Monday, January 9, 2023

We're Finally Somebody!!!


I imagine that most of us in North America take a mailbox for granted.

It's just something that's there. Important only when a special treasure is expected. Begrudged when the bills roll in. Cussed at when stuffed full of sales crap, (Thank you very much AARP and medical insurance shills!) or you're trying to mow around it.

But The Wife and I have been living without a proper mailbox for so long we had forgotten just how special having one of these tin boxes out on the street at the end of the driveway really is!

OK, I was going to post a photo of an official document here but by the time I finished redacting all the incriminating evidence that might point to just who and where we are it looked like some approved release of an accounting report from a Trump business entity.

You see, 16 years ago we moved onto a previously unoccupied piece of land and received an official address from the county office of emergency services. A 911 address if you will. This comes with an entry in the county records, an update to the emergency dispatcher's map, an officially stamped document for our records, and a reflective fiberglass address plate.

First we fastened the address plate to the fence near the gate as instructed and carefully installed an official USPS mailbox as per USPS rural mailbox regulations. (X number of inches off the road and the bottom of the door between Y and Z inches high)

Then, continuing to follow instructions, we confidently swaggered in the door of the post office that services our area with our official embossed document in hand.

Within 5 minutes, 4 of those waiting on the postmaster (it's a small office so other than the two actual letter-carriers that's the extent of the staff) to acknowledge that we were standing at the service counter in the otherwise empty building and grudgingly heave himself out of his chair with the universal long-suffering sigh of the useless, we were slinking back out the door in defeat.

Not only did he refuse to accept our new address and tell us that if we didn't remove our newly installed mailbox that very day he would sic the law on us, he also informed us that he wasn't going to let us rent a PO Box within his little domain.

The former might have been because the address assigned to us by the county entity that does these things was out of sequence, but that's not unusual in this county. It could be that the county where we live is not the same county where his post office resides, again, not unique. Or maybe he was just a mean son of a bitch. I don't know. I also don't know why he refused to let us rent a PO Box. (Our old address was about to go away because we were selling that house so coming up with an official address was kinda urgent!)

So we went to the next nearest town, more than 3 times farther away, and had no trouble renting a PO Box, which has been our increasingly more expensive mailing address ever since. 

In other news, UPS had no trouble finding our new street address and delivering our Omaha Steaks orders once every year or two, nor did The Mattress Store when we had to replace our old one and figured it would be a lot easier on us for them to haul the old one away, and two different lumber yards found us just fine with the supplies for a couple of the larger projects. But since FedEx is pretty much in bed with the USPS, since the address wasn't officially recognized by the USPS they couldn't find it either.

It took Mapquest and Google maps a while, but about 7 or 8 years ago they started showing us in the right place as well, (Google's pin even lands right on our barn some 600 feet in from the road.) but that's still not good enough for the USPS and FedEx.

For 16 years we have made the 34 mile round trip to our mailbox about once a week.

For 16 years we have struggled to get anything with an installed battery, or sometimes just because you could install a battery in it, delivered to us since the post office marks stuff like that as hazardous. (They can put it in their trucks along with all the "benign" letters and packages, they can receive it at the local post office sorting room to be divi'ed up and handed off to a letter-carrier to be crammed into the confines of their overstuffed vehicle along with all the rest of the mail for delivery along their route, but it "can't" be shelved for pickup at the service counter.)

To add just a little more spice to the situation, drivers licenses and credit cards have to have a street address associated with them, even if it "doesn't exist", which is a pain since we have to make sure they don't send renewals and credit card documents to the "address of record".

I've even had stuff delivered to my brother's place some 1300 miles away because it was too big for the USPS to handle and the only other option was FedEx who would always just return our shit to the sender rather than admit we existed.

We did try once again many years ago when we heard the original postmaster got moved to a new location, but the new postmaster wasn't any more willing to accept our official document.

Then one recent day as I was coming back from a post office run along the winding county roads, (In addition to the usual wild-life, I've had to stop at various times and herd a gaggle of domestic turkeys, a goat, a grumpy bull, and two small herds of cows off the road.) I saw a Prime truck trundling down the rutted lane of a ranch not more than two miles from our place.

Hot Damn! The Amazon fleet has made it out to our area!

The next Prime eligible thing I ordered off Amazon I had shipped, with some excitement, to our official/un-official street address.

Because we normally keep the gate closed, and this was, at best an experiment, I watched the tracking info carefully so I could make sure the gate was open when the driver came along.

I watched that package leave some east-coast distribution point, show up at a centralized air hub and be sent on out again, turn up at a regional hub and then go back out the door on a truck. I kept checking, expecting to see an "out for delivery" update, but what I saw instead was that at 0632 Prime handed it off to the "local post office" for final delivery.

Oh Crap!

The USPS letter carrier comes past our place about mid-day but I didn't have to wait that long to see what was going to happen because by 0900 tracking showed my package listed as "undeliverable"

Not expecting to be successful but willing to try anyway, I made sure I had my ID in pocket, the tracking info in hand, and on a whim, I also opened the safe and grabbed a couple copies of our official address document, before heading on over to where my package was languishing in the limbo of the unaddressed.

Well it turns out the local post office is now on its third postmaster and when I explained to her about my package she remembered seeing it in the back and handed it over with no problem. I then explained why our address doesn't show up on their books and she said "no problem, just let me get you to fill out a form". I pulled out my official document and she put the form back down, took mine and said "this is all I need. When you get your mailbox put up just fill out this postcard, put it in the box with the flag up and you are good to go."

And we were! A decade and a half of being nobodies and it was that easy!

It could be that, unlike the previous two, middle-aged male postmasters, the current postmaster couldn't resist my good looks and charm, but, given that I don't have either - looks or charm - I think it's far more likely that men, especially petty men with Napoleon complexes, just suck.

When I got home with my wayward package I pulled the old mailbox off the high shelf where it has wasted away for the past 16 years, dusted it off, tracked down some fresh stainless steel screws and, since we had never removed the post, just the box, had our mailbox installed within the hour.

I know it probably sounds silly to the properly mailed,

but there's something very satisfying, and exiting, about actually getting mail up at the end of the driveway! About going into our Amazon account and making our street address the default ship-to address. (Amazon continues to hand packages off to the post office even though I just saw another Prime truck turn down yet another nearby ranch entrance the other day.) About gradually changing our address over with various entities and seeing stuff show up at the end of the driveway instead of 17 miles away in a small box with a sticky lock. (Since it's paid for for quite some time yet we'll keep the PO Box for a while so there's no rush to get it all done right away.)

It's hard to explain, but there's such a feeling of lightness and well-being associated with being able to walk up to the end of the drive (OK, it's a bit of an uphill hike so The Wife actually drives) and collect our mail like normal people.

On top of that, now we can send mail out by simply walking up to the end of the driveway and flipping the flag up.

¡!How cool is that?¡!

Using some concrete blocks I had laying around, a wood stand left over from other projects, a sawed off fence rail, a little bit of paint, and a new deck box,  

we have also installed a package-drop box near the gate.

We are officially somebody now!!


  1. We also started out with a male postmaster/dictator. The nice female is a marked improvement. Our’s offered to bend the rules on the limits of 30 day mail holds for an upcoming trip.

    1. Yep, despite the efforts of No-Joy DeJoy there are some good people in the organization.

  2. The world would've ended EONS ago were it not for WOMEN!!

    1. The world would be a much kinder and gentler place if we could just turn down the damn testosterone levels!

  3. The proof of the pudding'll be next 4th of July. The rural Tennesseeans thought it great fun to put cherry bombs in everyones' mailboxes.

    1. That or bashing them with bats has been a sporadic issue in the past but I think the proliferation of gameboys has cut down on actual vandalistic excursions.

  4. What materials are the pkg box? I've never seen a "deck box" like that.

    1. Some sort of roto-molded plastic. I know, the devil's material but we have three of them constantly exposed to the elements on our recycling trailer that are 20 years old and still going strong.

  5. What a story. Glad it worked out.

    1. Us too. It's sooo nice to get mail at the end of the driveway!

  6. Haha, you always make me laugh. But congratulations! You there in America, i here in Canada, i should one day post my story with mail issues. In my case women were involved in what i call stupidity. I rather like to think that as a society (men and women) we have come to the pinnacle of... call it bureaucracy maybe, and are evolving towards a more common sense society.

    1. Glad to be of service.

      As for pinnacles and such, I try to be a positive person, but I'm not sure the human race and common sense are even on the same planet anymore.

  7. Greg, hope that the small loss of anonymity for the sake of convenience isn't keeping you up at night...but for some of us, you were always somebody, mailbox or not;-)

    1. Is that really you John? It's been a long time!

      Not sure I want to be somebody. Kinda nice being a nobody.

    2. Yup, its me, love following your anonymous adventures - still in the industry, just different place now....much better....keep ramblin and well keep living vicariously through your adventures until we can do the same!

    3. Glad to be of service. Also glad to hear you're still around and things are going well.