And this guy is one of my letter carriers.
So's this one.
So I just met the real life Neuman! I didn't meet him in person. I don't know if he looks like Wayne Knight, but it had to be the mail guy on whom that character was based.
I didn't get any mail today. Some of you might consider that a good thing, if all you were expecting were bills or Dear John/Jane letters. I was expecting money...from someone else to me. So, at least on this day, I was looking forward to my
But he didn't show. And more important than him bringing me money that may or may not have arrived today anyway, he didn't take my outgoing mail, which included a bill, along the way.
So I called the post office, and Neuman answered the phone.
Me: Is this the (yada yada) Street Post Office?
Neuman: Yeeeeees. (Seriously, picture or imagine that guy who used to do the annoying train conductor's and department store salesman's voice on the old Jack Benny Radio Show and you'll get the voice.)
Me: Well, I'm calling from the 1900 block of (yada yada) Street. And I don't think we got mail delivery today.
Neuman: Hold on.
Neuman, five minutes later: He went home already.
Me: Why? He didn't come to our block.
Neuman: Weeeell, why would you say that?
Me: Well, because it's after 5 p.m., I know the post office is now closed for the day, and the only thing in my mailbox is the bill my wife placed in it early this morning to be picked up.
Neuman: Hmmm. So you'd like me to assume that because a letter of yours wasn't picked up that your whole block was skipped?
Me: Well, if our whole block wasn't skipped - and assuming the letter carrier didn't just innocently, accidentally overlook us - then you guys have some 'splainin' to do.
Neuman: No we don't!
Me: Don't snap at me. I've kept a civil tone with you. But since we're playing semantics, if you want me to assume the rest of my block was serviced today, then should I also assume the letter carrier purposely skipped just me?
Me: OK, so I should assume he skipped the whole block?
Me: Who are you, Gary Cooper? (Actually, I didn't say this. But I really wanted to.)
Me, for real: OK, so maybe he just forgot and missed us. If that's the case, then no worries. But you can't blame me for calling out of concern, 'cause this isn't the first time we "apparently" haven't gotten mail service.
Neuman: Noooooo. That's not fair of you either. This is a veteran letter carrier who had your route today. He's very familiar with your route. There's no way he forgot to deliver anything.
Me: OK, so back to my original point. I should assume he skipped me or the whole block?
Neuman: Nooooooo, neither. But he maybe he came to your neighborhood and just decided to not take your outgoing mail today.
Me: Why? Was the envelope too heavy or something? It's been picked up every other day.
Neuman: Sooooooo. Postal regulations say that a letter carrier doesn't have to take your outgoing mail if he doesn't want to, unless your mailbox is curbside.
Me: You're familiar with this neighborhood, considering this block is just four blocks from your post office?
Me: Then you know the layout is such that there is a grassy swale lining all the sidewalks, so we can't have curbside mailboxes. They have to be "inland" a few feet, next to our houses.
Me: And that doesn't matter?
Popcorn break: At this point, I'm no longer annoyed that my mail didn't get picked up. I won't assume it didn't get delivered, 'cause maybe I didn't have anything.
Me: Listen, I'm not blaming you for my mail not getting picked up. But regardless of this curbside regulation every time I've placed an outgoing piece of mail in my box in the nearly two years I've lived here it got picked up. And that was probably because the letter carriers on this route realize that we can't put our boxes on the curb, so it's not fair to apply that regulation to us. So if you're right, and today's letter carrier was a veteran who knows this neighborhood, then just admit it. He forgot! Or he skipped us! Maybe it was an accident. But quit trying to be coy, and deal with it.
Neuman: I told you, he's gone home for the day. But that's what you get when your route doesn't have a permanent letter carrier. If you're not happy with the service you can always rent a P.O. box. But it could be like this another couple of months.
Me: I'm not paying you guys to hold my mail. You get tax bucks to deliver it for "free." And that permanent letter carrier excuse is bogus. Our letter carrier retired about six months ago, before Christmas.
Neuman: His paperwork hasn't officially gone through the system yet, so we can't say his job is available until it does. And that means we can't fill his job.
Me: You're kidding. This is the efficiency of the postal service? He hasn't delivered anything in six months. He's retired. We've had a different substitute letter carrier almost every day of the week since then. And you guys can't hire someone yet, even though the old guy is probably laying on the beach somewhere (good for him) sipping a cold one?
Neuman: That's the way it goes.
Me: Unbelievable. If I want to write a letter to someone at your neighborhood post office, to whom should I address it?
Me: Is that his first or last name?
Neuman: I'm not telling you who. Just address it to manager.
Me: Thanks for your help. Mumble. Hope the letter gets delivered.
Me: Nothing. Thanks for your help.
Neuman: Surrrrrre. Thanks for calling the post office!