Grumble, Grumble, Grumble.
I spent the summer of 1954 in Germany on an American Field Service program, living with the Handschuh family in Schweinfurt. Every couple of days after breakfast, Frau Handschuh would have a 2nd cup of coffee and make out a grocery list. When she finished, she would put her list in a stamped envelope, walk to the corner, and drop it in the mailbox. Without fail, her groceries would be delivered that same afternoon before three o’clock.
* * *
On December 10th—just over a month ago—I received some advance copies of my new book, Travel Tales. The next day, I mailed books to several people, including five who had been kind enough to say nice things about the book. We used their quotes to promote the book and, in fact, shortened versions appear on the back cover.
Books to those five people went into the mail on December 12th. Three of them had U.S. addresses, one went to Canada and the last one was to the U.K.
The guy in Texas got his book three days later. The book sent to Vermont finally arrived three days ago. My Canadian friend got his yesterday. But as of today (This was written on December 12th), the other two packages—sent to up-State New York and to London in the U.K.—still had not been delivered.
I know, I know. It’s apples and oranges to compare a 60-year old European postal system with the U.S. Postal Service, circa 2021. But of the three books going to U.S. addresses in Texas, New York State and Vermont, one got there in 3 days, one in 25 days, and one is still somewhere on the way. Each of those books went out of here in a padded envelope (for which the Post Office charged me $1.45) and with $5.45 in postage on it.
Is there a point to all this? Not really. I do think it’s interesting that my frustration with the U.S. Postal Service somehow brought up the memory of Frau Handschuh. Which part of that is more interesting? That she mailed her grocery list? Or that the grocery store filled here order and delivered it the same day?
I think that’s a toss-up.