: views from the Hill

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Sneak thieves or how I spent my Tuesday

Monday too, for that matter.

We came back to Dale from Hill after lunch on Sunday (having decided to bag the CRL soirée because his nibs wasn't feeling like dancing) and there was no mail at'all in the mail box.

Understand that this situation is impossible under normal circumstances. We received no mail on Thursday because of Veteran's Day. His nibs checked the mail before he drove up to San Francisco on Friday and the mail hadn't come yet. We should've received a huge pile of mail (Th-F) on Friday plus our usual pile on Saturday, but in the mailbox? Nada.

Monday, I headed down to the P.O. to turn in the keys for the P.O.Box we weren't going to be needing any longer and retrieve my (woo hoo!) $1/key deposit refund. While I was there, I talked to the P.O. staff about my lack of mail over the weekend. "I think my mail was stolen," I said. "What should I do?"

The staffer asked me to wait and went in back to talk with our carrier, who was still mail sorting for the day. She came back to say that we'd had no mail. ("Impossible," I said. "You don't understand. We get *a lot* of mail *every* day.")

Well, that's what your carrier said. He said so far today he only had this in your bin. She handed me a copy of EE Times and asked if I wanted to speak to a supervisor. "Not now," I answered, and left.

Sent his nibs a note telling him what had transpired vis-à-vis our missing mail and he said, "We don't get a subscription to EE Times." Really? I remember getting a subscription. Wotever. (Turns out we used to get a mailed subscription, but haven't for the past four years. We now read it online. How time flies.)

In the afternoon I went down to check for mail and we received our usual pile. I checked the EE Times and, by golly, his nibs was right. The EE Times belonged to someone with our street number two streets over.

This mail mixup has been going on for over twenty years. A birth gift for the now twenty-three-year-old was misdirected and brought over to our home by the mis-receiver.

Twenty some years ago, a catalog order was misdirected. When I called the catalog company to say my order hadn't arrived, they said it had been delivered and sent me a copy of the signed receipt. Not my signature, I said. That person lives two streets over.

Turned out the neighbor two streets over with the same street number was also a customer of the same catalog company. The catalog customer staff called the woman and asked about my package. She claimed that she'd ordered the goods that had arrived and they were hers. She'd paid for them.

The catalog staff knew she hadn't ordered them. She hadn't paid for them. The catalog staff knew. They had their customer records after all, but they couldn't do anything about it, they said, because the item I'd ordered was out of stock and wouldn't be restocked. They sent me my money back instead. Yes, I still resent that woman for stealing my argyle vest and then lying about it. She's dead. Shouldn't I let go of the resentment?

In any hoo, plan was for me to go to the P.O. on Tuesday and talk with a supervisor about the sloppy mail misdirection. We retrieved the six bills that arrived with Monday's mail but kept the rest of the bundle of mail and ads and magazines intact so I could say, "See? See? This is the sort of mail bundle we get each and every day. There is no way we could have gone mail-less for three days no matter what our carrier says."

The neighbors two streets over tend to write "NOT AT THIS ADDRESS" on mail they get which should have come here. Well, duh. Of *course* we aren't at that address, we're two blocks over here. But does the carrier notice? No, he just sends the mail back to the sender (or ditches it if the return reply postage isn't guaranteed) and we're out of luck.

Last month, one of our credit card bills went missing. This month, what with late fees and interest charges, we had an extra $80 some to pay. The credit card people wouldn't take an "it never arrived" excuse.

I hate whacking at people, hate complaining to supervisors about their lackadaisical staff, but complain um. report I must.

On my way out the door to the P.O. yesterday, I found a pile of mail on our front stoop with a note from someone else in the neighborhood which read something like, we found your mail in our mailbox last night. We live far enough away from you that I don't think the carrier messed up. The plastic bag was ripped open and it looks like whatever was in it is gone. I think you need to report this to the police.

The plastic bag was ripped open (leaving only the blowin ads and the billing charge) and the contents missing for an order his nibs had placed. Not only that, but the Sotheby's catalog had also been taken out of its plastic mailer. Thieves must not have liked the looks of the upcoming auction. They left the catalog in the heap of mail.

I trooped into the P.O. and asked to speak to the supervisor. I told her how I'd been told the day before that there had been no mail for us over the long weekend. I showed her the pile I'd brought along and said, "See? This is the sort of mail traffic we get. There is no way we had no mail over the weekend."

I told her about the misdirected mail and showed her the EE Times I'd been given the day before. "This is part and parcel of the problem," I said. I told her about the mail theft. She had me fill out a thievery report. She told me to report the theft to the police. She is putting BRIGHT magenta notes on our bin and the corresponding bin two streets over so our carrier will remember to check. She said, "Luckily, both addresses are handled by the same carrier so we won't have to deal with two different carriers."

I said, "Luckily? The problem is because the mail is handled by the same carrier and he's being sloppy when he sorts everything out."

His nibs is contacting the sheriff with a "stolen mail" report today.

I called the catalog company which with absolutely (and I mean absolutely) no fuss or bother is reshipping the order.

Over breakfast today his nibs was checking the checkbook to see what critical things we might've lost in the mail. Billing for the younger young gent's credit card bill, perhaps. Tickets for South America, perhaps. Hopefully, our monthly bank statement wasn't taken. He thinks that's due in another couple days. If our tickets don't arrive in today's mail, he's going to call and see what's what and see if we need to have them re-issued and re-sent. We leave less than two weeks from now and we need to make sure our tickets arrive before we leave.

Last time his nibs received an order from the same catalog company, he came home from work to find the mail box door flap dropped open because the package was bulky and the carrier hadn't bothered to make sure the mailbox shut properly when he delivered the mail. Best guess is that the same thing might've happened again and some kids came by and noticed the packages and mail inside and decided to see what they could see.

Professional mail thieves wouldn't have left the leavings in a neighbor's mailbox, would they?

His nibs just called and now I needs must go down to the main house and wait for a sheriff's deputy to arrive and talk to me about the mail theft.

What a week. ...

Update: Two (count 'em TWO) deputy sheriffs arrived on my doorstep. One did most of the talking. The other stood to the side with his shades on. Deputy #1 (after I'd told my story), "Someone found your mail in their mailbox? Maybe the mail carrier just delivered your mail to the wrong address." Um. No. See? When his nibs called to say I needed to be janey on the spot to meet an officer -- the sheriff's department insisted that someone be there to give them a report in person -- he also told me that he'd called the person who'd returned our mail on our doorstep. Turns out she's further away than we'd thought. She's in the next town over. Different carrier.

Added the deputy with the shades, Different post office even.

After chatting for a while, they asked if I wanted to submit a police report. What did I want them to do for me? Well, I said. I really didn't think there was much to do. We were handling the possible lost plane tickets and such. The catalog company was resending our order gratis.

The reason we'd called them was because the post office asked us to when we submitted a stolen mail report at the P.O., I assume so that the sheriff would know that mail was being stolen. The two said that ours was the first report in a while for this neighborhood.

Our neighbor across the street, I told them, had had problems a couple years back and ever since we've taken all our outgoing mail to the P.O.

The person the next town over said she'd had her mail stolen a year or so ago and when the authorities found the lady (with mail addressed to our benefactress sitting on her front seat), the thief was busy filling out credit card applications.

Deputy with the shades says, that's nothing. A few years ago, we picked up an older lady in an older Honda in Cupertino. She had the back of the Honda crammed full with stuff. Your mail, your neighbor's mail, your neighbor's neighbor's mail. Took us hours to sort through all the mail. She wound up with a hundred and thirty or so counts of mail theft.

Well, good luck with it and thank you, I said.

His nibs tells me he called the travel folk and they said the tickets weren't missing. They were sending the tickets tomorrow -- UPS. The younger young gent's credit card bill usually doesn't arrive until later in the month. Ditto the bank statements.

Mayhap all is well.

May sneak thieves wake up with their jammies in a twist and stumble as they get out of bed..

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