I have always disliked the fact that the post office keeps pushing me to add another four digits to ZIP codes. I take it as a sign of their obvious laziness. They already make me write a five-digit ZIP code that represents the city and state, even though I already wrote the city and state on the envelope. The four extra numbers represent the actual street that the mail is going to, but I already wrote the street name on the envelope. Why do they need it in number form? Are they hiring the illiterate now? The extra four numbers make even less sense for PO boxes. If you send something to a PO box and include the full nine-digit ZIP code, it looks like this:
PO Box 1225
Wichita, KS 67207-1225
The extra four numbers are the PO box number. Why would I want to write it twice for them? That seems redundant, and like I already did it once.
Well, the other day I received a letter from my sister, and I happened to notice that the post office’s automated machinery -- the cost of which was in no way fully covered by my already overpriced stamp -- had printed my full ZIP code on the bottom of the envelope. And by full, I mean my eleven-digit ZIP code.
You thought ZIP codes only went up to nine numbers? You were wrong! The first five numbers are the city, the extra four are the street, but the magical, heretofore missing, last two digits actually represent your actual house! Now we’re getting somewhere, post office! I don’t mind writing extra numbers on the envelope if it’s all I have to write.
After I discovered this wonderful hidden nugget of postal knowledge, I ran a test, just to be sure. I mailed a letter to myself. The envelope had only two things on it. An overpriced stamp that in no way covers the cost of the bloated bureaucracy that is the post office, and an eleven-digit number. No words of any kind. No name, no street, no city. Nothing except my full ZIP code.
Bang! Two days later it showed up in my mailbox with a postmark. It worked.
Suddenly I am a fan of ZIP codes. They are finally useful, and non-redundant. My house has its very own ZIP code, and so does yours. Who knew? Figure out what it is, and that’s all the address anyone needs in order to send you a letter. So simple. So efficient.
As easy as that sounds, however, I don’t hold out much hope for my new streamlined addressing system to catch on. People like their addresses too much. We are so impressed with where we live these days that we have even started naming our neighborhoods.
“Where do you live, Bob?”
“The Enclave at Cedar Point. How about you, Fred?”
“We just moved to Parkwood Terrace at Oakview Springs Ranch.”
“Oh, great. I heard of all the Terraces, Parkwood Terrace was the best. Who was your builder?”
“No kidding! We’re in a Rentwood over at the Enclave! We should get the families together and compare granite backsplashes and toilet fixtures. What’s your address?”
“17534 Twenty-Mule-Team Chuck Wagon Ranch Drive. How about you?”
“We’re at 487278 Sunflower Mesa Creek Falls Circle.”
“Super! We can barbecue at our outdoor kitchen areas. Can’t wait to see your floor plan.”
First of all, if you guys were to look at the county assessor’s plat map, your “Enclave at Cedar Point” is actually officially known as Phase Two of the Smedley-Herndorfer Tract. Second of all, you guys live in Hogsass, Wisconsin, not the Riviera. Stop trying to make it magical.
There is no way that the folks living at “The Enclave” want to shorten up their mailing addresses to just a long ZIP code number. Most of them probably wish that people were required to include their made-up neighborhood name in their address. What are we, England?
Have you ever seen an English address? They look like this:
Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Donald Henry Robinson III
15 The Cottage Row
Huntsman’s Wood Lane
The Shepherd’s Green
Kensington upon Brighton
England SM12 5WP
It takes you fifteen minutes to address the envelope because you get writer’s cramp halfway through. If we’re not careful with all this neighborhood naming, we could end up with that someday.
While we might never get to the point of having to include “The Promontory at Eagle’s Perch” on the envelope, we probably can’t go down to just the eleven-digit ZIP code either, because a post office employee still has to hand-deliver the mail. Since they routinely give my mail to my neighbor across the street, I think we need to keep names on the envelopes, and since I routinely receive mail for people on completely different streets, we should probably keep street addresses written on them as well.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen
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