Friday, June 30, 2006

You know how...

You know how many people make fun of the postal service at times. Well, I’m here to express my amazement at actually receiving a piece of correspondence. It was addressed as follows:


The only bit that is correct is “Mr. Thomas Kyte”. The street address used by the hotel was “1910 Orpale Way”. I work at “1910 Oracle Way”. The City – DC. Nope, DC is not a “place” really – Washington DC might be. But I don’t work there. I work in Reston VA. That number – 201190. Well, that is not even a zip code! They botched my real zip code of 20190.

So, a letter using a street that does not exist, in a non-existent city/state, with a zip code that isn’t a zip code….

Was delivered. In two weeks (or less – I don’t check my mail at work everyday, it came sometime between the 26th and 30th of June).

Kudos to the postal service. Not bad service for 39 cents – not only that but it was technically “international” mail. Canada Post had to first figure it out and then get it to the USPS.


Anonymous Anonymous said....

I will bet that Canada Post identified it as for US quite easily. Once in the USPS hands, it probably took a reasonably intelligent clerk only a few minutes with an 'address cleanser' that has a street name spell checker in it to figure out what the sender meant and send it on its way. Did the letter have an address correction sticker on it when it arrived?

I am still amazed that for only $.39 you can send an ounce of pretty much anything across country and have it arrive on time and undamaged.

Fri Jun 30, 05:45:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Mark A. Williams said....

But did you pay those charges not billed prior to departure? :)

Fri Jun 30, 06:11:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Andrew said....

An interesting thing about US postal codes and street addresses. At least for resedential mail, the ZIP+4 postal code will identify an individual block face. Like Firewood Av, west side, between 1st and 2nd streets. This makes it possible, if it were not for a postal carrier who had to deliver the mail and needs human understandable codes (street names) to get the job done, to actully identify the individual house by numbers only. You could, hypothetically, address a letter to
Ace Dba
and it should be deliverable. After all there is only one 1213 house on the particular block face identified as 64355-1215.

This makes for a nice composite key.

I wonder if that helped the postal clerk find the correct address from
- a correct street number
- a mis-spelt street name
- a fat-fingered ZIP code
- only the postal state code

Fri Jun 30, 06:33:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

There was no address correction sticker at all...

And the breakfast I had last at the hotel wasn't on the bill...

Fri Jun 30, 06:44:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Oh come on folks.

That's easy. The Canadian postal worker is probably an out of work Oracle based IT proffesional who went to work for the postal service because of the reduction in stress and increase in pay and felt honoured to have a piece of mail addressed to Mr. Kyte, and as not to blemish the piece he/she/it placed it in a damaged mail package and sped it on it's way. And the USPS person delivering the mail removed it from the damaged mail package as per the rules and left it in its untouched original format.

Neither postal service (I have lived in both countries) has ever lost a bill or a notification for tax audit. They only lose outgoing cheques [checks] to pay those bills or Mother's day cards.

Fri Jun 30, 10:05:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Connor McDonald said....

Is it possible that this blog entry might be a subliminal comment on the degradation in the handwriting skills of modern keyboard-centric IT professionals ?


Fri Jun 30, 11:28:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

Those parts of the address have a relatively low likelihood of namespace collisions. At my PO box, I get checks for the local bar association all the time, since their box number is a single transposition error from mine.

Most letters are routed by optical character readers these days, I wonder if what is read is kept to try to determine manually from LOV when there is no match?

Big business.


Sat Jul 01, 12:41:00 AM EDT  

Blogger yas said....

I have seen many funny address descriptions on letters here in Turkey. Like "Dear mailman, my uncle lives in village x, find the mosque, turn right, walk 100 meters, there is a white small house at the left, that is mu uncle's. Please give this to him". This was also delivered to the correct address.

Sat Jul 01, 09:49:00 AM EDT  

Blogger sm said....

We recently moved from the U.S to India. We've updated our address with citibank, but everytime they send a mail out, they have "IND" instead of India, so it always goes to Indonesia before coming back to us here in India !!

Mon Jul 03, 08:10:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

...and you REALLY thought you can get away that easily by giving a fake address at the check-in and after eating some expensive lobster meal. ;-) :-)

Mon Jul 03, 09:55:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Ian Murphy said....

Reminds me of the urban myth that Bill Bryson wrote in one of his books (I forget which).

Someone posted a letter to the following:


And it got to it's intended recipient; John Underhill of Andover, Massachusets. Gotta be false but still quite amusing :-)



Tue Jul 04, 08:14:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

This is great, if I can't get a question done on AskTom, I have a snail-mail alternative!

Thu Jul 06, 04:22:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Shouldn't there be an and over the "Mass"?


Thu Jul 06, 04:25:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

John is under hill and over Mass

Thu Jul 06, 07:13:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Kevin said....

My all-time favorite: my company does holiday cards for our customers; one gov't customer in particular is hard to mail things to; particularly after the anthrax scares after 9/11. So, the card was addressed to:

Mr. Joe Schmo
Hand Delivery
by Ricky Romano

You'd hope that it was returned 'Postage Due', but thanks to Pitney Bowes, that wasn't a problem. It arrived in late February, which sounds bad, but going through the standard gov't mail room delay, it was pretty close to right on time.

Thu Jul 06, 10:50:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Richard said....

Of course, the simplest way to split the atom is to mail it First Class, marked "Fragile - Handle With Care".

Thu May 03, 09:08:00 AM EDT  


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