I can’t get my mail because my postman isn’t an ambi-turner. No, really. It’s true. He can’t turn left. At least not at my mailbox.
We moved into our new home in August. After two weeks of receiving our mail, our postman left a note in our mail box to call the post office. After discussions with the post master, Ms. F., we were informed that they would not deliver our mail because our mailbox was not located in a “safe” area and they cannot guarantee delivery in a “rural” area.
We live in “rural” mountains in California. The description of rural for our neighborhood is questionable in itself because we’re located on the corner of two major roads with a speed limit of 40 mph and only 10 minutes away from a major highway. It’s true that there are many twisty turning roads in the mountains that are difficult to drive. People often locate their mailboxes away from their home and onto one of these more heavily traveled roads in order to receive mail in the mountains. Our mailbox is on one of those heavily traveled roads, with hundreds of mailboxes that span the entire 10 miles of it.
Our phone conversation went like this:
Me: “Ms. F., why won't you deliver my mail?”
Ms. F. : “ Your road is unsafe for us.”
Me: “But we met county requirements to locate our driveway and mailbox in a location that was compliant for traffic safety for a non-blind driveway. The county and fire Marshall have agreed that my driveway is indeed safe.”
MF: “It is not safe for us. YOU decided to move to a RURAL area. We can’t guarantee delivery to a RURAL mailbox. You must move your mailbox to (XYZ road or ABC road).”
Me: “But the first road is quarter mile away and I cannot ensure my mail will be safe there. The other road is not my address. And the community there does not want my ugly black lockable mailbox near their nicely designed community mailbox area. If he is uncomfortable with our very wide turn around, there is another safe turn around area about 100 feet above my driveway. Can the postman drive there to make his turn around?”
MF: “That would cost us $100/year. We are making cut backs and cannot afford to spend the $100 per year for gas.”
Wow. $100? That much? Something told me this was going nowhere, so I ended the conversation. Since then, I was forced to open up a mail box 12 miles away downtown, and drive daily to check it, wasting fossil fuel and leaving an unnecessary carbon footprint.
It’s astounding that the USPS was able to find such a prized employee with Ms. F’s astute business acumen. She is perfectly comfortable in giving up 20 times the cost of doing business in income as I now vend all my shipping business with United Parcel Services and Federal Express. They are not only are able to make left hand turns, but find it in their capacity to punch the keypad at my gate and drive down my driveway to deliver my packages at my door with a smile.
Did she even think to calculate the man-hours it takes to tag each and every one of my hundreds of catalogs I receive each month with a “Return to Sender/No Such Address” sticker? I’m astonished that her talents have not been discovered by any of the Fortune 500.
But her sense of logic really outshines her business savvy. In one breath, she maintains that the post office cannot guarantee delivery in a rural area, and in the next, she tells me my road is too busy and heavily traveled to make a left hand turn at my driveway. Am I the only one not following the logic here? What kind of "out of the box thinking" does this take?
When comparing the left hand turn that the postman makes at the road they want me to put my mailbox, I noticed two things:
It’s obvious that the underlying reason for this request to move my mailbox is to ease the burden of his job. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at such laziness.
The history of our postal system is fascinating. The “unofficial” famous slogan used to describe our modern day courier system was penned by Herodutus, a Greek historian, who was describing a horse relay system in ancient Persia 2500 years ago: “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Ah, yes. But did they have to turn left? Nowhere in the history does it mention that these couriers were exempt from turning left.
In the 1800’s the Pony Express was developed by courageous, entrepreneurial young men to carry mail by pony relays through the savage wilderness of the American frontier between Missouri and California. Couriers for the Pony Expressed delivered documents for Lincoln’s inaugural address while braving the elements of the wilderness or ambushing thieves firing bullets and arrows. One rider completed an 8 hour-120 mile ride after surviving an ambush that badly wounded him with an arrow tearing through his cheek. The courier’s courage only emphasized his pride and diligence in achieving his goal.
I'll bet the Pony Express made plenty of left hand turns, especially to avoid bullets and arrows.
Humbly, I admit my Pottery Barn catalogs and credit card bills do not compare to documents for Lincoln’s inaugural address. Then again, I’m not asking my postman to brave ambushing thieves or the wilderness of the Wild West. I merely ask that the postmaster and postman dig down deep for some of that Pony Express pride and diligence and find a way to turn left to deliver my mail. Am I asking too much?