CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Kafka at the Post Office

Off topic here, I know, but just briefly: At my local Post Office on Friday, the one with the reliably epic lines and the smudged plexiglass bulletproof windows (through which you struggle to hear the clerk), a woman ahead of me purchased a $25 money order, which evidently needed to be mailed to the state court system by a certain date to avoid some kind of fine.

So she requested that the clerk postmark the letter, to prove that she had dropped it off that day. “We don’t do postmarks,” the clerk said. I did a mental double-take. Don’t do postmarks? What’s the Post Office for? You can get insurance, delivery confirmation, tracking — but you can’t a postmark? The woman was as perplexed as I was. It seemed the letters were postmarked at a different facility. There may be logic in this, but how difficult would it to be to stamp the odd letter or two when so requested?

“You need to get a ‘Certificate of Mailing,’ ” the clerk said. “It’s $1.50.”

A small sum, perhaps, though probably not to the woman ahead of me.

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This entry was posted on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 9:02 am and is filed under Etc.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Kafka at the Post Office”

  1. Charlie Parker Says:

    Don’t forget the bulletproof glass is their for YOUR protection.

    As for the postmark, that’s odd. How did the clerk attach postage? Surely they didn’t put on a normal stamp.

  2. Erik Says:

    The postmark probably gets stamped on by a sorting machine which is not in the local post office but instead in the nearest distribution center. I know when my parents mail stuff from the post office (in their very small town), the postmark always ends up saying a bigger town about 20 miles away.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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