The Angel on Route 35

Last Friday, I was sitting the back seat of a friend's car. We were stuck in LA traffic, gabbing, when my phone rang. The Caller ID showed it was the Mom in the Mail customer support line.

Me: Hi! This is Mom in the Mail. How can I help you?

Caller: Hello? Yes. This is ______. I'm a mail carrier here in Chicago, and I've got one of your packages here. It's addressed to Josh ______. I'm at that address, but he doesn't live there.

Me: Wait, what? 

I rapidly figure out that in order for us to be having this conversation, the mail carrier would have had to see "Mom in the Mail" as the return address, go online, search for my website, click through to the contact us page, find the phone number, and call me from in front of not-Josh's mailbox. 

Mr. Postman: Yes, I checked, and he's not at this address.  Do you think you could give me the correct one? I want to get this to the right place.

I explain that the package is from a relative of his, and I used the address she gave me.  I'll have to get in touch with her to find out. 

Me: If I do get a new address, what's the procedure for that?

I am imagining a wall of red tape springing up. Forms and paperwork and a box full cookies slowly going stale in the limbo of the USPS bureaucracy.

Mr. Postman:  Well, if it turns out he's in this same zip code, or the other one in my route, I can redeliver it for you. If it's not, just call the central office here and they'll sort it out.

I'm 100% sure this is not how things work, because, well, it just isn't.

Me: Right. So, if it is in one of those zip codes, how would I go about letting you know?

Caller:  Well, you can call me back. That'd be the easiest. Here's my cell number, and here's the number for the office. This one will get you right to a real person there. Tell them you talked to me, ________, from Route 35.

I am now completely gobsmacked. I recover enough to let him know I'll do my best to figure this out and get right back to him. I believe the word "profuse" could easily apply to the number of times I thanked him before I finally hung up.

What was inside the mis-labeled box.

What was inside the mis-labeled box.

I proceed to frantically email and call the person who ordered the Graduation Box. An hour and a half later, I get an email back with the corrected information. It's in the same zip code, but it's now nearly 4 PM in Chicago. I dial the number and wait.

Me: Hello? This is Sharon, from Mom in the Mail.

Mr. Postman: Oh, hi! I was hoping I'd hear back from you. Did you find Josh's address?

Me: Yes!

Mr. Postman: Well, what do you know. That's only about six blocks from me. I'll take it over there right now and be sure he gets it today. 

Me: You are a lifesaver, truly. I cannot thank you enough for going to all this trouble for us. I so, so, so, so, so, so, so appreciate it*.

Mr Postman: No trouble. You have a good weekend now.

I hang up, sit back in my seat, and quietly marvel at the cheerful helpfulness of the man on the other end of the line. In a time when public life is filled with vitriol and demeaning words, I found myself moved to tears** by the unexpected kindness of this stranger. I'll happily live with a bunch of boxes detouring through Maine in order to get a single moment like this.

Thank you, thank you _________, USPS mail carrier on Route 35 in Chicago, IL. You delivered one gift, but you gave me an even greater one. 

P.S. A few days later, I found a post on our facebook page from Josh:

* There might have even been more "so's", but you get the idea.

** I was actually crying in the back seat of that car. Not gonna lie.