Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Respecting the Rural Mailbox

I don't know if it's the warmer weather and more people are out walking or what, but at my post office, many people are breaking the law and I bet most don't even know it. One of my missions has been to make people aware of this. It is illegal to put things in people's mailboxes--notes, something you are returning, or an invitation--nothing. Here is the official rule from the postal Domestic Mail Manual Section 3.1.3 "no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items or matters placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Any mailable matter not bearing postage and found as described above is subject to the same postage as would be paid if it were carried by the mail."

I've taken some grief from the public for enforcing this rule. I am just doing my job. The immediate reaction is that this is just a way for the post office to make more money. Well, it is true that this cheats us out of money while using our system, but this is not the only reason for this rule. Please keep reading.

The minute that we allow anyone access to your mailbox, you are being put in jeopardy of someone tampering with your mail. That is why we do not allow strangers to put in advertisements, or neighbors put in notes, or anyone at all to use the mailbox without going through the proper channels. This protects them too. If you are missing a piece of mail and know someone put something in or on your mailbox one day, they could possibly become a suspect. Also, do you want your neighbors seeing what doctor bill you are getting or what magazines that you subscribe to? This law helps protect the sanctity and security of the mail. If we let this practice continue, the mailbox loses its respect. If it were common practice to use mailboxes as one pleased, this would compromise the safety of the mail.

I am here to bring back the respect that a mailbox deserves. Feel free to leave a note in someone's front door or on the windshield of their car, or even in the newspaper tube, but don't let me hear of you putting notes in a mailbox. I have harped on this subject for years. I'm surprised that someone hasn't told someone else, "How dare you open my mailbox?" It is a presumptuous thing to do and it is illegal. Protect your own mail, don't tell someone to put something in your mailbox. Keep your privacy.

Well, my rant is over.

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