Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Missing Mail

I know. Postal intrigue is my favorite too.

So.  It was business as usual last week at chez Wilks et Kozak:

Me: work, home, exercise, dishes, dinner, dishes (ugh subscribe to more traditional gender roles why don't you?  Why thank you, I will...).

Moses: research, research, research, editing research, video games, research.

Friday rolled around and I shuffled home from work around 6PM to wearily turn the key to an empty mail box.  And then suddenly, it dawned on me: we hadn't gotten a single piece of mail that week.  Not even so much as a penny saver or a tri-colored take-out menu from Wacky Wok (best Chinese Food nowhere--obviously their official slogan).  It seemed strange but then again, how often did we really get mail?  Did we normally receive something everyday?  Had Moses just been secretly practicing good boyfriend behavior by making my life easier and clearing out all the junk before I got home?  Dubious...

I stood there and pondered for a good ten seconds before I remembered I had a friend coming over in an hour and still had to clean my entire apartment and make dinner.  So out that thought went until Sunday night, a time I reserve for unleashing some of my less adorable neuroses in anticipation of the start of another week.

How is it possible that we received no mail?  What about our water bill?  What about my upgraded credit card? What about that endless stream of Bed Bath and Beyond 20% coupons addressed to Yolando Lopez or Current Resident?  When was the last time I even remember getting mail?  Was it last Thursday or last Tuesday? That one package was delivered without incident, does that count?

By Monday morning, despite all my efforts to be rational, it turned into a full blown thing.  The inside of my mind was beginning to resemble this:

With a conspiracy theory that went all the way to the top.  Of course!  It had to be Obama...

But seriously, I was starting to get a little bit concerned.  Sure most of bills we receive aren't surprises and if someone really needed to contact us they could use the phone or email but still.  What if we received a bill that we weren't expecting and what if I wanted my 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupon to add to my collection? (I was two away from having a complete set!)  We're not so entrenched in the digital age that mail has been rendered entirely obsolete.

So after letting my brain run a little wild on the car ride into work, I broke down and did something that no one the least bit inclined to anxiety ever should: I googled my symptoms.

Big mistake.

Because now, on top of worrying about the mail I wasn't getting, I was now worrying about all of the criminals trying to keep it from me.  Or the "cancer," if you will, to any foray into self diagnosis on
wedmb.  (A website that begs the immortal question: do you have a cold or are you actually seconds away from death?)

For example, did you know that someone can fraudulently file a change of address form without your knowledge?  Apparently the US postal service doesn't always require (or diligently check) your proof of ID.

Or maybe you have a serial killer stalker stealing your mail; the better they get to know you and your habits, the faster they can abduct you and fashion you into a lampshade.

Or maybe your letters are getting purloined for some good old fashion blackmailing purposes.

I so wish that at this point in the story, I could type something encouraging like: "and then I came to my senses and figured that everything was probably."


And then, I took an early lunch to drive down to the post-office to get to the bottom of this.  I needed to know exactly what I was up against--the extent of the criminal activity of which I was the unwitting victim. Because I was missing a week's worth of mail, goddamn it! And some foul play was definitely afoot...

I arrived at the post office at 11:25AM.  Good.  I narrowly beaten the lunch hour rush.  There was even a post office employee attempting to expedite the wait by going through the line and assisting customers with some of the more minor tasks like picking up packages and purchasing stamps.

She gets to me: "And what brings you here today, miss?"

I hedge. I probably shouldn't launch into the whole mail stealing serial killer hypothesis.

So I tell her I haven't receive any mail in "quite while" because clearly if I told her it had only been a week, I would have seemed hysterical.

She asked me where I lived and when she heard it was an apartment, she told me it was relatively common (?!) for the post office's copies of the mail box keys to get lost or broken.

I blinked.  Oh good.  At least I didn't overreact.


She then went into the back room to see if there was any mail for me and brought back a layered, heavily rubberbanded stack of letters.  I left the post office feeling a little bit like the wedding guest at the end of "the Rime of the Ancient Mariner": "a sadder and a wiser man."

I took the stack back to my apartment and began to unbind it when I realized: this is not just my mail.  This is the mail for everyone on my floor...

So I spent the rest of my lunch break sorting my neighbors mail and feeling unnerved by the fact that the post office employee had handed this to me without so much as glancing at my ID.  I could have been anyone. Well anyone who knows my first name, last name, and address but still.  I also could have been a total jag who picked out my letters from the heap and just chucked the rest.  What was stopping me?  I don't know my neighbors; I'm not a post-office employee.  

But no.  Half relieved, half resentful for the responsibility that had be thrust upon me, I sorted the mail in neat piles, rubber banded them back together by apartment number, stacked them nicely near the appropriate mail boxes and labeled them clearly with neon post-its.  Overachiever, thy name is Wendy.

And that was how I solved the mystery of the missing mail.  Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion of the Case of the Missing Pair of Headphones That I Think I Might Have Left On the Plane to San Francisco, in which I will accuse the Lizard People.

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