Thursday, February 2, 2012

Interesting ...

Yesterday I received a call from the anti-terrorism unit of the U.S. Postal Service. That was a bit of a surprise since I wasn't even aware that there was such a unit. After a round of twenty questions to establish that I was indeed who I am and they were indeed who they claimed to be., we got down to the reason for the call.

They wanted to know if I was expecting a large manila envelope. Another game of twenty questions ensued to establish that the envelope *might* contain a book. When I admitted that yes, I had recently won a copy of the Everyday Happy Herbivore from Little Miss Blogger over at A Little Blog About Nothing things went downhill even further. Trying to explain that you won a book from a blog and that that is what might be in the envelope in question to an anti-terrorism agent is an interesting exercise in futility.

Needless to say, some time later we had established that:

  • I was not a terrorist.
  • The sender of the book was probably not a terrorist.
  • The U.S. Postal Service should go ahead and deliver the book to me.

Now you might wonder what really triggered this insane sequence of events. (I know that I sure did!)

Near as I can figure out, the whole sequence was set in motion by the fact that whomever sent the book to me (the publisher???) somehow neglected to put either postage or a return address on the package. Thus the postal people saw an anonymous bomb sized envelope suddenly appearing in their system which triggered all the anti-terrorism red flags.

The final upshot of all this: I won a free book, but will undoubtedly have to pay postage for it when it gets here. Certainly worth it to me for the interesting conversation with the agent. I am also impressed that they found the right phone number for me. All they had was the physical address and my name and they found the right number to call on the first try. (I have at least 6 phone numbers associated with me and my address - even more if you believe the errors that Google has propagated from time to time.)

Any one else live such an interesting life?


  1. I knew there was something suspicious about you Dr.

    Glad you got that straightened out.

    And, thanks for the Maxwell Smart shot--funny memories watching that show with my father.

  2. What a pile of horse-leavings. All this fear of terrorists has really gone too far.

    Of course anyone who is going to mail a package without return address OR postage is pretty weird too. Isn't it great that you are such a fine upstanding member of the community. It could have been porn!

  3. They have x-rays, they can measure and weigh (books have a pretty reasonably established density), they have drug sniffing dogs and machines, what's their problem?

    Tomorrow morning, at 4am, men in balaclavas and shouting 'hut-hut-hut...' will break down your front door with sledge hammers and deliver the parcel. After a brief water-boarding session to confirm your identity (remember, it is not torture), you will be allowed to open the parcel and will be required to explain every sentence and explain all the obvious double meanings. Well, it could be a code-breaking book, you see....


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