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From Carrier Pigeons to Not Carrying Pigeons

From the I-hate-the-post-office office:

Shocking! Outrageous!

The following is a true story. The participants are not actors. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent. My sister, Myra, had an unpleasant experience with the USPS:


I wish to share a little story with you all. Not because I want to freak anyone out or get anyone in trouble but I think people needs to be aware of what can happen when postal workers become lazy or simply don't want to do their job.

On August 11th 2004, around 1pm, a shipment of birds left Irvine, CA and headed to me. Because these are live birds they were shipped via the USPS Express Mail service. Normally the trip from CA to my home in Iowa takes less than 24 hours; in fact the shipper was told that the birds would arrive at my door by noon on the 12th.

Knowing my post office as I do, I anticipated the birds to arrive around 3pm. That time came and went and there were no birds. The postal carrier came and went and still no birds. At this point I used the tracking info e-mailed to me to locate the package. The last entry was on the 11th and stated only:

ENROUTE, August 11, 2004, 5:29 pm, LOS ANGELES, CA 90009

The 12th came and went with out any further information. Normally an express shipment will arrive in 24 hours but there are instances when it will take an extra day. This isn't unusual and I knew the birds would be fine if they were delivered at noon on the 13th. Food (seeds) and water (in lettuce) was packed in the box with the birds as always.

The 13th came and I waited. Noon came and no birds to be found. I attempt to track the package online once again only to see:

ENROUTE, August 13, 2004, 11:31 am, DES MOINES, IA 50321

The postal carrier came by shortly after 2pm, still no birds. Now I'm really getting worried about the safety of these little creatures. They can handle being in a box for 2 days, but 3 is really pushing your luck.

With tracking number in hand I ventured down to the post office nearest to me and asked them to track it. They said it had left Des Moines and should arrive at the main post office by 4pm. I left my name, number and tracking information with the post office so they could contact me as soon as it arrived.

I resume waiting. At 4:45pm I decide to call the main post office and ask about the box. I'm told they'll look for it and call me back shortly. Thirty minutes later the post office does return my call and they can't find the box. They don't know where it was. That was about as helpful as they were willing to get. The most they were willing to do would be to have someone call me when the box did arrive.

Around 6pm I contacted a friend who works for the post office and she graciously agrees to call in to find the shipment of birds. I don't know what I would have done without her help. She found the birds and they were still in Des Moines! Apparently the day shift saw the box marked "live birds" and decided they didn't want to deal with it so they left it for the night shift. Well they didn't really want to deal with it either apparently. Never mind the fact that they were alive and they were shipped express.

My friend was able to get them on the next truck and at 10:30pm on the 13th they finally arrived in my main post office. Because it was long after the post office had closed to the public my friend went to the docks personally to retrieve the birds and brought them to my home.

Thankfully all 3 birds were alive. They were a bit dehydrated and stressed but at least they were alive.

I honestly don't know what would have happened to the birds had my friend not called in to get the birds moving again. They may have been sitting in Des Moines for another full day or longer before someone decided to move the box from the docks to the truck and let them continue on their way.


Myra is a bird enthusiast and finch breeder, and operates The Finch Niche, where she writes a lot about finches and sells a lot of finch stuff and even has finch porn.

<click> <click> <clickclickclick> Yeah, I know, I know…

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