Well, it looks like my last self-absorbed writing exercise garnered a few opinions on the state of the U.S. Postal Service. Let me clarify that while I feel I am getting my money's worth from a forty-five-cent stamp, I do not put the mail carriers on a pedestal. I simply trust this delivery system more than an electronic one.
Through the years, I've had some issues with my mail. The first problem to rear its ugly head was my small-town postmaster taking liberties with my People magazine. Let's just say that when it has arrived in my post office box on Monday for six months, I notice when I don't get it until Tuesday. Especially when it has cookie crumbs chilling near the staples, in their own tiny grease spots.
"Oh, c'mon, Val," you might say. "Don't be so petty. No harm, no foul." But my second issue could have caused harm. While teaching and living in Cuba, Missouri, I took some classes toward my Master's degree. The classes were through Drury College in Springfield. Driving there was not feasible, so I took a couple of night classes at their Fort Leonard Wood campus. I mailed in my tuition check, as any reasonable person might do, with plenty of time to spare. Imagine my surprise when I received a letter from Drury saying they would have to cancel my credits if I did not pay the tuition. Of course those letters always arrive on a Friday afternoon, and you don't get around to opening them until Friday evening, and so you stew all weekend over your impending expulsion from your Master's program.
By Monday, I had worked myself into a snit. I burned up the phone line with my haughty accusation that the Drury registrar's office needed to take a refresher course on the difference between their butts and some random holes in the ground. Only to go all Emily Litella on them when they inquired as to whether I had the actual canceled check in my hand. Um. Never mind. I sent them another one. For all I know, my original check is mildewing in a dilapidated tool shed on the outskirts of Doolittle, having been stashed there by a carrier who could not deal with the concept that the mail never stops.
More recently, we've had an issue with missing mail at our rural bank of mailboxes down on the county road. I fear it is the fault of a local ne'er-do-well and not the rural carrier himself. I spent the first two weeks of one August fuming because my employer had not sent out the regular letter informing us of important back-to-school dates. Only to have my teaching buddy tell me that she had gotten her letter three weeks previously. Oh, and apparently the thief had also absconded with a phone bill and an electric bill. Which I found out when the next month's bills seemed twice as high. And I saw that I was delinquent. Funny how checks for the full amount rectified that problem forthwith.
Six months later, the issue cropped up again. Hick had neck surgery to put a titanium plate on his vertebrae. Medical bills trickled in from various providers. I paid them as I got them. Until one showed up from the hospital that was marked thirty days past due. It was not a small bill. Over two grand. I was mortified. We always pay our bills on time. Well...unless they don't come in the mail. I don't go looking for them, or cross off a monthly checklist. Again, it came on a Friday. Another weekend stewing was in order.
I called the hospital to explain the situation. That we had never received the first bill, and that I wanted them to put a note in the file that the check was on its way. The lady was very polite. "Oh, don't worry about it. We can set up a payment plan for you." I told her that I didn't want a payment plan. I was sending the full amount. She said that if I wanted to use a credit card or debit card RIGHT THEN, she was authorized to cut the bill in half. IN HALF!!! You bet I used my debit card!
I later told Hick that I was embarrassed. They must have thought we could not pay. They assumed we were paupers, needing a reduction, a handout of sorts. Hick said, "I don't care what they think of me. THEY JUST CUT THAT BILL IN HALF!"
More on this concept tomorrow.