This year the post office expects to deliver 16 billion pieces of mail to customers around the globe – 16 billion. I can’t even begin to imagine how many trips to the moon and back that would be, if you laid all those envelopes end-to-end. However, what I always seem to be thinking about at this time of year is how to make things easier for my friends working the counter at my local PO.
As a mail artist, I send a lot of wacky things through the mail – that’s not a surprise. I have no doubt whatsoever that the folks behind the counter can spot my postal precociousness when sorting and sifting through parcels in the backroom. Even though they may not “get it”, the post office staff are patient, tolerant, and (at times) encouraging about the things I have brought to them throughout the year.
Since things really shift into high gear for the PO at this time of year (remember: 16 billion!), I like to make it as easy as possible for my mail to make it to its final destination. A few important things to keep in mind:
- be sure to write legibly! This seems like a no-brainer, right?
- double check addressee zip codes and make sure they’re correct.
- be sure to include a return address on your outgoing mail. That way, if it is somehow undeliverable, the PO can return it to you.
I know, I know: it seems like I’m stating the obvious. But this time of year (more than any other), it’s good to be reminded that other people are looking at and handling your postal creations. These are hard working folks you will never meet and who, if the machines at postal processing plants cannot translate your chicken scratched address label, will turn to Plan B. “Plan B” usually means A) “return to sender” or B) a stopover at the Dead Letter Office (in today’s parlance, DLOs are called “Mail Recovery Centers”, but Dead Letter Office is just more poetic, somehow…
So, at the end of this funny ramble, what is the takeaway? The USPS will oftentimes go out of its way to deliver the crazy items that we test their systems with. That’s part of the fun as a mail artist, right? The challenge of “will it make it?” The thrill of “is it there yet?” The holiday season is no reason to set aside our mail art activities – if anything, all of you RLD readers should step up your game a bit! But be sure that your writing is tidy, your zip codes are correct, and a return address is placed somewhere on your missive. Otherwise, your wish list might not make it to S. Claus, c/o the North Pole!
—final shipping dates for the USPS, if you want you gift/card to make it there by Dec. 25th
–a little bit of history about the USPS “Letters to Santa” program
–info about Dead Letter Office (the entity), as opposed to “Dead Letter Office” the R.E.M album