Courtesy of the United States Ghostal Service
Friday, April 12, 2019 at 02:44PM

I have a sad strange tale to tell.

Its particulars have developed over the last several months, and a couple of weeks ago, the matter came to a resolution an unusually unsatisfying sort-of conclusion.

They say that when Mercury is in retrograde -- as it's said to be on an average of three times per year -- Mercury (and other things) seem to be moving backwards.

As astrologers are fond of saying: As above, so below.

So it has been with several items of our mail. They seem to be going backwards, that is.

The first time I had an inkling that something was amiss, was last fall. 

I do not remember the details because I considered it a one-off and dismissed it from me overworked pirate brain.

But it concerned a piece of mail, which someone (I don't recall who but I believe it was an item of business, rather than personal, correspondence) reported to TG had been returned to them, marked Undeliverable As Addressed.

Except, the item was addressed correctly, and completely, and legibly (as in, typed). And we have lived at this address for nearly fourteen years.

We scratched our heads and soon, overcome by events, forgot about it. These things happen. Glitches, I think they're called.

Until early February, when my mother reported that the birthday card she had sent to TG in late January, had been returned to her.

Marked Undeliverable As Addressed.

My mother knows our address and her handwriting is most adequate.

Let's pull over and park here for a mo.

According to the United States Postal Service:

Undeliverable as addressed (UAA) mail is a clunky name for a big problem: Mail not reaching its intended recipient because the address is incorrect, incomplete, or illegible. ... But the costs of UAA go beyond just returning, destroying, or forwarding undeliverable mail.

I'd be quasi-sympathetic if I -- or those sending mail to me and mine -- were part of the problem.

But we're not. No one sends us mail addressed incorrectly, incompletely, or illegibly. No one.

Shortly afterwards, my daughter, Stephanie, who lives in North Carolina, reported that her mother-in-law, Debbie, who lives in Pennsylvania, had sent me a thank-you note for a Christmas gift.

And that in short order, Debbie's note had been returned to her.

You guessed it: Undeliverable as addressed.

I sputtered and fumed and apologized to Stephanie, asking her to convey my vexation to Debbie for the inconvenience of having a properly addressed letter -- with fifty-five cents worth of postage affixed -- returned to her as undeliverable.

In due time, my daughter had a visit from her in-laws and the subject returned-to-sender thank-you note was surrendered to her, and subsequently hand-delivered to me.

The sight of that letter, perfectly addressed in Debbie's beautiful handwriting -- nothing about the address incomplete, incorrect, or illegible -- with the big yellow Undeliverable As Addressed sticker plastered across it, incensed me.

I decided to confront the postman, pirate style.

When I heard the annoying insect-buzz of the mail truck moving along the street one day, I grabbed the letter and headed down the driveway to wait beside the mailbox.

No; I was not rude. I was polite.

I've told you before about our postman; he's a mostly nice guy who now and then has been known to get testy. He's only a curmudgeon on days that end in y.

There was the time during the summer of 2016 when he nearly beat my door down to tell me that my dog had been in his way as he attempted to deliver the mail, so he'd driven up into the driveway and beeped, but getting no response had been forced to carry the mail all the way up the steps to the door, and hadn't I heard him beeping?

No, I hadn't. Big deal. And -- another minor point -- I didn't have a dog. My dog was dead. Still is.

(This took place in the dog-lean months between our beloved Javier's passing -- on April 11, 2016, three years ago yesterday -- and the acquisition of my adored Rizzo on January 7, 2017.)

Mr. Postman was bent all out of shape that day. But I took my mail from his hand and declined to engage, because at the moment I thought that the dog he'd encountered may have been Andrew's Rambo, who was on the premises at the time.

And I thought it may have been possible that Rambo, who enjoyed lolling in the front yard, may have set a paw in the road for five seconds or so before losing interest.

(It turned out that it wasn't Rambo at all, though. The postman had accused me of being irresponsible with respect to a dog that not only did I not own, but whose identity is to this day unknown to me.)

But I digress.

So anyway, on the day I decided to confront the United States Government -- in the form of our postal delivery person -- I had one simple question.

To wit:

Why is it that a trend has developed within the last few months, of our completely, correctly, and legibly addressed mail being returned to the senders of said mail, marked Undeliverable As Addressed?

And I produced Debbie's thank-you note as evidence.

I wasn't asking for the answers to all the riddles of the universe. I kept it simple, concise, and to the point. I accused no one of anything; I asked a valid question. That's all.

And naturally -- naturally -- what I got was instant defensiveness.

I don't know, but I know that I didn't do it, the postman replied.

Well, I said, I'm not really interested in who did it, because that doesn't matter. What I need to know is, why is this happening?

It's become a trend -- four pieces of mail that I'm aware of within three months have been returned to the sender, marked Undeliverable As Addressed -- and I just want to know why, and what can be done about it.

Well, he said -- patiently, as though addressing the village idiot -- you're talking about a drop of water in Lake Murray.

No, I said. I'm talking about four pieces of mail in as many months, that have been correctly, completely, and legibly addressed to this house -- which is in an established neighborhood on a labeled street and whose mailbox is clearly marked with a number -- being returned to the sender marked Undeliverable As Addressed.

I waited.

He started again.

Well, I do this route nine out of ten days and I know you all and I would never do that but someone substituting on the route for me, not knowing you, might do it if they were on the wrong street and realized it wasn't the right house or if they weren't sure if the mail was yours and they felt like they didn't have time to get to the bottom of it so they just put that sticker on it and sent it back because they figured it would eventually get to you blah blah blah ...

Or some sort of malarkey like that which, I think you'll agree, makes no sense whatsoever.

The pieces of mail were clearly, completely, and legibly addressed. The street is identified; the house is marked with a number. The mail delivery person has that one job: to deliver the mail to that address.

I responded:

But if the mail is correctly, completely, and legibly addressed, and the delivery person has the express job of delivering said piece of mail to that house, which is on a clearly, completely, legibly marked street and has a clear, complete, legible number on the mailbox in front of it, why would they slap a great big lie on that mail in the form of that yellow sticker that says Undeliverable As Addressed and stick it back into the pile, to be sent back to the person who paid for postage and mailed it in good faith?

It's just wrong, I pointed out, to put that sticker on there. It's a great big lie.

It became obvious to me at that point, that our mailman was sick and tired of discussing the issue with me.

Look, he said, gazing out over the steering wheel of his mail truck as though searching for a faint light at the end of a hundred-mile-long pitch-dark tunnel. I know of two people who might have done this in my absence. I'll make a note of it and talk to them and try to get to the bottom of it.

I knew that was as good as it was going to get. I bit my tongue and did not thank the postman (yes; sarcastically) for condescending to do those things for me. 

Neither did I mention that a simple I'm sure sorry that's been happening, Miz Weber, and it shouldn't have, and I'll do everything in my power to see that it doesn't happen again because there's no excuse for it would have been nice to hear.

I took my belated but no less sincere thank-you note from Debbie back inside the house, and put it where I keep such treasures, and did my best to forget the whole thing.

And that is all for now.


Happy Friday :: Happy Weekend

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