Passport Finale: Rain, Snow and Gloom of Night
As mentioned in previous posts, for the past month people in my apartment building have been getting everybody else’s mail except their own. (In my own household, we had to call the credit card and various utility companies to determine how much we owed, since those particular bills never made it into our mailbox. We did, however, get credit-card and cable bills intended for various neighbors.)
Not getting your mail is bad at any time, and it’s especially so when you await the arrival of the passport you need to go on vacation in a couple weeks. Naturally, I became a tad upset on July 7 when I checked the state department and post office tracking sites and discovered my passport had allegedly been delivered June 29. I formally reported the passport missing, applied for a new one and later got a call from a passport office in Charleston, South Carolina, saying they’d FedEx a new passport to me. The next day, July 10, I came home to finally find in my mailbox the Priority Mail envelope allegedly delivered twelve days before.
I made the discovery after business hours on Friday, so I called and left a message with the passport folks’ South Carolina office. That Monday they called at work to tell me my original passport was invalidated, so I needed the new passport plus I had to send my old one back.
Through all those days, I frequently called my post office to complain. I got repeated promises to speak to my mail carrier and call me back. Nothing ever came of this. Last Thursday I called again, recited the same litanies and added “What, exactly, do I have to do to get my mail delivered? That’s all I am asking at this point. You guys blamed the problem on a hard-to-read mailbox label; we changed the label so it has our name and address in HUGE black waterproof letters. It hasn’t worked. We’re still not getting our mail. Today I got mail for two different addresses. Even if your guy simply can’t read a mailbox label, couldn’t he at least figure apartments A-2 and C-3 don’t share the same mailbox?”
That afternoon I came home to find a Fed Ex note on my mailbox. Turns out the company makes deliveries to my residential neighborhood between eleven a.m. and noon, on weekdays. Coincidentally, “between eleven a.m. and noon on weekdays” is exactly when most Americans with jobs aren’t home. I’m one of them. So I had to go to the Fed Ex depot, over an hour’s drive from where I work and a half-hour from home, which furthermore closed before the time I usually get off work.
I arranged to get all my work done early that morning, and on Friday afternoon journeyed through the wilds of semi-rural western Connecticut. At last, 19 days after the post office delivery confirmation claimed to have delivered it, I had a valid passport in my hand.
My passport wasn’t the only thing the post office lost. There remained the matter of my missing birth certificate, which the state department mailed out a couple days after my first passport. What happened there?
The Carolina passport office called again to say my birth certificate had been returned to them. According to “the computer,” the caller said, my address doesn’t actually exist.
My building’s divided into six apartments, each labeled with a letter-and-number combination ranging from A-1 to C-2. The woman said “the computer” couldn’t handle letters in the address because the apartments were actually numbered 1 through 6.
I said nothing. I took a long, slow, deep breath. I exhaled it in a Sigh Of Infinite Resignation. Then, finally, in an utterly exhausted voice, I said, “Then I simply don’t. Know. What to tell you. I’ve lived here since 2004, and my address has been [letter]-[number] all this while, and it never was a problem until last month.”
The birth certificate arrived in the same Fed Ex envelope as my passport.
So I got those two documents in hand last Friday. But what of the third missing mail item – my moderately expensive eBay package?
That same Friday, I found in my mailbox the little pink slip you get when there’s a registered-mail package you must sign for at the post office. Hooray! Of course, it was also stamped “FINAL NOTICE” in big red letters, despite being the first notice I received, and I had to pick it up immediately or else they would ship it back to the original sender, but since I’d arranged to take off work early to get to the Fed Ex office anyway, I also made it home before the post office closed. Finally, I had my missing parcel.
So the three items I knew to expect in the mail are finally safe in my possession and I suppose it all turned out all right. Unless I get arrested for skipping state or federal jury duty. I’ll tell the cop I never got the notice but he won’t believe me, because the notice had been entrusted to the U.S. Mail.