Playing Post Office

The recent oil boom  took a toll on our regional mail service. The Postal Service lost workers to the oil field and had trouble finding replacements. Mail in the rural areas often wasn’t  even delivered on a regular basis. I remember having mail delivered on Sunday, or late at night. Our mail carrier wore a head mounted flashlight like spelunkers wear so he could see.

Things are still a little shaky at the Post Office even with the oil field bust and more people applying for postal jobs.  A friend of mine recently overheard a veteran postal worker railing about the incompetence and poor work ethic of the newer postal service workers. We have had our mail delivered to the wrong address or had the wrong mail delivered to our address.  It used to be that if our mail was addressed slightly inaccurately, say 10th Ave NW instead of 10th Ave W,  they used to deliver it to us anyway.   Now it gets sent back to Fargo where it languishes for a couple of weeks until it is returned to sender.

I can only hope things will improve.  Until then we and our neighbors will continue to bring wrongly delivered mail to the correct addresses and assume the mail will just take longer to get to its destinations.

How is your mail service? Got any good Postal Service stories?

 

 

41 thoughts on “Playing Post Office”

  1. I recently sent a letter to Sherrilee. Several days later, the letter was returned because it had a bad address. The address was right, according to information on my computer, so I sent Sherrilee an email. She replied, correcting the address I had on record. All my data was correct, only I’d transposed two numbers of her street address.

    That surprised me. The ZIP code was right. Partly because of her distinctive name, I would have expected the letter get to her because everything was almost right. I made an error, but I wonder if the letter was returned in part because of the staffing issue Renee wrote about.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 6 Year’s ago we moved across the hall. Our apt number changed from 102 to 101. It can still cause problems. Junk mail sometimes comes to 102, although it was amazing how quickly they picked our new number out of the postal database. Some friends who only send Xmas cards simply don’t change it in their records. Our mail is at the end of a very long route. They have cut jobs here and made all the routes longer. Our carrier also does the mall. So some of the carriers (they also switch carriers around a lot) write testy note so our mail but deliver it any way. I love when they do it on junk mail. “Please inform the sender of your CORRECT address.” And we get a lot of junk mail, often 8or more pieces a day. The worst is that some mail and it is important mail gets rejected by their computers and sent back saying we have moved without a forwarding address. The credit card company loved that message. The post office person who handles such things said I would need to Bring in the mail we were not getting for her to sort it out. I thought she was kidding.
    Ignore any typing correcting errors. Very dry eyes this morning. Close to blind.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good story #1. For thirteen years I went to the PO downtown twice a day. In that time the number and variety of immigrants increased a lot. Immigrants need the P.O. a lot and it is often tricky to deal with thei r issue es and they have poor English. Two people were taken off the desk because they got impatient. 8 hours of that can be exhausting. In the end one man became the specialist. They would shuffle al. The immigrants to him. They got to know each other. He became familiar with the issues for various countries. He had a good ear and could hear what they were trying to say. And he was a sweet man, very patient and calm. He often looked very tired by 4 but remained sweet and calm.
    Good story #2. In 13 years downtown we gained and lost the same mailman because we moved our office twice and because they would reassign routes. He was a character. Always happy. Had a joke or a song every day. Never let regulations “stay him from his route.” We became friends. He rescued. Greyhounds. So after walking his route all day, he went home and walked up to 6 frskly dogs. They got a new post master who had an enforcer who tried to catch carriers breaking rules. Rules said a carrier always had to carry his bag when he was out of his car, as a protection from dogs is the reason. This was the number one thing the enforcer went after despite the fact the rule had been ignored for years. Trouble with dogs was rare in Mankato. But he delivered downtown to offices, buildings and apartments. The bag was useless for carrying mail and dogs were not loose in downtown. He kept getting cited until he gave in and carried this empty interfering bag. He made up songs about it to sing to a few of his clients. Quite the man.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I can’t really think of any stories of my own. I have the occasional wrong street come to my house. A few weeks ago, two big fat glossy magazines (not anything that I would subscribe to) came to me at my address on Lyndale although it said the same number on Garfield which is a street over. I took them over and left them in their mailbox. I have a friend who moved into a new apartment building in Madison they were one of the first units occupied. And then about two months after they moved in and sent off all the notices to their friends the apartment building changed all the numbers for some reason so now instead of being in 204 they were in 209 and she had to put up the sign up down at the mailboxes to remind the postman. It often doesn’t work though.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Good story #3. On the north shore our address changed 4 times and we never moved. Long story, not all of which ever was told to me. Three times hwy dept ordered us to move our mail box, once back to where it had first been. Another long story, having to do with how dangerous is that road. It ended up in front of a house two houses over. House in between had no mailbox. It was a contract route. Three carriers who alternated were wonderful, free of most of the regulations. Two lived on the route. They would bring packages up to our hous, against the rules for rural routes. Sandy would leave them treats. They loved and commented on the wide range of junk mail we got, another long story. Of course commenting on our mail was against the rules.one women settled on the job for about three years. She also drove school bus. We were gettin a lot of certified mail relating to an inheritance and related issues in sandy’s Russian family. That year I supervised bus loading after school. So she would bring the certified mail with her on the bus and call me over to sign for it. Lots of other similar srys of things happened. Small town neighbors making things personal and simple.
    Off to my daughters today while they do the second coat of paint in our hallways.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. the post office i use for work is a little office in a town of 500. it got a bunch of po boxes as you come in then another door to a 10x10room with 2 counter spots i am known as the hat guy because i send hats to exotic places regularly i have a warehouse full of heaters right now and am shipping them out as they sell on amazon. 10 or so a day. the little post office doesn’t appreciate my bringing multiple car loads of heaters for them to deal with their place is so small it make a huge dent in their moving around space. it’s a challenge getting good workers there too they seems to need two they now have one a guy who worked there before got let go but i suspect the postmaster quit and his worker with him so now they have mary who is new in postal terms but has seniority over others and the new guy who has returned to act as a friendly soul behind the counter small town ain’t always romantic sometimes it’s just subpar from nice folks

    tim jones

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Long time desk clerk in TH was famous for being rude. Locals were used to it and laughed him off, often to his face. But he was very efficient and helpful despite that. Tourists probably went home and told tales about small town charm.
      PS killing time waiting for Sandy to get ready. ERly mornings are hard on her. But I have to escape the paint. SpeKing of kindness. Our building maintenance man is driving me to the MRI on Wednesday at 3 which is end of his shift. But he will come back and pick us up after 5 or so.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. My son Nathan Birkholz has had his life entwined with the life of Nathan Birkholz for 30 years, starting at the U. The other NB is from Mankato. They have both lived in San Jose but not at the same time. They are friends on Facebook to sort out confusions that still occur. For a year they lived on south Minneapolis one block apart with almost identical numbers. Oh, the confusion that called.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Last story then I will pack. Little pain today as you can guess. Long time carrier in TH was Gust. He was very snoopy. You would see him walking down the street reading post cards, which were prevalent in the 40s 50s and 60s. When people would sent back post cards from vacation to people on his route which covered much of the residential area, they would add a hello to Gust. It never faxed him when they did.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I was SO looking forward to losing a lot of junk mail once we moved – only gave our forwarding address to those we wanted mail from. Nope, now they all get forwarded. Shouldn’t that be illegal if you haven’t given your permission for forwarding? If I had known I would have talked to someone beforehand.

    The only mail stories I can think of are similar to several above – will keep thinking.

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    1. You filed the change with the P.O. they entered it in their database. The mailer service picked it out of the database sometimes before you have moved.

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  10. Around here the mail carrier parks at the end of the block and walks down one side of the street and back on the other side to deliver mail. Many years ago, we had a mail carrier who didn’t have the energy to do this so he would drive to each house, hop out, go up to the mail box (often on the porch), deliver the mail, then drive to the next house and repeat. The only thing was he didn’t think it was worth his energy to deliver just one or two pieces of mail so he would skip the houses that didn’t have much mail that day. He didn’t deliver mail to our house more than twice a week. In those days, I paid utility bills by mail instead of autopay (as I do now) and it was extremely annoying to have my outgoing mail ready to be picked up and then watch him drive by our house without stopping.

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  11. Hi–

    Like Clyde, we’ve been given new address without moving.
    Course years ago we were RR1.
    Then we became 3940 Viola Rd. About 20 years ago, both us and our neighbors were sent letters saying we were “a problem within the overall addressing scheme.” Our neighbor still has that letter hanging in their pantry and I’m not sure she’s forgiven the post office.
    Became 1750 40th Ave and lost a lot of mail for the next year or two.

    Neighbors get a lot of mail, packages, magazines… they’ve been on vacation and we were picking up their mail. Our mail would be 2 pieces of junk, they’d get a box full complete with a package. And they always said they didn’t know why they got so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We live equidistant from the two nearest post offices. One is on Eva Street on the West Side, i.e. in Ramsey County, the other is in the Signal Hills shopping mall in West St. Paul, i.e. Dakota County, and the two couldn’t be more different.

    The one on Eva Street is tiny, has only two windows. It’s rarely busy, and the people who work there are a laid back, but knowledgeable and helpful, bunch. The one in Signal Hills has four windows, of which usually only one is open no matter how busy they are, and often a long line of waiting customers. Clearly these two offices are run by very different people. The one on Eva Street for the longest time had a rather dirty rubber chicken lying on the counter; it was there to offer frustrated customers the opportunity to release some stress. When they had a change of managers a few years ago, the chicken disappeared. They may still have it somewhere in the back.

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    1. I guess I’m not seeing how a dirty rubber chicken relieves stress. Humor? Flogging the postal workers with it? Flogging other customers with it? Whatever floats your boat, I guess. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a squeaky toy sort of thing, but rather big; it took some effort to make it squeak. Judging from how dirty it usually was, it got plenty of handling.

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  13. The other day we got a letter from a Billings, MT construction company addressed to Fisher Sand and Gravel, a big company here vying to build 45’s border wall. Our addresses are very different and we are in different parts of town. No idea how it ended up in our mail box.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Since Husband and I have different last names, we get duplicate junk mail. I admit to being too busy to do something about it . It means we always get mail, and on days we don’t I wonder if rhe mail carrier just didn’t feel like delivering the mail.

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  15. Years back our mailboxes on the north shore came in the order 32a, 31, 32, 31b, 31a, 31c. It gave us many chances to go talk to neighbors to straighten it out. That is what caused our first change of address.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I just saw a framed photograph of a beautiful old stone building on a corner in Old Downtown Winona, and was told it was the former post office, torn down (no easy task, I hear) lo these many years ago. I remember in my childhood how I loved going in the old post office in, then, Storm Lake, IA. The old downtown Mpls P O is, to me, another beautiful building, and there is still an old one in Wayzata that I think is charming. I imagine they aren’t very efficient, compared to the new modern ones, but I do miss the charm.

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  17. My hometown had about 500 people during my growing up years. There was a post office on Main Street. All the locals had a box and would pick up their mail daily. My dad and his brother drove the two rural routes – dad had east of town (with clay roads) and his brother had west of town (with sandy roads). They delivered stellar service for over thirty years – even during the worst winter weather, they made sure everyone on their route received their mail. Dad got pulled out of ditches by the local farmers on their tractors on many wintry occasions. Both of them were revered by their customers. At the Christmas holidays, dad was given lots of candy (home made and boxed). There was so much mail to sort at the holidays and in January (tax forms), dad was pretty grumpy at home. But he was always very professional with his customers. Our family didn’t have a post office box since dad would bring our mail home. My friends though it was pretty funny that they could put just my name and zip code on an envelope and I would get the letter. Businesses, however, wanted a PO box number so we just made one up.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Name and city, state would get mail to people in our town unless they were new, until about 1953. People were offended that whole addresses had to be used.

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  18. Good story:
    When I was working for MPR in the Holiday Center Mall in downtown Duluth, I was the first person in line to receive the mail from the letter carriers. They were always friendly and sometimes chatty, but we never exchanged names. One day one of them came in with a package from Norway with my name but a very strange address. The postman said they had had no idea where to deliver it and was about to send it back when he thought maybe it was for me…just taking a chance, just in case. How could I ever thank him enough?

    Liked by 3 people

  19. They will soon sell off themankato PO, which was also a federal courthouse. But they have not made a move on a new downtown office. It has not been mail sorting place for years. I worry what will happen to the people who live down there and are very dependent on that PO. USPS expresses very little interest in issue of service, only costs. They auctioned off the old PO in Fairmont a few years ago. Then when it closed they told the postal employees they could take what they wanted. When the buyer walked in the building was stripped. Then he was in trouble because did not preserve the historical character.

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  20. The former post office in my old hometown, Hudson, is now a restaurant called the Postmark Grille. I’ve been there a number of times. It’s quite good.

    Vincent Wyckoff is a Minneapolis mail carrier who wrote a book called Beware of Cat: And Other Encounters of a Letter Carrier, a collection of vignettes about the everyday occurrences on his route. Many stories there, and your local library may have a copy.

    In my neighborhood, on Colorado Street, the houses as you go east from my house are 55, 51, and 53 West Colorado. The story is that the family that used to live at 51 moved to the house at 53, and didn’t want to go to the bother of changing their address on all their various accounts, so they simply swapped the numbers on the two houses. They’ve been out of proper order ever since.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah, house numbering… We once lived in an upstairs apartment – 105 1/2 West Grant, which is not uncommon when a single family house was converted into two residences. Joel lived in a house in Robbinsdale on 42 1/2 Street, which I think you don’t find every day.

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