sexist statement…… Mail person please (by the way, all the people that deliver our mail are female and they drive – no mail bags or dogs)

    I thought mail bags was what you called women mail men.

    • #28
    • September 10, 2019, at 4:29 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Skyler Coolidge

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Mailman is now considered a sexist statement

    I don’t care. 

    • #29
    • September 10, 2019, at 4:50 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  30. Songwriter Member

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    So what happens when the postal worker accidentally and with no malice aforethought places an item of mail in the wrong box? Your neighbor can’t just put the item in your mailbox. They might walk to your door and hand it to you personally, but they might just leave it in the box. Assuming, of course that the item is of any value other than to the advertiser who sent it third class.

     

    That happens way too often in our neighborhood. We moved here a year ago (McGregor, TX) and I’ve met several neighbors via the personal mail exchange. 

    • #30
    • September 10, 2019, at 4:58 PM PDT
    • 1 like
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