A number of years ago, my wife and I made the big plunge that we knew would temporarily throw our little world into disarray: we switched from having a box at the post office to having the mail delivered to our physical address. For the most part, the transition went smoother than expected. Most of our family and friends as well as the businesses we deal with (read “bills”) got the message. Most.
The lone standout exception was the Daily Press, the regional newspaper we subscribe to in southeastern Virginia. We received the “weekend special,” papers for Friday through Sunday for an excellent rate. For a while, the Daily Press also threw in Thursday papers as a bonus. It was more news than we could read, but worth it for the Sunday paper alone.
We had neglected to notice that we had not been billed for the subscription for quite some time; that is until we received a phone call. I won’t bore you with a transcript of the call, but I can summarize it like this:
DP: “Why haven’t you paid your bill?”
Us: “We never received a bill.”
DP: “Would you like to pay it now?”
Us: “Could you please bill us?”
DP: “Sure. Let’s just get that corrected address right now and we’ll send a bill out to you.”
We gave them the new address. Expected bill never came.
Over the course of half a year, we repeated that conversation at least three times. Maybe more. We eventually came to realize that the person on the other end of the line was not REALLY from the Daily Press. They were something akin to an independent contractor tasked with collecting payments. Often during these conversations we would ask to be transferred to billing. No can do.
This was made all the more frustrating by the proximity of my mailbox to my newspaper box. I was going to take a photo to show you just how close they are, but…well…I can’t anymore. So you’re just going to have to take my word for it. They were real close. Like eight inches apart. So this business, the Daily Press, can consistently find my newspaper box at least three days a week, but has no earthly idea how to get a bill to my mailbox. Mind blown.
The people on the other end of the line were by and large very nice and generous. I believe more than once they offered to absolve our previous debt and we could resume payments as originally agreed upon for weekend deliver. Fine. Just send us the bill.
Some callers took our new address and carefully entered it into the system. (We’ll get this all straight today…Just hold on just a moment.”) Some callers wondered what the other callers were doing because they claimed they did not have those sorts of powers. (If true, one has to wonder what the first callers were doing.) All callers were hoping to get a credit card number and an immediate payment. No thank you. Just please send us the bill.
Eventually the phone calls asking for payment just stopped. That was two years ago. But the newspapers just kept coming.
That was until recently.
That was when I received a phone call from my wife regarding the state of the mailboxes and newspaper boxes for us and our neighbor. I mean, really, how often do you get to say “My mailbox was plowed under by a pickup truck driven by Willie Nelson”?
That’s right. Willie Nelson reports that he blacked out soon after pulling out of his driveway half a mile away. He drove through our ditch, over both mail and newspaper boxes, crossed over our driveway, into the next ditch, and then obliterated the next mail boxes. When our neighbor came to investigate what he thought sounded like gunshots, he found Willie in the driver’s seat, very much awake and alert, trying like mad to launch himself and the pickup out of the ditch and onto the road, leaving the postal carnage in his wake. This was made more challenging by the fact that the ditch culvert had rammed his front passenger side wheel into the spot usually reserved for…well…passengers. (I briefly wondered whether the truck’s nickname was “Trigger,” but--for clarity’s sake--that’s the name of a guitar and a different Willie Nelson.)
The Daily Press came by a week later and put up a new newspaper box. For my neighbor only. I’m pretty sure he actually pays for his, so I really can’t complain. They were real nice folks and chatted with me for a while about the incident, then left.
All good things must come to an end. I sure am going to miss my Sunday paper. But on the brighter side, much less recycling for me to do once a month.