Post office’s apology about mangling letter goes on for a while

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

The letter arrived in a plastic bag with a lot of writing on it in English and Spanish. Inside was a torn-up check. It looked like someone dropped it in water and then stepped on it a few times.

This has happened to my mail before; each time the mangled item was delivered in a plastic wrapper with an apology note printed on it. I had never read them until now.

“We sincerely regret the damage to your mail during handling by the Postal Service,” it starts out.
That’s not too bad. It’s a nice, diplomatic apology, so let’s leave it at that. The letter is here, and that’s what counts. Case closed, right?

“We hope this incident did not inconvenience you,” read the next sentence.

Not exactly, but thanks for checking. Inconveniencing me would have taken something like losing the letter and never delivering it, or delivering it two weeks later when the material inside is time-sensitive. So, no biggie. I got it.

“We realize that your mail is important to you, and that you have every right to expect it to be delivered in good condition.”

This reminds me of a sales man who would not stop selling me a product even after I bought it. Enough already. It is the greatest product in the world, and I just bought it. All I want to do now is get out of here, with my new product.

Of course the mail is important to me, especially if the envelope contains a check. If it were just a letter from a friend, then that would be important, but not as important as the check. But the chances of the Postal Service mangling a letter from a friend is about zero. Those are now zapped back and forth on the Internet.

I cannot even remember the last time I wrote a letter to a friend or family member. Even when I communicate with cousins in the old country, we use Facebook so we can zap photos back and forth halfway around the world instantly.

The next line is a little longer.

“Although every effort is made to prevent damage to the mail, occasionally this will occur because of the great volume handled and rapid processing methods which must be employed to assure the most expeditious distribution possible.”

Sounds to me like a bureaucrat at USPS didn’t have anything to do all day but put this sentence carefully together. What it means is that the machine ate the letter.

In my case, the letter then fell on the floor, where it lay unnoticed while postal employees walked around the processing room. One of them then decided to bend down to get it, and that’s probably how my check was rescued.

We can stop right here with the apology. I forgive you, already. I got the letter, and the check is still useable. Who cares about “processing methods” and “expeditious distribution”?

The next line could be interpreted several ways.

“We hope you understand.”

I do understand. You’re begging for forgiveness and apologizing profusely, not that it is necessary. The post office must have some sort of inferiority complex. That’s how it sounds. But, with Congress hammering it, and the private sector delivery services chomping at the bits to take a bigger piece of the pie, that is understandable.

“We assure you that we are constantly striving to improve our processing methods in order that even a rare occurrence may be eliminated.”

Enough already. I have already forgiven you guys. I like the post office. I know some of the people who work there. They are hard-working, good people. Note to Postmaster: Put some oil on those machines.
“Please accept our apologies,” read the very last line.

Notice that it said “apologies.” That’s because there are enough apologies included on this wrapper to cover the next three mangled letters.

Here is what I would have written.

“Sorry we chewed this one up. Enclosed please find a free First Class stamp. Your next letter is on us. Sorry again.”

Done. Everybody likes free stuff.

Good thing I didn’t throw away that piece of plastic. I would have had to write about something else, like the weather.