Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So, get this...

I went to the U.S. Post Office yesterday to mail a couple of packages; one was  big box of hand-me-downs for my niece in Georgia, the other was a care package to my son, Kevin, in Minnesota.  The two packages, together, cost about $50 to send, and, don't get me wrong, though it was a kinda "ouch" on the budget, it was well worth it, especially since they were two cases of bringing the mountain to Mohammed, so to speak.  But, here's the weird thing:  when the clerk asked me if there was anything liquid, fragil, or hazardous in either box, she also asked if either contained correspondence.  Huh? Nobody has ever asked me this before, so I was taken aback.  (I don't know if this is something new or if  most clerks just don't ask...) In my surprise, I think I looked at her blankly for a minute before I said, "Well... of course they do."

"That means I have to add the cost of two first class stamps to the final amount," she said.

"You're joking,"  I said.

"Nope," she said.

"Well, I bet most people just don't tell you the truth, then, do they?"

She thought that over for a moment and said, "They may not.  But it's Post Office policy."

"Seems kinda silly to me, " I said.  "How would they ever know if people lied?"

"They can open packages to see," she said -- to my utter astonishment, I might add.  "Especially Media Mail.  If they open a package just marked 'books'  and find a letter, they'll fine the sender."

Oh. my. gosh.  This just doesn't sound very American to me.  Isn't it in Communist countries that you have to worry about the government opening and reading your mail??  Or, perhaps during times of war when national security may be on the line, they can certainly justify opening mail going to and from troops...  But, how do they justify this?  Is it an excuse to go looking through parcels?

Or is the U.S. Post Office so hard up that it feels it has to add another measley $.88 to a $50.00 transaction?

Anyway, it wasn't the clerk's fault.  She smiled a little apologetically and said, "You're right, though.  A lot of people just slip letters in and then don't declare them.  Thanks for being honest."

"Hmph," I thought.  "I can't tell you how much I'd like to fib about this, it's so stupid!"  But, I said: "Well, even if the Post Office doesn't know I lied,  I'd get caught in the end, anyway."

She looked at me funny like she didn't know what I meant; like she thought maybe I thought that the Post Office Secret Police would come after me...   So I straightened her out.

"God would know,"  I said. 

And, He would...  (I wonder how much Purgatory I'd get for an eighty-eight cent fib?)

I have to adit, though, after paying my extra .88, I started hatching devious plans to outwit the government on this stupid rule.What do you think?  Would it be bearing false witness to write a letter on the inside of the box and tell the clerk that there's no correspondence except what's on the box?  Or if I got an old white t-shirt and "decorated" it with a note or letter? Anyway... ==sigh==   Isn't it stupid to have to have to go to such lengths?

Next time I think I'll just go around the whole problem and go to Fed Ex or UPS with my packages.


Sheila said...

I have been asked this, and I also told the truth. It did seem pretty nit-picky to me. But I have only been asked once, and I mail a lot of things. However, I do think a lot of people cheat on media mail, so I don't blame them for checking that every now and then.

Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

I was asked this recently when I sent some books via media mail. I thought it was just a media mail thing which I can understand. A correspondence is not a book and media mail is just for books but what if I were to write an inscription in the book... would that count? However, in your case, weren't they charging you by weight? So didn't you already pay for the letter's weight? And pay for the stamp? I know they don't weigh much, but still.

Anne said...

I receive a lot of books that we sell in the parish bookstore. The media mail package always contains the books, and the invoice. Is the invoice correspondence? I wonder. I've never heard of this, but then again, I've never been asked about liquid or hazardous contents either.

GrandmaK said...

I fear this this has been the case for some time. Actually, I got caught about 15 years ago, mailing a "care package" to one of my kids. Try not to do that any more! It does seem a bit redundant as we've already spent a great deal on postage already! Cathy

Bia said...

this is very, very strange ... i mail packages all the time and have NEVER been asked about correspondence inside. was she a new employee?

does it count as correspondence if it's a folded piece of paper and not in an envelope.

that's just very, very strange.

MightyMom said...

A) since stamps are a paper tax I guess I can see where the idea comes from


B) I have never been asked that before and find it positively ridiculous!