We’ve been offline for a couple of weeks, during which we experienced a lot of what all of you have- the cellphone outage. out-of-town visitors, more visitors, family reunions, and gaining five pounds from all the eating out. We’ll catch up little by little but I wanted to tell you first about a lesson learned re: the US Postal Service. This lesson may save you some grief.
I have a 3 BR/2 BA house and for several years I have rented out the extra bedroom and bath. On the same day that we had visitors from New Jersey, one tenant moved out and another moved in. Meanwhile my friend from LA , with whom I was planning a road trip to British Columbia, also showed up and realized he’d left his passport in LA. He got a friend to fetch his passport and mail it to my place using certified mail. I use a PO box for 90% of my mail so I didn’t notice we weren’t getting any mail in the mailbox.
After a few days his passport hadn’t shown up so he accosted the mail carrier, who told him that he hadn’t delivered any mail to us for a few days because the house was vacant. Vacant! Never mind the cars in the driveway and parked in front! Never mind the well-tended and watered planter box next to the mail box! Never mind that there were three adults and a dog living here the week this happened! Never mind that the house has not been vacant for even a day since I bought it in 1993! He thought the house was vacant.
Why? Because he saw the forwarding order from the tenant who moved out and concluded that the house was empty. He apologized profusely for his error but by that time the passport had been sent to some kind of postal clearing house in Sacramento. We called the post office on Clark and they advised us to wait a few days. We did and nothing happened. To make a long story short, we went down there twice and enlisted the help of a supervisor named Eley, The passport finally showed up this past Saturday, after being lost in the bowels of the USPS for almost three weeks. The stress on both of us was extreme.
The USPS is like any other organization- only as strong as its weakest link. Every supervisor we talked to at the USPS said the carrier “needed to be talked to”. How ’bout he should be retrained?? The lesson learned is that certified mail, which costs $3 and change, is useless. If you have something valuable to send, send it REGISTERED which costs $12 but at least they can locate it. Registered mail is signed for at each stage of its journey, much tighter tracking. I notice that Fed Ex has a small package option for $8. I suspect that when Fed Ex loses something, they find it pretty quickly. Again, they have a signature for each transfer.
Next time, Fed Ex for sure. And folks, don’t bother with certified. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on. If you have any stories about lost mail and the USPS we’d love to hear them.