Return to Sender

by Penny M
At the risk of ruffling the worms under Elvis’s granite slab, I have a confession.The longer I remain in our complex of six residential units and ten rented shops, the less room there is in the communal post box. I remember being shocked when a neighbour divulged that he regularly disposed of mail addressed to previous residents.

I have lost count of the number of visits I have made to the local post office, laden with armfuls of letters and registered slips which don’t belong to any of us. I dutifully re-address them or write ‘RTS – Moved, Forwarding Address Unknown, or simply Unknown at this Address’. Imagine my frustration when another batch arrives from the same senders, in crisp, fresh envelopes. Are they trying to keep the post office in business or what? I resorted to adding, ‘Please correct your records’.

Two months ago, I happened to be walking downstairs when I spotted the well sprung gait of the postman. I handed him a mound of returns. He happily accepted them. Perhaps he’s in on this job creation thing.

I remember being told, as a young girl, that post is private and to be opened by the addressee only. Well, sorry Mum, but I caved. In desperation, I opened two of the regulars. I sent a polite email to each sender, worded as follows:

‘Please note that your client has left … without leaving a forwarding address.

Please do not send any more mail to that address and adjust your records accordingly.


I had a reply from each. The first recipient acknowledged receipt and promised to amend their records. The second correspondent assumed that I was their customer and requested I use the Client code to enable them to access my account and make the necessary changes. I drew the line at that.

Most of those who have regular missives from financial institutions have done a ‘moonlight flit’ and left a stream of unpaid accounts. Registered slips appear to reprimand them and lie forlornly in the wooden box, hidden by all the larger stuff. There was even a summons delivered by the Sheriff. I thought they were supposed to serve those in person.

Besides the amount of trees that are being wasted, consider the hours of my life spent re-addressing envelopes and the petrol bill for visits to the Returns box. Unless the post is addressed to me, and is not from St. Valentine or Santa, I have resigned myself to the ‘File Thirteen’ solution, it’s much cheaper.

Be warned all you ‘Presleys’ out there, unless you do something about your returns, you’ll be pushing up daisies in a pauper’s graveyard.


Photo courtesy of Anankkml at

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