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[Comments] (8) Giving Up: I haven't written about this because I was hoping it would have a happier ending. Back in May, after my mother died, we kids divided up her things for our inheritance (actually we did this before she died, with her badgering us to take more stuff). I shipped my things USPS to my address in New York. The low-value things like Tupperware and sheets and books I packed into cardboard boxes or fruit crates. The high-value things -- the compact OED, the scrapbooks my mother made for me, the French oven, the pitcher, the bedside lamp I had when I was young -- I packed into durable plastic tubs and mailed with insurance.

Most of the low-value stuff arrived within a week. The high-value stuff and two-thirds of the books disappeared off the face of the earth. I didn't buy tracking on the packages, so I can't track them from the USPS web site, but the post office has a way of tracking insured packages. They show the packages being accepted into the Bakersfield post office on May 17 and 19. That's it. My inheritance is gone.

As with any disaster I'm always revisiting what I could have done to avoid it. The most obvious thing is that I should have written my address directly on the plastic tubs. That way, no matter what happened I would eventually get the tubs along with whatever was in them at the time. The other obvious thing I should have done is not used USPS. I spent about $200 on postage, and it was only that low thanks to my liberal use of media mail. But the stuff I cared enough to insure -- especially the scrapbooks -- I should have cared enough to send UPS or FedEx.

After much badgering and form-filling and asking people here and in Bakersfield to check the back room, I've given up. After much more badgering and form-filling, today I got the post office to accept my insurance claims. In a few weeks they'll either find my packages or send me some money orders. I didn't buy a lot of insurance: just enough to (I thought) make the post office take my valuable packages seriously. But at least I'll get some closure.

When someone you love dies, the things they leave behind can keep your memories of them alive if you incorporate them into your own life. For a long time the only thing I had of my father's was one of his shirts, which is why I was so happy to find his postcards. Right now it looks like the tangible reminders of my mother's life are just more things that are gone forever.


Posted by Kristen at Thu Sep 28 2006 13:56

How deeply disturbing and sad. I think Alyson had trouble getting her packages too. Sorry for your loss. How incredibly frustrating.

Posted by Brian at Thu Sep 28 2006 17:34

Chiming in with Kristen. That does suck and you have my sympathies.

There's still a chance that some or all of the containers will be found. Sending good thoughts your way.

You shouldn't beat yourself up too much about not going with tracking, though, since that wouldn't have been any guarantee against postal incompetence. UPS and Fedex screw up plenty as well. I shipped a lot of stuff to HK when I moved here in 2004 and have had stuff that I've purchased shipped over since and it was the stuff that came via UPS and DHL that has been damaged or ruined on arrival.

Posted by Claudia at Thu Sep 28 2006 20:19

I am sorry to hear about your loss. That really sucks. I'll keep my fingers crossed. Maybe now that USPS is pressured to give you money they will find your packages.

Posted by mike at Thu Sep 28 2006 23:07

Maybe I am reading this wrong, but if they show the packages as delivered, is it possible that they were delivered but someone intercepted/stole them because you were not home? Have you checked pawn shops in your immediate area?

Posted by Leonard at Thu Sep 28 2006 23:10

Sorry, they're not shown as delivered, they're shown as accepted _for_ delivery at the post office in Bakersfield. According to the tracking, the packages never left Bakersfield.

Posted by Susie at Fri Sep 29 2006 10:12

oh, I thought you meant they were delivered somewhere else too. Poor len =(

Posted by Paula at Mon Oct 02 2006 23:38

Leonard, I heard about this from Alyson. This is really really lousy. I'm a friend of Frances' and I know how much that meant to her. I just want to say I'm very sorry and hoping that some kind of miracle will occur. I found a scrapbook in my parents' house, about 4 years ago, which, it turned out, had been left at my grandparents' house about 40 years ago. My uncle remember who it belonged to, and we did some detective work, based on high school names in the book, and about six month later managed to return it to the owner, who now lives in Boston. So maybe someone will be smart enough or kind enough to work on your stuff somewhere and try to return it to you.

Posted by Janna Mauldin Heiner at Tue Oct 03 2006 00:17

Oh. Leonard. I'm sorry.

I hope they will turn up somehow.


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