Franklin / Nashville BasicsTravel

Now I Know How Things Get ‘Lost In The Mail’!

Yesterday, when I arrived home from work, I noticed the mailman driving around the neighborhood in his truck.

No, not your typical U.S. Postal truck… this one was a little Chevy pickup truck — and the entire truck bed was overflowing (literally!) with boxes and presents that he was delivering to all of the neighbors.

So much so, that I chuckled when I noticed that he was battling with a slight case of “overfill” as I passed him — each time he tried to inch forward to the next house, another box would fall off the back of his truck. I figured he had it all under control, and simply made a mental note of “the poor guy”.

I quickly ran in the house to fetch my camera, because I wanted a picture of the mail being delivered via pickup truck. I thought it would be fun to capture something along the lines of: “Christmas In My Neighborhood” or “A Sign Of The Times” — with the mailman driving around like Santa in a pickup truck full of presents!

By the time I ran out of the house with my camera, the mailman (who was really just a 20-something-year-old kid) had just rounded our corner. But one thing struck me as peculiar: Behind him was a confetti stream of white paper littering our street!

That’s right… he had lost his load. Thankfully, it was just one plastic mail bin of stamped letters, bills, and cards that he (for reasons unbeknownst to me) had placed in the bed of his truck to ride along with the all the unbalanced heap of boxes filled with wrapped presents. Now, anyone in their right mind would have known to put a bin filled with LOOSE paper goods INSIDE the cab of your truck on a windy night, right?! (My guess is, he didn’t have enough room inside that two-seater of a truck cab, since it was filled with all of the pre-sorted mail that he had to DELIVER on this day.) I just kept thinking… “poor guy”.)

The bin that was responsible for littering my street was filled with OUTGOING mail for the Post Office to cancel, sort, and deliver after he finished his route on this evening. I knew this to be true, because I (and 3 other teenagers in the neighborhood) volunteered to help him pick it all up! In our cold hands (Did I mention that it was a blistery winter evening with temperatures in the teens and strong winds?!) we gathered up electric company bills, Christmas cards to family & friends, rebate forms, and more.

The real horror came when we noticed that the wind kept blowing more and more pieces of mail into the metal-grate covered drainage ditch at the corner of the street! The mailman didn’t seem bothered by this. He was too busy talking on his cell phone complaining about how “it’s freezing outside, this sucks”, and “you won’t believe what just happened to me”, and how he wouldn’t be “done ’til around 9 o’clock tonight now”. After we, the volunteers, had finished picking up all his mail, he did manage to pull his mouth away from the phone just quick enough to muster a “Thanks” to me as I walked past him.

But wait, it gets better!…

Since I was still waiting for the perfect angle to take my picture of my mailman’s truck filled with boxes, I sat on the step of our porch and watched as packages continued to fall off the back of his truck at least 4 more times between stops at different houses.

And, better yet, about 10 minutes later, as Jim and I were driving through the neighborhood on our way out for dinner, we noticed him a couple of streets away — STILL chatting away on his cell phone, and STILL dumping boxes here and there. And, it appeared that a couple boxes were still in the MIDDLE of the street from a few stops back! (We noticed those neighbors were out examining the situation themselves.)

All I’ve got to say is this:

1. Are we sure we can trust the holiday help that the U.S. Post Office has hired? Granted, this could just be an isolated incident. Or, maybe he’s just a victim of circumstance — and the truck he was delivering the mail in simply couldn’t accommodate the massive load of packages and letters he had to carry on this day. Which begs the question: Who approved the vehicle?

2. How is it that we can live in such a quaint, clean, historical little town called Franklin, Tennessee, and yet we’ve never had a mailman wearing “official clothing” or driving an “official vehicle” in our neighborhood? It’s as if we live way out on some rural route in the boonies or something, when, in fact, we live next to 1 major school, 1 major city park, and we’re surrounded by $400,000+ housing developments!

Based on what I’ve seen AND the fact that there’s nothing “official” going on around here, I can’t help but wonder if the residents in my neighborhood are receiving the same benefits and services as people in Nashville are? What about in other parts of Franklin even? I just don’t understand the reason for such obvious differences.

More importantly, based on yesterday’s little episode, can we really trust that the mail we’re sending out on a daily basis is actually getting there??? If you mailed something from MY neighborhood on the night of December 20th, you can’t!

The mail of a handful of unlucky residents will likely NEVER reach its intended destination… That is, unless it was addressed to “the bottom of the drainage ditch” at the corner of my street.

UPDATE: The day after this incident, I felt obligated to inform the local Post Office. (I didn’t want to find out later that something could’ve been done to gather up the mail in the drainage ditch if only I’d have let them know earlier or something.)

The supervisor, while friendly and interested in what had happened, offered no explanation or plan of attack for saving the ditched mail. I just wish there was some way to inform my neighbors that they might be receiving a late charge on their next credit card bill — through no fault of their own.

The supervisor did have an explanation for why we don’t have mailmen dressed in “official” clothing and driving “official” vehicles… It’s a due to the various Union groups in the area. She said there are 69 different mail routes in Franklin, of which 14 of them are considered “city routes” and are serviced with official U.S. Post Office equipment, while the remaining 55 are considered “rural routes” which are contracted out — and the workers provide their own vehicles.