Tag Archives: us postal service

Lame Adventure 352: Welcome Home New York City-style

I returned to New York from my holiday getaway in the San Francisco Bay Area on the red eye Friday morning.  Lack of sleep and total body pain that I self diagnosed as arthritis in my left knee, a pulled muscle in my right arm, and a slight headache combined with general suffering, a.k.a. the predominant ingredient in my charm, rendered me useless for the entirety of my first day back in the Apple.  I’d like to say that I slept dreamlessly, but it’s possible that I was merely hallucinating for twelve hours about lying motionless in a full body splint.  Before losing consciousness I did manage to run a few errands including shopping at my neighborhood market, Fairway.  I knew I was officially home when I approached the green bean stand.  Just as I was about to select my beans, a woman yammering on her iPhone placed her coffee cup over them.

Me:  Really?

The Yammerer responded with a line of classic New York City verse:

Yammerer:  What’s your problem?

The weather forecast for today is two to four inches of snow.  The New York Times published on their Cityroom Blog a post with a headline proclaiming, “Tomorrow, It Will Snow, Perfectly”.  Andy Newman wrote:

“The ideal city snowstorm, meteorological Platonists say, blankets the landscape without burying it, beautifies but does not burden, transforms and cocoons without paralyzing or even particularly inconveniencing.

Such an event is expected to come our way on Saturday.”

Tomorrow is now today, Saturday.  I’m not a “meteorological Platonist” – whatever the hell that is, but I can say with authority that it’s been a steady mix of slushy flakes and cold rain.  This scene surely would have made the Currier and Ives circular file.

I woke remembering that yesterday I had forgotten to pay a bill for my final blood test of the year.  If my memory is still as sharp as melted butter, that test was to determine that it’s more than ice water and soot flowing through my veins.  I used my last Forever stamp on the payment envelope and decided to trek through the icy slop to Ansonia Station, my local post office here on the Upper West Side, to both mail the aforementioned payment and to replenish my Forever stamps.

There was only one customer in line, a guy that had entered a nano-second before me.  Three postal clerks were servicing other customers, but a fourth was free so she called the guy over.  Now it was just me waiting.  Within seconds, a customer at the window nearest to where I was standing finished and walked away.  The clerk looked right at me.  I looked at her hopeful, and flashed a friendly California-style smile anticipating her to say, “Next.”  Instead, she walked away.  I looked at my watch and realized that I am such a knucklehead.  Obviously the time had come for her to take her one forty-three in the afternoon break.  I waited and waited.  All of the customers at the windows were like barnacles.  Finally, a clerk beckoned.  Now about ten people were waiting behind me in line.  I told the clerk that I would like twenty Forever stamps:

Me:  Do you have any with pictures other than the flag?

She took out a booklet of holiday stamps decorated with Christmas trees.

Me: Do you have anything else?

She looked at me as if I had asked her to give me a kidney.  She snarled in my face:

Postal Clerk:  Look over there.

Me:  Where’s “there”?

She gestured to her left, my right.  Under a glass covering a station over from hers was an assortment of Forever stamp designs.

Me:  Am I going to lose my place as I look for my stamp?

She did not acknowledge my question, possibly because hostility is so energy depleting.  I figured she’d grant me a three count to settle on a stamp so I looked at the display at warp-speed.  A series tailor-made for me called “Great Film Directors” caught my eye.

I resisted asking if I could have all Billy Wilder since he's one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.

I resisted asking if I could have all Billy Wilder since he’s one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.

I returned to the angry clerk’s window and told her what I had selected.  She said nothing.  She walked away as if she had boulders strapped on each ankle.  Her destination was a closed box that holds the picture stamps.  She returned with my sheet of Great Film Directors and announced:

Postal Clerk:  Nine dollars.

I handed her a twenty.  She gave me my change.  Eleven singles.

Me:  Thank you.

She gave me the stink eye.  I added:

Me:  For not giving me 220 nickels.

It’s great to be home.

Lame Adventure 293: Missing Magazine Crusader

Most days at work I collect the mail in the first floor in-basket.  Most of the mail is addressed to my boss, Elsbeth.  A week or two ago I noticed the April issue of Harper’s magazine in our in-basket.

April issue of Harper's magazine.

It was not addressed to Elsbeth but I figured that Stu, her husband and the company founder, put it there intentionally.  It’s not my style to question what motivates him to do what he does as I am sure he welcomes my indifference.  Yet, had he left a live hand grenade in our in-basket I still might not have questioned Stu himself, but I would have been compelled to ask one of his Yes Men about that along with enforcing a dictate of my own:

Me:  One of you guys bring that up to her.

When I would reach my office wearing my Minister of Watch Dogging chapeau, I would go straight to my Lord and Master yapping:

Me:  Hey Elsbeth, one of Stu’s Yes Men is coming up here with a live hand grenade for us.  Do we really want that on our floor?

Questions like that to my superior either emit a twenty second long sigh of extreme annoyance or a short, sharp outburst:

Elsbeth:  No!

Apparently, the April issue of Harper’s that was passed onto her was not intended for us. Almost two weeks after I retrieve it Elsbeth asks me:

Elsbeth:  Would you like this issue of Harper’s?

I avert my gaze from the pigeon on the sill that appears to be mocking me and turn my attention to my chief.

Ha, ha, ha, I'm outside in the sun and you're behind bars!

Elsbeth:  The letter carrier delivered it to us by mistake.

The alarm bells ring in my head.

Me:  Sure.

Elsbeth hands me the magazine and returns to her office, satisfied that I accept her offering but I have a hidden agenda.  I look at the address label.  It was meant for a guy named David who resides two doors down from my company.  Every so often, the magazines I subscribe to, all with New York in the title – The New Yorker, New York Magazine and Time Out New York, go missing.  I have called my post office about this and complained.  As they insist that I did receive my issue of New York, I have to remind them that I want to know what happened to my missing copy of The New Yorker.  I have also directly confronted my letter carrier, a very nice woman when encountered face to face, but a side of me wonders if she would love to posit this question to my kisser:

My Very Nice Letter Carrier:  You crazy bitch, why the hell do you have to subscribe to every fuckin’ magazine in the world with New York in the title?

Yet, my letter carrier has made a better effort to deliver my magazines in recent months, but when an issue does go missing, if she happens to stick it in the wrong mailbox, does the neighbor that gets it keep it?  If so, I think that exploiting her mistake for personal gain is theft.  Therefore, I cannot in good conscience keep David’s issue of Harper’s.  If I can return his magazine to him, maybe someone that gets one of my misdelivered magazines will finally do a first in my building, in the almost 30 years I’ve resided there, grow a solitary brain cell of consideration and return it to me, the rightful owner.  The cynic in me, that coincidentally happens to be about 98% of my person, thinks I will sooner be the lynchpin that brokers peace in the Middle East on my lunch hour before that ever happens.

Back to David, I don my Detective Cap, type his name and address in Google, hit the enter key, and voila, I discover his email address.

I share the situation with my Special Someone.

SS: Give it back to your mail carrier.  Let them deal with it.

Me: Trust the incompetent mail carrier that caused this crisis?  I’d sooner give it to the Taliban.  Of course, those Neanderthals would probably use it as kindling.

I send David an email:

Hi David,

It appears that your April edition of Harper’s was misdelivered to [my company] a few doors away from you at [censored] Street.  Please let me know if you would like me to leave it with our front counter so you can pick it up?  I’ll put a post-it on it so people know that you’re coming to get it.

Eleven minutes later David emails me from his iPhone:

That’s very kind of you. Yes. Please leave it at the counter.

That evening, as I depart for the day, I notice that David’s issue of Harper’s is gone.  Hopefully, he had picked it up and I will not find it has boomeranged back into Elsbeth’s in-basket come Monday.  Hey, I want to accrue a few magazine subscription good karma points.

Portrait of a good week in Lame Adventures-land -- every magazine delivered!

Lame Adventure 230: The Agony of Intellectual Ecstasy

I have been subscribing to The New Yorker for exactly half my life, specifically for over 1,200 issues.  It normally arrives in my mailbox on Monday, but there are times when it’s delivered on Tuesday.  If I don’t see it by Tuesday, I go completely out of what’s left of my mind.  Even though I can access it digitally, since I only have a dumb phone and I don’t have a PDA, I’d have to print the stories I want to read and that’s a hassle.   Also, I like to flip through the pages.

Every Monday, The New Yorker emails me a link to that week’s issue, along with headlines about the stories.

New Yorker headline news.

This Monday they notified me that several of my favorite writers are being featured in this issue.

Ariel Levy, a journalist that is brilliant, babelicious and bats on my team, has written about the sexual revolution. This excites me almost as much as getting laid — if I did not already have a date with my TV to watch the US Open Men’s Tennis Final.

Ariel Levy interviewing Alec Baldwin at The New Yorker Festival in 2010.

My favorite short story writer, Alice Munro, has written a memoir piece, Patricia Marx, an excellent humorist, has taken on Shouts & Murmurs.  There’s a Roz Chast Sketchbook called “Walkabout”, Gay Talese investigates Tony Bennett collaborating with Lady Gaga, Art Spiegelman has an Artist’s Sketchbook called “Crossroads”, Michael Schulman covers playwright Katori Hall, and last but not least, the fiction is by Ann Beattie.

Could this be the best issue of The New Yorker ever?  Probably not, but it’s an issue I will likely read cover to cover.  As soon as the tennis match is over, even though my guy, Rafael Nadal, loses, I will have this Christmas in September issue of that magazine to provide solace and to distract me from my mental anguish.  There is one glitch.

When I open my mailbox, my magazine is missing.

On Tuesday, I half-heartedly suggest to my pal, Coco, that we get a drink after work.  Half-heartedly since the delivery of my magazine is possessing 98% of my thoughts.  Fortunately my gym rat friend has other plans.  She later texts me:

Coco’s text:  I ran 9 miles and lifted weights.

I up the dosage on my morphine drip and text back:

My text back:  Jesus, did u circle the entire island? After that epic workout did u quaff 2 martinis & call that home cooking?

Coco ignores my questions, counts to 100 and changes the subject; her tolerant way of telling me to go fuck myself.

I am in a foul mood after discovering that my magazine has not been delivered on this second day.  If I don’t see it by Tuesday, odds are good that I will never see it.  I have the sinking feeling that my treasured magazine has entered the void.  It occurs to me that it’s possible that my letter carrier deposited it in another tenant’s mailbox.  This makes me brood.  I wonder if that tenant made my loss his or her gain?  This makes me seethe.

Me: For the love of David Remnick, do something!

I force myself to do the unthinkable, wake early on Wednesday and call my post office, Ansonia Station, to lodge a complaint.  Bill, the supervisor, puts me through to my letter carrier, a very defensive woman who insists that she “always delivers” my magazine.

Me:  I’m sure you do always deliver my magazine, but can you say with 100% certainty that you put it in my mailbox this week?

She has no response and hands the phone back to Bill.  He also insists that I must have received my magazine adding:

Bill:  How can you prove that your letter carrier didn’t deliver it?

Me:  I didn’t get it so that’s a pretty good indication that it wasn’t delivered – at least to me.

Bill:  Are you sure though?

Me:  Am I sure of what?  It’s 7:57 in the morning.  Are you implying that I’m calling you at this hour about a magazine that I have and this is all some ridiculous game playing on my part?

Bill shifts gears and is now blaming Conde Nast for my missing magazine.

Bill:  Contact the publisher and ask them to send you another one.

Me:  Send me “another one” as if I received my copy of it already?

Since I am fully aware of the US Postal Service’s dire economic reality, I go in for the kill.

Me:  I suppose I could do that and see this week’s issue a month from now.  Maybe what I should really do is invest in an iPad, and just read it electronically.  That way I wouldn’t have to rely on the Postal Service at all.

Bill:  Hold on.

Bill puts me on hold probably to chew a Rolaid.

Bill:  I just saw that we still have some copies of New York here.

Me:  I got my copy of New York on Monday; I didn’t get my New Yorker.

I resist adding that I also subscribe to Time Out New York – since that might give the impression that I have a fetish for periodicals with New York in the title.

Bill:  I meant to say The New Yorker.

Me (intrigued):  Really?  Is there one with my name on it?

Bill:  I don’t know, but we do have some copies of it here.  I’ll see what I can do.  I can’t guarantee anything.

Since there is still the possibility that my letter carrier had simply placed it in the wrong mailbox, I pound out a letter to my fellow tenants as well as my letter carrier.  I ask my fellow tenants if they got it by mistake to please return it me personally, or leave it on top of the radiator cover.  I ask my letter carrier if she sees it on the radiator cover to put it in my mailbox.  I conclude that I am now completely out of the closet about being a loon, and should have myself fitted for a straitjacket.  I dread the idea that some douche bag or baguette might write something profane on my note.

A lunatic's plea.

When I come home, there is a message scrawled on my note by my letter carrier:

“It just arrive today.”

I open my mailbox and I have both my copy of The New Yorker as well as Time Out New York.  Inside the jukebox in my head, Edwin Hawkins is crooning the Gospel classic, “Oh Happy Day”.

Possibly, the happy ending to this debacle is the highlight of my year.  I lower my morphine drip and start reading.