Subject: My latest experience with the USPS.
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2006 10:37:21 -0500
Dear Postmaster General,
A couple of days ago one of your employees, presumably by accident, introduced me to the basic metaphysics of mail delivery. Apparently, as I am sure you know, mail travels along the Mail Stream. From what I can deduce, this so-called Mail Stream operates on the fringes of physics in the realm in which all entities are non-localized. In other words, at any given time, any given package can be at any point along this Mail Stream. Essentially, the only two certainties that the USPS seems to know are that a package enters the Mail Stream at one destination(A) and leaves the Mail Stream at another destination(B). Should you inquire as to where that package is in-between destination(A) and destination(B) a postal worker could tell you no more than, say, a particle-physicist can predict the spin of an electron. Yes, the Mail Stream is complex and we may never truly understand it. For example, I shipped twelve packages from New York within a period of two-days, all by the same method of shipment and all intended for the same location. Over the course of the next two weeks these packages began sporadically materializing at their intended destination. One package passed through the Mail Stream within a matter of four days. Others took as many as twelve. Most showed up between days eight and eleven. The point being that in a logical system, there should be little reason that a given number of packages all traveling from the same destination by the same method of shipment and destined for the same address should be delivered in such a sporadic and random manner. Another curiosity was that each package showed up with varying degrees of damage which by no means correlated in any logical way to the amount of time the package spent traveling through the Mail Stream. Around day ten, I inquired into the matter of the sporadic nature of shipment and questionable condition of the packages with a bona-fide postal employee. All I could deduce was that each package at some point entered into the Mail Stream and no one could tell me anything more until the Mail Stream so choose to deposit them at their intended destination. It really intrigued me that a package could be recorded as having entered the Mail Stream and have no further information as to its whereabouts until it materialized at a location 3,500 miles away twelve days later (eight days after receiving the first package). I know I've already compared this phenomenon to the spin of an electron in that at any given time the object in question could be at any given point, but I have another analogy which may be better. This other analogy I have for the Mail Stream is that it is like a stream and the packages traveling along it are like salmon. And every day hundreds of thousands of salmon are desperately swimming upstream to find the place in which they can reproduce and die. Some are very strong and make it upstream in a few days. Some are average and show up on the estimated day of arrival. Some are weak and take longer. Some get injured and show up missing books and other contents. Others die or are eaten by bears along their epic journey. Yet, it is impossible to keep track of a single salmon as they make their long quest back home to be unpacked and put to rest. Salmon, like packages, are unpredictable in their journey. All we really know is that they start at the ocean and die at the spawning grounds. And like the electrons of which they are comprised, a salmon can be anywhere in-between these two points. Yes, the mail is a mysterious and confusing thing made of electrons, packages, and packages of salmon which as a matter of course are comprised of electrons. There really should be more scientific research into the phenomenon that is the Mail Stream. I understand that unlike the internet, the Mail Stream is far more complex than a series of tubes in which ping-pong balls carry email from one person to another. If the Mail Stream were a series of tubes or plumbing maybe, we might understand it better. No, rather, the Mail Stream is as we have determined a chaotic, turbulent and unpredictable entity. Yet, should we discover how this river functions, then maybe someday we can erect a dam and divert this stream through a network of plumbing to regulate its flow and ensure that all packages will some day safely return to their spawning grounds to complete their life cycles. Until this day, we are just going to have to put great faith in the Mail Stream. After all, we tend to put great faith in many things we don't truly understand such as God, processed cheese and the female menstruation cycle.