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Did You Know?

Did you know that, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” is a quote from about 2500 years ago? The Greek historian, Herodotus supposedly said this during the war between the Greeks and Persians about 500 B.C. He was talking about the Persian mounted postal couriers. The words became associated with the U.S. Postal Service when the New York City General Post Office was designed. Mitchell Kendal, an employee for the architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White, proposed engraving Herodotus’ saying all around the outside of the building. His idea was accepted and from that time forward the saying has been associated with the U.S. Postal Service. The building is now a National Historic landmark. It occupies two city blocks.

So, why did I tell you all that? Because I want to talk to you about my address and my mailbox. It seems that no matter where I live, there is something unusual about the address. What is usual about where we live now is that we are in a single family, free-standing home, yet we still have a mail box number. As you can imagine, this confuses people.

Amoeba and I live in a cul de sac. At the end of our road there is a bank of mailboxes — one for every lot in the division. We live in the 7th house, therefore our box number is 7. Makes sense, right?

Now try explaining this to delivery people. “We don’t deliver to post office boxes.” See, when I buy online, I have to give them the address with the post office box, because it goes to the purchasing card. Then I try to enter the street address without the box number and get told the delivery address must be the same as the purchase address — then I add the box number to the delivery address and get told they don’t deliver to post office boxes! Argh!

Apparently the mail carrier sometimes gets confused with our mail boxes as well. Twice I have hand delivered mail to the neighbors that was placed into our box. Other than that, I kind of like the mail at the end of the street. It is much more convenient for the mail carrier and they get their work done in a more efficient and timely manner. It also means I am guaranteed at least a bit of exercise each day.


  1. Wow, I’ve never had that problem lol, but they seem to be linked… we always just put our house address and it shows up in the appropriate post officie box across the street… (even though it’s not the same number)… maybe a different filing system for this country???

    I do however, quite often get mail with someone else’s name on it (like Andrew or Sasha or someone I don’t know at all) but my address… very weird.. I just throw it back in with a note that no one by that name lives at this address. I also get telemarketers asking for people with other names, (Kristin, Viola etc)… odd..

    1. Teresa – -yeah, I don’t get why I can’t have a street address and not a box number, but still use the box. Why cant they give the box the same number as my house? I guess that would make too much sense.

  2. Colleges have this weird new postal numbering system, as well. But we’re in somewhat of a Catch 22 when sending something to the Youngest. Snail-mail does great. Packages, though, get misplaced. It took forever, but we actually found a real mailing address for her on-campus housing. Now I can send care packages…no fuss, no muss!

  3. Sound s good to me ,Quilly. In the Continental U.S. that # 7 is a house number. Back when people got mail at their homes, yours (if built then) would have gone to house number seven on Such-and-such Street, i.e. address the letter to Quilly, 7 Such-and-such Street, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington. ZIP wasn’t needed back then.

    Now your mailbox is whatever you name it. I am about to walk to our mailbox up the street to get our mail. Our house number is 63 but the mail box # is ____ (I’ll have to go read it off the box).

    For the UPS and FedEx just give them your house number for delivery. Give them you P.O. Box for payment if that is the case. Ours know how to do that, yours should. You may have gotten hold of a trainee or refugee or someone else not up to speed yet. 🙂

    1. Forgot to say the if you don’t have a house number you soon will. The reason for that is for the GPS (system) to find peoples’ homes. My Dad got mail addressed to C. Vernon Hov(rest here), Herman, Nebraska. Then ZIP came along and he put a ZIP # on it. There never was a house number, he didn’t have one.

      1. Jim — I have a house number. 123 MyStreet #7 is how I have to do my mail according to the post office — street address AND mailbox address. I will tell them you said other wise, but to tell you the truth, I don’t think they will care.

        1. .
          I don’t think so either, Quilly. Could there be several homes at 123 MyStreet and yours is # 7? What do you put on your house for a house number (a guest and fire department aid)? At any rate I understand now. I can see how the delivery people get confused.

          I checked, our mailbox is number box is Number # 8. That doesn’t mean anything to anyone except the carrier and the computer down in Houston. That way the mail carrier could care less about a house number, just put all the mail in box 8 that the computer tags that number for.

          Eight is at the bottom of the box, with the old boxes we were near the top. # 9 at the top is empty and I asked to be changed to that. Then I said, “or my doctor would write a note for my mail to be delivered to my home.” But the computer in Houston “could not be changed.” The Postmaster suggested that my mail could be bundled if that would make it possible for me to get it from the low box that way. That was a trial offer, it seems to work. At least until my knees get stiffer.
          Oh yes, the deliver people and the mail carriers found my dad’s home and mail box. The mail box had his name on it.

          1. No. My house is the only 123. Across the street is 124 and beside me is 125. We have regular house numbers and a mailbox number. As you say, all the mail carrier worries about is Box 7. It is the delivery people who need the specific street number. But having both a house number and a box number when one lives in a house and not an apartment or a condo seems very confusing for a good number of people.

  4. I once lived on a street that didn’t exist. It seems that a few years earlier, the city decided to honor its German founders and renamed all the streets with German names, i.e. dritte Straße. The problem is, it wasn’t official as far as the post office was concerned. So everything was still officially 3rd Street. And to make it worse, the street signs were listed as “Dritte Straße- 3rd Street”. And occasionally, an address database wouldn’t like 3rd, but would require “third”. And because all of that wasn’t bad enough, we had a post office, but it wasn’t an official post office. It was more like a mailing station. I had such trouble getting packages delivered!!

    I have to admit that it’s a lot more efficient for the mailcarriers to deliver to one central location, but I’m really looking forward to my new place and the mailbox that’s right on the porch. Then, I can step outside and grab my mail while wearing my pajamas, whereas I’d never consider it if it was down the street.

    1. Yeah, I do have to get dressed. The box is far enough away that jammies are out of the question (but you probably remember that!)

      1. .
        I’m glad you guys get dressed. Some of the people here, men and women, wear robes and don’t get dressed. Of course our street isn’t a ‘real’ street even though it has a name. It has a name for the GPS and the P.O. and fire department and delivery people, etc. It just isn’t a public street.
        I always get dressed or else Mrs. Jim gets dressed. Some days we don’t get our mail. Then we don’t need to get dressed.

        1. Jim — I get dressed even on the days I don’t leave the house. Amoeba still goes to work every day and I don’t want to greet him in my jammies since I’m usually wearing them when I see him off. He might suspect I sit around all day and do nothing!

        2. I currently get dressed to get the mail because I live in an apartment. But when I move, I won’t have to. My mailbox is right on my porch, and I will open the door, stick my hand out, and grab the mail without ever stepping outside.

          Quilly, yes, your mailbox is a little ways. Not bad, but not a jammies distance either.

  5. I am aware of this type of mailbox “cluster” system. They have them here in PA too mostly in housing developments and condos closer to town. It does make the post man’s job alot easier and it makes perfect sense. Our mail box is at the end of our driveway along the main road. Seems the post man’s job will be getting easier yet, when they decide to eliminate Sat. delivery.

    1. Church Lady — are there definite plans to eliminate Saturday delivery? It seems to me that would only make Mondays more difficult.

  6. My brother lives in the same type of neighborhood, and he usually just #7 or Unit 7.

    What a pain! I’m glad we still have the mailbox at the end of the driveway. And my MIL’s is on the porch!

    1. Linda — locally it isn’t bad, so once the mail makes iot to the island the local delivery people sort it out. It is getting the cross country folks to agree to ship it to the island in association with our address that is the pain. However, so many of you are saying other’s have addresses like this, I am hopeful that the world will slowly become educated. And I once lived in a home where the mail came through the slot in the door and landed in the foyer! Talk about service!

  7. It’s nice to visit here once again. Back in my hometown in the Philippines, I am not sure if I haven’t seen any houses that have mail boxes. I was really overwhelmed when I came here in the US and noticed that probably all houses here have mailboxes with different sizes and shapes.

    Hope everything is fine with you and your family. Have a nice day.

  8. Sounds complicated ! at least in my street everybody has a letterbox and the mailman or delivery people can’t make any mistakes ! I remember my aunt in Madison also had her own letter box like everybody in the street but the mailman popped always in the living room to say hello I found that so nice !

  9. Reading the comments to this post was just as interessting as the post itself. 🙂
    I am familiar with this system of mail delivery, because that´s the way it works in Canada, where we lived too.
    What I don´t understand is, why don´t they just number the mailboxes at the corner with the house numbers of that block. That way no one would have to add an extra number to their address and mail order people would be less complicated.

    1. Betty – -see, that’s what I want to know, too. since the houses do all have unique numbers, why can’t the mailboxes have those same numbers? I suppose because it would make too much sense!

  10. i can0’t contribute anything meaningful (our addresses are rather simple) but this sure made for an interesting read 🙂

  11. It can’t possibly be true for the USPS anymore — we had quite a few days without mail delivery this past winter! But I do recall the mailman walking door-to-door in a windchill of -20 even down to nearly -40 degrees Fahrenheit, back when we lived in Spokane.

    My address is nice and normal, but my brother’s address is a complicated series of numbers plus cardinal and intermediate directions, along with a nice normal street name. Google maps cannot figure out where he lives!

    You sound so nice and calm describing your problem with mail order, but it must drive you crazy sometimes!

  12. I sympathise with your delivery problem — our address is three words long! It’s just our name, village, and “County Cavan”, and Amazon or any other big-name retailer rejects it as “incomplete address”. So I end up making up street names like “0 Notheresno Street”, and fake postcodes. The postman always congratulates me on new ones. It’s ridiculous.

    And in four weeks it will be NO MORE my problem ha ha ha ha!

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