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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rural Route Rant…

Tualco Valley

High winds blasted the Valley yesterday and last night. They have flagged somewhat, but on this morning’s walk in the Valley I’m reminded of John Masefield’s poem “Sea Fever,” the 3rd stanza line “…where the wind’s like a whetted knife.” And it knifes its way across the straight stretch of road toward Dead Man’s Curve on this unseasonably cold April morning, the third day of the month. I wonder what the chill factor computes with these two variables: temperature 42 degrees; wind speed 27 mph. Cold enough for this walker to tug down his wool hat frequently. The National Weather Service has a revamped wind chill chart where, in the warmth of your home, you can compute how long it will take your facial extremities to frost up if you venture out in the weather. The new chart factors in temperature and wind speed and body heat transfer for faces five feet above the ground (instead of the old chart’s thirty-three foot anemometer height; anemometers don’t experience frostbite). My face is one foot higher than the average face, so I imagine at nose level, my nose is a tad bit colder than the five foot person’s nose. The drip factor’s a tad bit more, too.

But this morning I’m hot under the collar, so the chill factor (31 point something degrees, allowing for my height), I hardly notice. My preoccupation unfortunatelymuddy mess these days is the turn lane project in front of the house.  The destruction has progressed to the point that the targeted landscape resembles the trench warfare from a WWI novel. The latest development that has me steamed (wonder if the NWS has an aggravation chart…) is our mailbox issue.Marianna Trench 

November 18 of ‘09, we received an informational letter from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT, DOT, or #%&*%!!). Paragraph two stated: “During construction, your existing mailbox will need to be relocated. WSDOT [#%&*%!!]or its agents will complete the relocation. We will also be replacing the mailbox supports with a breakaway feature. This feature is a safety improvement that will lessen vehicular damage and risk of bodily injury,[sic] if a vehicle hits the mailbox.” Thursday Tom, a supervisor for the subcontractor TSI, informed me that relocating the mailbox was imminent. At this point the U. S. Postal Service (insert favorite epithet here) enters the picture. You remember that quaint saying about “neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor chill factor…” and the U. S. Postal Service? Apparently that creed rode off into the sunset with the Pony Express. Tom had been weaving his way through the Postal Service red tape starting with the local postmaster who informed him that any temporary arrangements would have to be ok’d by the route carrier. Tom located same and ran the problem by him. The temporary fix was to have the three mailboxes affected relocated on the property at the northeast corner of Tualco and 203;  Beebes, the owners of said property, had agreed to the temporary arrangement.

The idea of having my personal mail delivered to an unsupervised, random site a quarter of a mile away for a day, week or a month was out of the question.   Option number two: relocate the mailbox off the right-of-way at the side of our driveway. Carrier could turn into our driveway, insert mail in relocated box, turn around in driveway and continue on his route. Tom …well, he’d have to run this option by the carrier; if the situation was disagreeable to him, the carrier was not obligated to deliver our mail (regardless of weather).

Today I stopped by the post office to mail a package just as the route carriers happened to be loading the day’s mail for delivery. When I told one of the carriers my problem, she directed me to the rear of the post office where I could ring for assistance. I was admitted and directed to our own personal carrier. Peter is his name. Peter recognized me immediately as the Valley denizen he passes frequently either walking or struggling along on his bike. We have been on “friendly waves” terms for a couple of years now. In the presence of another postal worker I explained the problem to Peter. Peter had met Tom and knew of the problem. He said, “I will deliver the mail to his (my) house; I like him…just kidding.” And he was, apparently, because when I mentioned the temporary driveway plan, Peter was non-committal. Regulations require rural route drivers, once en route, to maintain “forward progress”: they are not allowed to back up. Peter would have to shift the Taurus into reverse once, back up, and then make the turn out of our driveway. Now he has done this a number of times, just recently to deliver a certified letter, in fact. But he was not willing to admit this infraction in the company of a colleague.

Today Peter delivered our mail  to the same spot it has been delivered for thirty-five years. We’ll see what happens come Monday.

And concerning that “breakaway” safety feature of WSDOT’s state of the art mailbox stanchion…if some irresponsible, careless, inconsiderate driver runs into my mailbox(as several have over the years; no personal injury that I know of; considerable emotional injury on my part, though), I want that post to make a mark, tear a bumper, crumple a quarter panel,or put a bump on someone’s nose. I should have Ed Broer construct me a new stanchion. The one supporting his mailbox could upend a Mack truck should its inattentive driver run into it

Ah, the WSDOT and the U. S. Postal Service: as Jonathan Swift said, “a confederacy of dunces.”  Email is looking better all the time.

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1 comment:

  1. What a mess. Sounds like 'going paperless' is looking better and better. Or, you could move right behind a Post Office, which has worked out well for us :). When we moved here, there was a big struggle about where to put the mailbox. Apparently, if a mailbox is located in a specific location, moving it from this location to another is a huge problem (illegal, even?). For example, we could not move our mailbox to our porch, if it was formerly at the bottom of the steps. I imagine to take the added strain off trusty Tim the Postal Carrier. Because we didn't know where the previous mailbox was located, we didn't want to install it and then find that it's too far from the sidewalk and have to re-install it someplace else. So, it took 3 short walks to the Post Office to talk to 3 different Post Masters, until I pretty much just told them where we were going to put it. It's interesting how the rules change depending on the circumstances, isn't it. Sorry least you get to brush up on some of those old *&$%#@'s that have may have been put away for a while...or not. :)