I’ve mentioned the Check Vigil before, that period of time at the end of each month when we government handout recipients wait to receive said handout in the mail. It’s rather a silly emotional experience for a rational person to have. We get so little money that nearly the entire check is committed to expenses the second we receive it, so receiving it doesn’t make a significant difference to our lives, if we behave responsibly. Some of us don’t behave responsibly and falsely feel “rich” for a couple of days, spending wildly and then pinching farthings and millrays for the next three and a half weeks until the next check. I’m not one of those people, however, so I recognize that I’m not going to have any more money available for spending in the week after I get my check than I have in the week just before I expect to get it. So why would I get dragged into the stress of the Check Vigil at all? Surely I should do anything in my power to avoid being crippled by the small amounts of stress that cripple me.
Well, this month, there are additional stressors. Our postal service is discontinuing delivery to individual residences, and might already have discontinued it. Delivery either already is or soon will be only to group mailboxes. Our building has a group mailbox, so there are no plans to discontinue delivery here, but there have been cuts in both staff and equipment used in deliveries. Routes that used to be handled by three or four small, dedicated delivery trucks are now handled by one large truck that is also responsible for picking up outbound mail from street mailboxes, and there is strong evidence that the short-staffed letter carrier unit responsible for this building don’t have set routes any more, resulting in a different truck and different letter carrier nearly every single weekday. That, of course, has caused its own host of problems.
One problem is that the letter carriers are severely overworked. They must work faster and harder than ever before unless they want to end up staying past the ends of their shifts in order to get the job finished, and very likely their union frowns on them staying for overtime they aren’t paid for, not to mention that management would take notice and potentially discipline them for being “slow” for working at a normal pace with sufficient care and attention. So they race through their deliveries, and I have recently noticed an increase in screwups–the returned mail bin not being emptied for as long as a whole week, so that it starts to overflow; mis-sorted mail, so that I’ve gotten mail intended for the apartment next door to me in my mailbox, and even mail for a different building; as well as huge variation in the times at which the mail arrives, so that it has been here any time between noon and 8 pm depending on the letter carrier and the path s/he takes through his/her expanded route.
So I finally come to what’s causing me stress: the mis-sorts. For the past five days, there have been shredded contents of some returned mail in the returned mail bin. I’ve looked at them and the mail very obviously contained a brand new credit card. Whoever received the mail must have put it in the returned bin, and then someone else saw that the mail contained a credit card, opened someone else’s mail on the spot, and buggered off with someone else’s credit card. This will become obvious to whatever letter carrier finally checks the returned mail bin, whenever that occurs. Or perhaps they’re avoiding taking that mail in order to save themselves of having to report what is obviously stolen mail and clear indication that someone is committing fraud. It would add extra hassle to their already too-busy day.
Anyway, if my check gets mis-sorted and put in the wrong mailbox, there is reason to believe that it will be stolen by the same person who stole the credit card and fraudulently cashed. That would force me to wait until the day when I can report a non-received check to the Disability staff, but I can already guarantee their reaction: they will tell me that I cashed the check, and, if I tell them I never received it, will call me a liar. That will require me to go to the police and file a fraud report. Such investigations normally take months, so I would almost certainly spend an entire month with not a penny in my pocket, unable even to pay rent or buy food.
Just the prospect of that happening is almost enough to turn me quadriplegic. So here I sit, awaiting the check vigil that begins Thursday afternoon and possibly won’t end until next Thursday afternoon. And if it ends then only because my check never came, it’s guaranteed I’ll be catatonic from distress and in an ambulance headed straight for the psych ward. From which I might emerge only feet first after having died of old age.
Hope you’re having a better week than me.