Thursday, March 7, 2013

Letters lost but not forgotten.



I’ve had this idea for quite some time about a TV show that deals with lost letters, letters delivered years after their initial posting and the effects of those now delivered letters would have on the recipients. Can you imagine opening up your letter box and seeing a letter from a former girlfriend or boyfriend 30 years later? How about a hand- written will, 43 years ago, from your grandfather that alters significantly the provisions of his inheritance?  The possibilities are endless and the story lines incalculable, it might even be watched by a few, just remember where you heard the idea first if it ever gets to production.

The US postal service actually does a pretty good job considering the amount of mail it delivers.  It is estimated that only about 10% is actually lost or misplaced leaving a whopping 90% delivered each and every day.  EXFC “External First-Class Measurement System," USPS reported an EXFC score of 90% nationwide last year.

Each year approximately 175,677,241,000 (that’s billions) pieces of mail is delivered each year, that’s a lot of mail to keep track of and to get to the right person at the right time but even with that number the total pieces lost per year can be as high as 1,000,000,000, again that’s a billion, pieces that get lost, misplaced, destroyed or just simply disappear.  

If you’re wondering if it’s just the fault of the US postal system, In Great Britain at least 280,000 letters are lost or delayed every week, 0.07% of the 21 billion letters a year handled by the Royal Mail could be lost or misplaced.

The percent of mail lost has fluctuated somewhat over the years but it’s always been between 6 and 10% and if you factor in the number of years the postal service has been in operation, July 26, 1775 you can only speculate how many billions of lost letters and packages there are hiding in some obscure where house, or an old forgotten drawer in some forgotten building of a once used postal office, bags of mail lost with other stored equipment or even an entire building dedicated to those lost letters.  

My TV idea would create a discovered warehouse filled with old bags, boxes and crates that had been routed there by some unexplainable glitch in the delivery system with letters and packages dating back to over 150 years.  The postal inspectors would decide to do their best to deliver what they could and each week three to four pieces of mail would be researched and hand delivered to the surviving parties with the back story of how those letters were created, and the effects on living recipients when the contents were finally revealed.

With over a billion letters lost you can imagine the lost words that go unsaid, the lost apologies, or good wishes, the words of wisdom from a grandfather to a grandson or a mother to her struggling daughter or the legal documents that might have a profound effect on current conditions within a business or agreement.  

Every year there are a few sensational stories of letters being found and delivered.  Just the other day there was a story of a 30 year love letter never finding its way.  There are hand written letters 80 years old that eventually get delivered but the majority of those lost letters remain lost, billions of pieces of mail that may never find their way home leaving one to seriously wonder if there is a building, a warehouse, maybe a huge facility like the one in the first Indiana Jones movie or warehouse 13 TV show that depicts acres and acres of stored and forgotten boxes and crates, known only to a few select secret workers that have clandestine motives to stay the hand of delivery and forsake the age old motto of the Persians under Cyrus:  Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. (see the history of the Persian offensive on the Greeks)

So next time you think the post office lost your letter or you need an excuse why your payment wasn’t received, you really can blame it on the post office, yours will be just one of the billion or so that get lost, so take heart that excuse still works.