The Case of the Unforwarded Envelope

It was just a plain white envelope and it was clearly addressed to my apartment but not to me. To the previous tenant.

This was last year, and it had only been a few months since the previous tenants had moved out and I had moved in, so presumably their forwarding address was still active with the Post Office. Why hadn’t this been forwarded?

Compounding the mystery was the return address. It was exactly the same as the main address. Both were printed by hand, hurriedly to judge by the penmanship.

Furthermore, this was not the first time this envelope had made its way to me. I had previously sent it back for forwarding, but here it was again. And I didn’t know the new address of David (not his real name), so I had no way of reaching him directly.

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The Envelope.jpegThe Envelope.jpeg

There seemed to be only one piece of paper in the envelope, so after considering some other options, I decided to open it.

There was one letter-size page inside, and it contained nothing but that pseudo Latin you often see in word processing sample files. You know, “Lorem ipsum etc.”

So I decided that David had probably sent it as a test case to see if the Post Office was forwarding his mail. Since he didn’t receive it, that presumably answered his question. Right?

Fast forward to a few days ago. There was another envelope, this time a brown manila envelope, with the same hand printed addressing, both from and to David at this address. But this envelope clearly contained more than one piece of paper. Probably at least a dozen pages, was my guess.

Now by this time the one year forwarding window had closed, so the Postal Service was certainly within its rights not to forward it. But—

Someone had affixed a sticker with David’s forwarding address on it and had hand written “Delv to” next to it. The address is only about a dozen blocks from here. I can understand the Postal Service not wanting to forward a piece of mail to another city or state, but just a few blocks away? Really?!

So the ball was in my court again, to use a football metaphor (please don’t write). The envelope sat in my apartment for several days as I mulled over my options. Had it not been for the previous envelope that turned out to be a dummy letter, I might not have hesitated; I probably would have just walked the dozen blocks and delivered it myself. But I didn’t want to waste my time if this were another “Lorem ipsum”, if you know what I mean.

Finally last evening, I opened the envelope, and within seconds I realized what it was and what I had to do. I must get the envelope and its contents to David ASAP.

So after lunch I bundled up to brave the cold north winds and headed to 659 Roaring Waters Road (not the real address) to drop off the envelope. I was hoping neither David nor his wife would be at home so I could just drop it in the mail slot and be off, but in case they were there, I felt I was prepared to defend my opening of the envelope.

When I arrived at the address, I was in for another surprise, because 659 was not one address but two: 659A and 659B!

Which to choose?

I decided to knock on 659A, and after waiting an appropriate interval and getting no response, I dropped the envelope down the mail slot. I figured that if I guessed wrong, the residents of 659A would correct my mistake.

So, what was in that unforwarded envelope? Perhaps it would help if I gave it a more accurate name. Think of it as a self-addressed stamped envelope, or SASE.

Yes, that’s right. It contained a short story that David had submitted to a publication along with a cover letter all the way back in February 2018, or four months before he moved. The publication had apparently taken its time in deciding whether or not to publish the story.

So I figured David would be most anxious to get his manuscript and their verdict as soon as possible.

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