Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I didn’t plan it this way but it seems as if my whacked-out mailman is becoming a recurring figure in this blog. Before I left for Mexico, I submitted an online request to have my mail held until I returned. The day after I returned I grabbed a plastic bag and hiked over to the post office to collect my mail. A very pleasant woman behind the bullet-proof glass kindly offered to assist in an English that was obviously a work in progress. She asked for my ID and scrutinized it suspiciously. She cheerfully informed me that my street does not exist. She would not believe me when I assured her that not only does the street exist, but that I have lived on it for five years and have had the same letter carrier throughout that time – the whacked-out mailman.
Fortunately a co-worker overheard the conversation and corrected the recently arrived clerk. With a huge smile she announced that she would retrieve my mail and disappeared into the bowels of the building. After a lengthy wait, she returned empty handed. “You have no mail,” she chirped. She seemed delighted. No mail for five weeks? I asked her if that seemed credible.
“No mail,” she bubbled happily. Realizing that further discussion would be futile, my empty bag and I left. I would have to ask the whacked-out mailman what was going on. When I checked my emails later that day there was a message from a company with which I have an account informing me that a first class letter they had sent me had been returned with the notation "Attempted, Not Known, Unable to Forward." Well at least I now had a pretty good idea where all my mail had gone; back to the senders.
Apparently I have disappeared, at least as far as the United States Postal Service is concerned. Consequently I have also disappeared as far as anyone who has mailed me a letter is concerned. The fact that I am still not receiving any mail means that I am continuing to disappear. My first reaction was that I really needed to get this straightened out. But as I considered the situation, I realized that it might not be so bad.
Suppose a collection agency were to send a dunning letter, or the traffic court sends me a parking summons, or I’m selected for jury duty. My mind began to race. Suppose the IRS tries to contact me. I am “not known, unable to forward.” In a world where we are monitored and tracked, where every detail of our lives is logged into databases, where marketers know how much we earn and where we spend it, wouldn’t it be nice to just disappear from the radar screen?
I realize that being an unknown and unforwardable person probably has more disadvantages than it’s worth, but it’s a tantalizing existence to think about. I suppose I will have a chat with the whacked-out mailman – but not today. I want to savor one more day of invisibility.