A Letter Carrier Makes A Mistake

It was five days of angst that resulted in well over one-hundred dollars in late charges and five-hours irretrievably lost. I wanted to dance the piss and moan with a flourish of ranting. 

Like many folks, we live paycheck to paycheck. My wife's first check in her new job was supposed to arrive by post with subsequent checks direct-deposited. On her payday, I waited at home for her check so that I could deposit it promptly. 

I heard the mail boxes in our apartment building clanging and ran downstairs. No check. In fact there was no mail whatsoever. Well, mail service is not perfect. It could conceivably take two days to get from one part of Portland to another part of Portland.

I waited dutifully at home on Saturday. Still no mail. None. There wasn't even any junk mail. 

I had a nagging feeling that our mail was being forwarded to our new apartment early, so, I called our local post office in North Portland. The man I spoke with was very helpful. He checked and the order for forwarding was correctly dated. He found no indication that it had been forwarded. I phoned Maggie, my wife, who was at work. I asked her to check our post office box in the new town. Just in case.

She checked. No mail.

A weekend without our primary source of income became Monday. Monday was my wife's day off so we both waited at home. 

Finally, something in the mailbox. My tiny paycheck was there but not the important check. Well, my hundred bucks did mean we could buy a few groceries.

I spent the morning on the telephone to creditors begging them to be patient. We promised to pay them as soon as her paycheck arrived. 

Maggie spent the morning talking to her employer. Had the check been mailed to the correct address? When was it mailed? All was in order. When could we get a replacement check? Not until Wednesday. 

Well, maybe it was at our new address having been in Saturday's mail.

We considered driving out to the new apartment but realized that it was after two o'clock. Depositing it on Monday would be no better than Tuesday anyway. Bankers hours, you know. Besides, the extra 130 mile round trip would deplete the gas in our car with no guarantee of success.

No check at the old or new address. My wife took time away from her work to deal with the issue. She would have to call Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. She -- no one else -- could pick up the check in Portland at the main office at 3 p.m. Never mind that she worked at another site sixty-five miles away. Eventually, she found a way to get permission for me to pick up the re-issued check on Wednesday.

Because she had our only car with her, 65-miles from home, I used public transit to pick up her check. I spent an hour and a quarter getting to the main office to pick up her check. I spent an hour and a quarter returning home.

Relieved to have the check finally, we treated ourselves to a meal out that evening.

The original check arrived. (Are we surprised?)

The original check and many other items of mail arrived with bright yellow stickers, "Forward order expired. Deliver to old address." Alarmed that our mail might now not be forwarded, I called the local post office again. I spoke to the same man I'd spoken to on Saturday. The forward order was indeed in place.

Our carrier had sent our mail -- including that crucial pay check -- to the forwarding office on Friday and Saturday. When the forwarding office received it, they sent it back because it was too soon. That is why we received no mail on those days.

A Choice
It was at this point that I had a choice. 

It was five days of angst that resulted in well over one-hundred dollars in late charges and five-hours irretrievably lost. I wanted to dance the piss and moan with a flourish of ranting. 

Similar situations in the past, I would've ranted at the man at my local post office. There are times when I would've screamed. I would've told him that I wanted a formal apology, that the carrier was responsible for my late charges, that I'd be filing a formal complaint. Had I gone down that path, I would've been the one who was miserable. 

Instead, I chose to accept that one man made a mistake. I chose to forgive him for misreading and sending my mail to the forwarding office too soon. 

I offered him grace for his human imperfections just as God offers me grace, loving me unconditionally despite my mistakes.

Gracelessly, Still Out Over $100
I am a follower of Jesus. My response was an outgrowth of my faith and spiritual journey. My creditors are not followers of Jesus -- they are corporations -- and were unwilling to give me grace on late charges. Remember this the next time someone narrowly defines the United States as a "Christian nation." 

A nation and economic system that is Christian would look very different than America of the 21st Century. A nation based upon the teachings of the Jesus would be filled with people who were striving to forgive, to love unconditionally, and to extravagantly share resources so that all would have enough. 

Our culture would, though filled with imperfect people, reject hatred, tirelessly seek to end oppression of anyone, recognize the Divine spark in everyone of regardless of no-faith or faith tradition. 

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