“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” wrote Herodotus, an ancient Greek philosopher, in what later became the U.S. Postal Service’s unofficial credo.
“That obviously doesn’t stand true in Charlottesville these days,” says Bentivar resident Bill Lawrence.
In May, C-VILLE wrote about a mail mess, as tips poured in that downtown businesses and residents in several neighborhoods were going days without service. When a USPS spokesperson said one career letter carrier had retired and two other employees were out on requested leave, we thought we’d found the answer.
But it wasn’t long before further reports of missing mail hit our inboxes, and we’ve been collecting them ever since.
In November, Lawrence says he went at least three days with no mail delivery or pickup—which wasn’t good for the business he runs from his house.
Lawrence, who channeled his own frustrations into launching a poll about mail delivery satisfaction on a neighborhood website called Nextdoor, says missing packages and parcels have been an issue for his neighborhood and beyond.
But at least one neighboring household, he says, has had the opposite problem—a carrier recently dropped off a fat stack of mail, which included letters to people in entirely different neighborhoods, the Bentivar resident says with a hearty laugh.
A post office representative reportedly told Lawrence that his carrier had taken the entire month of November off, which he says could explain some of the issues.
“It seems, at least in my immediate neighborhood, to have resolved itself,” he says, but adds that he’s aware that people living in other areas of the city haven’t had the same luck.
About a year ago, Rosemont resident Charles Kendig started noticing that his mail was being dropped off later and later, with a couple 11pm delivery times over the summer, and at least twice, he received no mail at all.
“In one case, I was waiting for a check to be delivered,” he says.
When he recently had his mail stopped, he says it never restarted and his mailbox stayed empty. Kendig went to the main post office on Route 29 to pick it up himself.
“Staffing there is unacceptable,” Kendig says. “Last time I was there, only two people were working the [eight] stations and 20-plus people were waiting in line.”
But “to be fair,” Kendig adds, over the weekend when Charlottesville saw its first snow of the winter, his mail arrived by 3pm. “That would work for me every day,” he says.
Postmaster Cloteal Farmer, who now manages all local postal operations, was sworn in to office less than a month ago. It’s Kendig’s hope that she’ll help straighten out the mess.
Farmer did not respond to an interview request.
“The Postal Service is continuing to meet the peak holiday demand. We have planned for this holiday season all year long, which includes hiring seasonal workers,” says Baltimore-based USPS spokesperson Freda Sauter. “We continually review our staffing and scheduling and make necessary adjustments in order to enhance our services, not just for the holidays, but throughout the year.”
But locals who are longing for their regularly scheduled mail delivery aren’t buying it.
Says Kendig, “This is understandable during the holiday season, but not during the normal year.”
Brave enough to ship Aunt Polly her Christmas present this year? Here are the USPS deadlines you won’t want to miss.
Ground shipping: December 14
First-class mail: December 19
Priority mail: December 20
Priority mail express: December 22