We all probably have complaints about the United States Postal Service. We also joke about people “going postal”. However, I think what I experienced after we did some remodeling really should win some sort of prize for most ridiculous application of outdated rules.
Our 1925 house was located in Old Town, a quaint neighborhood of miss-matched houses. Some had been totally redone, and had yuppies living in them. Some had been converted into rentals with several apartments in one old, huge house and had students in them. Some were falling apart. We bought ours in 1993, just as the real estate market started going nuts. Our first mortgage was less than the rent we'd been paying for a two bedroom apartment. Our cottage wasn't falling apart, but it needed work.
The Engineer rewired the entire place. Silly us, we thought being able to run the microwave AND the fridge at the same time was a necessary luxury. We also redid the one bathroom, and the pepto bismol pink kitchen. We'd only planned to stay until we had our family. At a whopping 760 square feet, this house would not be big enough. But like a lot of plans of ours, that one didn't happen. Seven years later we were still in our starter house, one kid in the den made into nursery, the other on his way. The newly enclosed front porch was our sunroom, and soon to be YellowBoy's room.
This porch had stone pillars, so securing dry-wall to them was quite the challenge. But The Engineer's brother, Trouble, is a skilled carpenter, and the new room was wonderful. We'd even installed a mail slot so that our mail would land indoors, on a shelf, instead of being squished into the mailbox which had previously been in its spot. I even wrote a note to our grumpy mailman, Mike, declaring with pride our new mail slot. (I knew his name because in trying to be friendly and de-grumpify him, I'd asked.)
After three days, I still had no mail. Strange, we used to get all kinds of snail spam before I discovered how to stop that. A day with no mail was really very rare. Three? Something was up. I waited for Mike.
“Hey Mike, didn't you see our mail slot?”
“Yes. I did. It's illegal.”
“It just is. Fix it.”
And away he went. Didn't even give me that day's mail. I told you he was grumpy.
So I called. You probably know how hard it is to get an actual person on the phone. I managed after several days.
“Well ma'am. It's like this. You aren't allowed to change the method of delivery without prior authorization. If you want a slot and not a box, it's gotta be approved beforehand.”
“Ok, sorry. What form do I need?”
“Well it's too late now. You've done it without the form. You won't be approved.”
“Would you mind explaining that to me? You said I needed prior approval. I understand that it's why I haven't been getting my mail. But if I ask for approval now, won't the rest of my mail be delivered?”
“No, you did it without authorization, so you won't be able to.”
“You mean to tell me that whoever first built this house in 1925 has forever decided that I have to have a box?”
Unbelievable. When I was done ranting and raving, I put the mailbox BACK. And waited. Four days. No mail. I intercepted Mike again. (Despite his extreme grumpiness, he was at least punctual. We always got our mail between 3:00 and 3:30.)
“Hey Mike! I put the box back, can I have my mail?”
“Not until you go to the main station and pick up what they're holding and fill out the form to restart service.”
I was so fed up I just slammed back into the house. It was October. It was snowing. I was 36 weeks pregnant. High risk pregnant. With a toddler. I called.
“Can you please make an exception? I'm high risk very pregnant and can't come get the mail.”
Of course not. But by now this had been going on for over two weeks and I knew there were bills I had to pay. I'm sad to say they won, and I went over there. There were two plastic bins of mail (you've probably seen them behind the scenes while waiting in one of the impossibly long lines for your turn, they're the size of laundry baskets). I struggled, one bin at a time, making two trips with the bin precariously propped on the “hood” of the stroller over Jake's head while he screamed in protest in the seat. I couldn't leave him in the car. I couldn't carry the bin AND hold his hand.
I got my mail. They won. Mike started delivering again.
But the story doesn't end there. A year later we moved. I was excited about many things regarding our new house, and one of them was that I'd have a new mailman. I thought I'd have a new mailman.
It was several weeks before I spotted him. I stared in disbelief. Mr. Grumpy himself was carrying mail. On my street, on the other side of town. I couldn't stop myself from striking up a conversation.
“What are you doing all the way over here?”
“I mean, are you subbing for someone?”
“No, I finally got the route I've been asking for.”
Now folks, what are the odds? Because I assure you, I'm not making this up.