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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Melanie

Why does snail mail suck so much in NYC?

By Heather Corcoran

Just last week, I opened my mailbox to an unlikely springtime sight: the distinct red envelope of a Christmas card. It was one I’d sent to my cousin back in December, and four months later, it finally found its way back to me after being marked undeliverable.

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Recently I’ve realized that, especially for apartment dwellers, sending snail mail in the internet age is like tossing a message in a bottle into the sea: There’s really no way to know if it’ll reach its destination, and trying to be at home when your package will supposedly arrive is like attempting to land a spaceship on Pluto.

There used to be a thrill associated with getting a letter in the mail; and, hey, I still love every check I get. But my mailbox has started looking less like a communications channel and more like a microcosm of America’s debt culture: It’s a mix of student-loan bills that I actually manage online and credit-card offers that go straight into the trash. Then there’s the occasional card, usually partially ripped open by the time it gets to me (something my suburban parents never deal with). I’ve had it with the United States Postal Service and its cousins, UPS, FedEx and DHL Express. I’m in an ancient apartment with no buzzer, which doesn’t pair well with my online-shopping addiction. You can imagine the number of “Sorry we missed you” slips that end up stuck to my front door—or blow down the street.

The mail sucks, and that’s why no one uses it anymore—especially in NYC. If you Newmans disagree, I look forward to receiving your pro–postal-service hate mail. Just send it to my Gmail address so I’ll actually get it.


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