The Pony Express

I have a problem with the United States Postal Service. I am really frustrated with their inconsistent delivery. I mail a lot of packages–to my son who has worked and gone to school in Germany and to his and my daughter-in-law’s home back east–and of course to my captain when he is near a port long enough to be able to receive mail. Care packages from home mean so much to him.

The most recent problem came on August 3 when I mailed to him a Medium Flat Rate box full of cookies, Deadwood second season DVD, and a variety of teas. I added a Delivery Confirmation so I could track its progress.  I mailed pretty much the same exact box to my son. For both of them, the “expected delivery date” was August 6. Great, right? The cookies would still be fresh! Well, my son received his box as expected on the right day. My captain’s box seemed to disappear along the way. I went online to see that it could be tracked to a certain point and then it stopped. I called the 800 number on Saturday and they were kind of unhelpful in that they couldn’t answer the question about what happened to the package, but yes, it should have arrived, and a postal service representative would call me on Monday and she gave me a case number to initiate an investigation. As it was, no one called me at all, but I called (‘cos I’m a great believer in following up) and spoke with someone else who said the “expected delivery date” is not a guarantee. It basically doesn’t mean anything. WHAT???? Then, what does it mean? When I asked why that is, and why is the delivery sometimes so prompt and sometimes things never get to where they’re going (another story) she did not have an answer for me. I think she was getting frustrated with me because I really wanted to know why their service is so inconsistent and her responses were unsatisfying and didn’t really address the issue. We should be able to trust that any mailed item would reach its destination.  I guess I’ll try FedEx next time. They seem to be more successful at prompt delivery. Oh, I finally discovered the package got there yesterday (Sunday) but home baked cookies are best eaten right away, not ten days later. My captain still doesn’t have it, however, because he had to leave to deliver some equipment to another port and won’t be back for two days. How annoying! The USPS financial problems and loan defaults are all over the news, and I really wish they did a better job!

P.S. The package that was completely lost was probs the most important thing ever: the books for my son’s dissertation. Last summer, he attended a seminar here and I mailed his research books back to him on the east coast so he would have a bit less to carry while he was travelling. The books never got to him. Ever!  After an exhaustive number of telephone calls and letters and forms filled out, three months later a piece of the box was mailed back to me. Yes, a piece of the box. From a tiny post office in a tiny town in Massachusetts.  It made it most of the way, I guess. No books, however. When I pointed out to yet another USPS employee that the Pony Express could have gotten from coast to coast in less time than that, they did not share my sense of humor. Some of the books belonged to Yale and Brown and there were library fines incurred and the other books were integral to his dissertation and needed to be repurchased. Even worse was the file of handwritten notes that could never be replaced. More stress is the very last thing a graduate student needs especially near the end of his academic journey. As a last resort, I wrote our congressman, outlining each and every detail of each and every book and of the entire debacle (one never stops being a momma bear), and was very surprised when a staffer called me back, and even more surprised when we received a check to cover the repurchase of the books and library fines. If I had not been so very diligent, my son (I mean me) would have been $500 poorer. If only I could be paid for the hours I spent on the telephone, composing letters, filling out forms, emailing and mailing them back, I would be able to get that Chanel handbag I so want…I mean, need.


2 thoughts on “The Pony Express

  1. Exact experience I had today with USPS. I’m usually a big cheerleader for them. I’ve sent thousands of packages and only a couple have taken forever before this week. The past packages were international, so I assumed they were held up in customs at their destination. I DID send a giant Flat Rate box of handmade cards (hundreds of dollars worth) that never arrived at its destination (literally like 15 miles away). I presumed it was lost forever. More than a YEAR after that, it magically appeared on my porch, having traveled who knows where and back. Ridiculous.


    • Wow. I asked them why they couldn’t track more efficiently like Fedex, but that comment didn’t make them love me. I once send an apple pie to my son in Germany; it never got there, but came back to me three months later and was a biohazard at that point! Good luck with this problem, hope it gets resolved quickly!


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