>The Soggy Book

>Over the summer, I won a book called Counting the Cost. It’s a depression- era love story, inspired by real-life events recounted by author Liz Adair’s family members. A couple of weeks ago, the book arrived in the daily post. It was soaked.

A wet book is a ruined book, and as we have not had any satisfaction from the local postmaster, the branch manager, or our carrier on those few occasions in the past when we’ve had a serious issue with mail delivery, I didn’t bother with them.

Going back a few months, when the USPS was talking about cutting back to 5-day-a-week delivery and raising postage rates again, I sent a letter through the USPS.gov website. I pointed out the damage that one of our carriers did to a package by jamming it into a too-small mailbox instead of driving down the 600′ driveway to deliver it (we were home at the time) or leaving a slip. The branch manager told us the package should have been insured if it was important. The carrier said, if it’s important, use FedEx or UPS. Seriously.

I got an email back asking for some very specific details, which have been forgotten over time. This was more than five years ago, before we moved to our current house.

I went back to that e-mail and hit reply. I explained that I’d just received this book, and it was soaked through, meaning it did more than get wet from the mail truck to my mailbox. The box itself was closed; the doors (front and back on this model) were up tight.

I received an email back asking for specific information about the date of delivery, where it was mailed from, and a few other questions. They were not responsible for compensation, but they would investigate.

I answered their questions and hit send, and I got an automated response that said, basically, I was sending it to the wrong place, the address had changed, yadda yadda. Long story short, I ended up copying the Postmaster General of the U.S. with my final report.

A couple of days later, I get a call from my local postmaster, the same person who, when we tried to call him about a previous problem a few years early, said we needed to talk to the branch manager without even listening to our complaint (which involved the branch manager’s attitude). This time, he was really apologetic. He was going to go to my house and look at my mailbox and talk to my carrier and find out what happened. Wow!

An hour or so later, he called again. Said the carrier told him the package was wet when it got to Pensacola, and because he didn’t follow procedure and package it up with a note explaining what happened, he was going to reimburse me for the price of the book.

At the same time, the Ms. Adair’s PR lady had kindly offered to send me another copy of the book, which arrived about 10 days later (I was beginning to wonder if my carrier was taking revenge) and it was in great shape. I have offered to pay for the book, since the Post Office came through, and I’m waiting to see how to make out the check and where to mail it.

I know that the post office handles a whole lot of mail without any problems or damage. I know that accidents can happen. I do wonder what befell that first package. Did it fall into a puddle? Was there a leak in one of the mail trucks en route? How long did it sit in water? If it fell into a puddle, as long as it was retrieved quickly and wiped off, it wouldn’t have been ruined. As you can see from the photo, the package was torn in several places — did that happen before or after it was exposed to the water? Was it really nobody’s fault, or was someone having a bad day and when the book fell into the water said, “Screw it, someone else’ll pick it up.” The Postal Service uses plastic tubs to sort and carry the mail; if water got into one of those tubs, either being carried through a downpour or because of a leak in the truck or some other reason, the mail in that tub would just sit and soak until it was re-sorted or delivered.

It’s up to every person in the chain to be alert and considerate to ensure the safe delivery of the mail. I thank the outstanding men and women of the U.S. Postal Service who give their all to make sure the mail gets through. To those who think their job is not important, that they don’t get paid enough to care, I hope you find a new job really soon, something that really isn’t important or meaningful to anyone, because we’ll all be better off without you.

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About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have three cats and a husband.
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