Sunday, April 5th, 2009

The Right to Not Receive Mail?

As I mentioned before, working in the field of parks and recreation requires plenty of interaction with the community. Working in marketing for park districts requires unusual contact with the public. I used to receive phone calls from residents complaining about their taxes, people calling me an elitist, and more. Here's a blog about a phone call that made me nervous.

A number of years ago, a woman in our front office received a call from a resident who was furious. She gave her best attempt to calm him down, but apparently that wasn't working. I happened to walk through the office to make a copy. That's when she stopped me.

"Bill, I need your help."
Sure enough, I stopped to listen.
"The gentleman on the phone needs to speak with you. He doesn't want to receive a brochure anymore."
"What?"
"I know. I told him that we send them as bulk mail and not to specific addresses."
I walked back to my desk while she transferred him back to me.

"Hello, this is Bill. Can I help you?"
"You better, damn it."
"I'm sorry, but Linda mentioned that you don't want to receive any brochures."
"That's right. I served in the military. Damn it, I have a right not to receive mail if I don't want it."

That was a first for me. A right not to receive mail.

"I'm sorry, sir. We mail our brochures as bulk mail through the post office. I can't tell them to send to a specific address. Unfortunately, they will not allow that."

Of course not, that's mail tampering.

"Well then, I am going to drive to your office and throw this brochure through your window."
"There is no need for that, sir. You are more than welcome to simply recycle your brochure."
"I have signs that say 'No solicitors' on my house."
"Again, sir you will have to contact the post office. I cannot stop your mail."
"If you'd like, please leave your brochure on your doorstep and someone will come by to pick it up."
"Good. It'll be there in five minutes. It better be gone in 15 minutes or I am gonna release my dog on whoever arrives late."
"Someone will be there shortly."

Though my first instinct was to send an intern, I figured he just might be serious so I hopped into my car. Sure enough, he had signs posted every few feet on his house. The brochure was resting quietly on his doorstep. I parked a few houses away and walked to his house. I grabbed the brochure and hopped back into my car. No dog attack.

This little routine continued over the next year or so. As a cost-cutting method, we decided to have our brochures mailed through a door-to-door service. The added advantage was that we could provide "do not mail" addresses to our list. Sure enough, I had one. Our first brochure was mailed and we did not receive a phone call.

The next seasonal mailing came along. Even though we provided an address not to send to, a brochure landed on the gentleman's doorstep. Along came the phone call and the same old dance of words. I drove to the house, parked a few houses away and approached his front door. As I stood at his front door, his garage door opened.

Gulp. Yikes. Insert your favorite curse word here. Odds are I said it then.

"Are you that park district guy I talk to?"
"Ah, yes."

He was an old guy with a weathered face. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect.

He stepped closer. "Do you want to see my go-kart?"
"Excuse me?"
"Step into my garage."

I could read the headline of the next Elmhurst Press: Park district employee found dead in neighborhood garage.

"I...uh...should get going, but...uh...okay."

He proceeded to talk to me about his little car, how kids today don't have fun like he did when he was a kid, and a few other assorted comments.

How strange.


Tags:  Elmhurst, work
7 Comments
lgrant
I guess he figured you were an okay guy if you were willing to take care of him each year. It was a strange interaction, though. :)
LGrant   Sunday, April 5, 2009
Ames
I think people don't always have the same nerve to talk to you in person the way they would talk to a faceless voice on the other end of the phone. That's crazy though. Can't understand how a brochure causes so much fuss.
Ames   Sunday, April 5, 2009
Leslie
Too much time on his hands with a little boredom and lonliness tossed in. So are you now BFF's?
Leslie   Sunday, April 5, 2009
stevenheinzel
Funny story!!
stheinz   Sunday, April 5, 2009
ozthegreat
Who doesn't love old guys with wethered faces?
ozthegreat   Sunday, April 5, 2009
billpearch
Leslie, oh yes. Best of friends.
Bill Pearch   Sunday, April 5, 2009
George
Interesting story and very cool of you to go and pick up the brochure from him all the time. In the same position, I would have told him to just throw the brochure away and forget about it but you went above and beyond your duty.
LimeyGeorge   Sunday, April 5, 2009
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