I usually reserve this rubric, 'Seen in the Neighborhood', for unexpected but pleasing things I stumble on in Bloomingdale. This time, not so much. It's more about things not seen in the neighborhood, such as: your mail, your holiday packages, old-style mailboxes.
The good news is that the USPS has finally -- as of some weeks ago -- gotten around to swapping out most of our pulldown-lidded mailboxes with ones that have thin letter slits instead. The hope is to thwart all the "check fishing" that thieves are doing with glue traps. This way of intercepting checks is not unique to NYC, it's happening in lots of places. But, frankly, I thought the response was not terribly swift.
Putting a letter in the mail is something we all should be able to take for granted, especially in the wealthiest country in the world. In the letter goes, and delivered it gets.
Long gone are the times of multiple daily letter deliveries. And yes, modern technology has supplanted the need for much mail. And yes, too, I recognize that most mail is unwanted. But that's another story.
It boils down to this: when you mail something, you shouldn't have to ask yourself whether it will get there intact or get there at all.
But I think a lot of us are asking.
Just as these new mailboxes appeared, in unrelated incidents neighbors suffered a spate of lobby thefts. The holidays bring nothing if not packages, big and small. UPS, FedEx, USPS are regularly double-parked while drivers dip into buildings with armfuls of boxes. Because the carriers have huge volume to contend at the end of the year, many will resort to dropping your deliveries without a signature, right inside your lobby whether it is attended or not. That can be great if you can't be there to receive your package. But less great if someone slips into your building and gets to your package before you.
And that's what the M.O. seems to have been. At high delivery times, one or several interlopers were working the streets, slipping into vestibules and lobbies and ferrying out packages of all sorts.
This was happening up and down W. 102nd Street. I noticed signs along the south side of W. 102nd Street with a message to the thief in question, blaring that they had him on security cam footage. If you had a package stolen, maybe you'll comment below about where and when it occurred.
The truth is, this goes on all year long, not just at holiday times. So make sure you tell your shippers that you want to sign for your package if you've positively, absolutely got to receive it. If not, you might find yourself in a special limbo where the package tracking system shows it was delivered, the carrier says he or she dropped it off, but you never saw it! Claims have to be made and replacement shipments are not guaranteed.
But wait, there's more. Just last week, neighbor David Olshefski posted the picture below online. It seems that within the Cathedral Station post office on W. 104th Street, there's been an ongoing issue of letters and packages being ripped or cut open with money and goods removed.
David tells me that Danny O'Donnell's office is looking into this trend and has a staff member collecting photos like the one below for an investigation. If items in your mail have been stolen or you are experiencing inexplicable incidents of mangled mail, take a photo and/or describe the incident and email it to Liam Galligan in Danny O'Donnell's office: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This kind of data could help the USPS determine if patterns emerge that can narrow in on the "pain point" in the chain of possession.
I've always had a soft spot for the postal service. I love my carriers and have found their service to be unfailing. But if we want to keep these jobs, keep the postal service, and fend off the much-menaced-by-Amazon sci delivery drones that we joke are the future, USPS is going to have to tighten controls inside and outside.
And while we're fixing this, could we also get "Microsoft" to stop calling us from some far off country every day to tell us we have a virus on our computer?
Thanks, that would be grand.