July 31 2012
When I walk into my local Post Office the place always looks like it’s just been robbed by a dancing flash mob.
Everything is everywhere. Express Mail envelopes are scattered hurricane style. Broken stuff is on the floor. A long-dead section is roped off with ‘Priority Mail’ tape like a crime scene. An alarmingly dated LED electronic announcement board hangs on the wall. It holds no current announcements though. It only advertises the default features of the new technology. Like having the ability to show both date AND time. (The example was a colorful scrolling February 15, 1998 (swear). It also flashes ‘Merry Christmas’ epileptic-ly fast. And a low-res turtle mosey by to show it wasn’t just about words).
Also a huge sign hangs over one section bragging that they can “Now Take Passport Photos” (they can’t and don’t). Half the place is literally held together with Priority Mail tape including the seat cushions our Postal Workers sit on. The window to get packages has a big sign on it that says ‘Knock on Window! Bell is Broken!’ The window is thick-ass bulletproof glass so you have to knock harder than you’d knock on anything just to get a dull sound out of it. Of course, the desk pens are a long lost memory. Only stray wires remain.
So it’s no big surprise that a month ago the gff and me put in for a forwarding address change — and neither of us have received a single piece of forwarded mail. Our mail is basically gone. We haven’t seen our mail in over four weeks.
I resisted getting involved initially. I refused to believe that on top of my disaster with my movers (see previous posts) and losing my decade-old home phone number in a cable change shuffle (thanks for bricking that layup Time Warner Cable) — that I’d have to dive in to that mess of a post office to find our friggin mail. It figured it would show up in bulk any day.
But after two weeks it became real. Our mail was lost in the system. The nightmare became real. I had faith though. I assumed it was probably piling up in the back somewhere. It wasn’t the mail that was lost. It was just the memo about my mail. Mail that I grew more desperate for though. There were checks in there. Checks I needed because they contained money I needed. There was letters from my nephews from summer camp. There were my bills. My magazines. Besides the idea that I needed this stuff in actual reality — I was also counting on the forwarded mail to remind me what stuff needed a change of address one by one.
I took a deep breath and picked up the phone and started in. After navigating through an automated system I was transferred to Customer Service. It rang no less than 45 times before someone picked up . The woman on the other end sounded annoyed that I let it ring so long. As if she was just out of the shower with shampoo still in her hair.
I explained my situation. I filled out a Change of Address in June to start July 1st– and haven’t received any mail. Both of us did and haven’t. We both received confirmations of the Change of Address but that was it. The woman asked if I filled out my Change of Address online or in person. I told her online. She sighed and told me I shouldn’t have done it online. “You shouldn’t do stuff like that online.” (I shouldn’t??) She told me I’d need to talk to Karen about this — but Karen was at lunch.
When I asked if “Karen” could call me back when she’s back from lunch. The woman told me I’d be better off calling her. I took out a pen to take down Karen’s number — the woman told me that I should just call the number I just called to reach Karen. (The one that just rang 45 times before someone picked up). I asked her to please take down my number anyway. She did.
For the next few days I tried calling the number but nobody ever picked up. Then on a Sunday afternoon (sunday afternoon?) I saw a mysterious 718 number come up on my cellphone. I answered. The woman said her name was Karen. She was calling about my mail!
I was excited like a little kid who just got a call back from the girl he has a crush on. I gushed over her responsiveness and started explaining how much I needed her. That excitement lasted a short 20 seconds as my cellphone signal started breaking up. Karen gave me the, ‘Helllooo… I can’t hear you… Helloooo?!!’ (In that annoying annoyed tone people give you as if the crappy signal is somehow your own dumb fault.) I desperately paced in my apartment looking for more bars. (I have a dead zone inside my apt btw) – but after a short 10 seconds Karen hung up on me.
I immediately called back and the phone rang and rang and rang. I now knew I’d have to go there in person and deal with this directly.
Monday morning two weeks ago I headed in to find my Karen… (To be continued…)