Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Have You Seen This Magazine?

If “CSI” has taught us nothing, it’s that evidence is king. And not of the O.J. ill-fitting-glove variety, but iron-clad proof of guilt.

I learned this lesson myself as I attempted several months back to have an illegal dumpster removed from our street. Along with other residents of our building, I contacted the city and our alderman to complain. The linchpin in our case turned out to be a log I kept of the illicit activity. I handed it over to Streets & Sanitation, they used it to determine the best time to conduct a stakeout, and then nabbed the culprits in the act as I spied from between the slats in our blinds. The dumpster was gone the next day.

Flush from that success, I’m beginning my next campaign, this time against the United States Postal Service. I realize this is a much bigger fish to hook but the mere act of trying promises to ease my sense of powerlessness.

I am talking about the ongoing non-delivery/disappearance/theft of my magazines. I subscribe to The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated and InStyle. In any given week, I am never sure which will actually arrive.

My first course of redress, logically, would be to place a call to our local postal branch. But if there is a single group of employees less interested in customer service than the USPS, I have yet to make their acquaintance.

I once requested via Post-it note (granted, a communication faux pas, as any “Sex in the City” fan can attest) that our carrier cease and desist the practice of placing magazines in bins that sit on the floor in our entryway. This is the dumping ground for catalogs and circulars, not mail we actually pay to receive, and it seemed the simplest way to nip any potential theft issue in the bud. Admittedly our mail slots are narrow, but it only takes a nanosecond to fold a magazine in order to make it fit. I know, I’ve tried. The carrier’s response, on same Post-it, assured me otherwise.

For my retaliatory salvo, I contacted the carrier’s supervisor, who said they would work on the problem. And for awhile, my magazines, save the steroidal InStyle, appeared in my box. And then they were back in the bin. And then they were in the box. And then they were in the bin. I began to speculate that someone was playing mind games with me, which would suggest a certain level of cleverness or malice. I am willing to attribute the latter.

Typically, months pass between incidents, lulling me into complacency. And then suddenly a New Yorker goes AWOL. I wait a day or two to make sure delivery isn’t just late, and then report the wayward issue to the magazine in question. (It is never Sports Illustrated, which I find the most curious piece of this puzzle. For a time, this led me to suspect that our gay neighbors across the hall were swiping InStyle and EW, but several of us in the building subscribe to the same magazines and multiple copies go astray at once.) I’m typically offered another copy sent via regular mail, which for some reason takes 6-8 weeks to ship, or to have another week tacked onto my subscription. Given the source of the matter, obviously I choose option #2. But I’m starting to worry that I’m on some watch list as the potential perpetrator of an elaborate subscription extension con.

My new strategy: I plan to keep a running tally of each issue I fail to receive, along with the cover price of replacing each copy. I will present a bill to the Post Office at the end of the year and demand recompense. And then I’ll move.


Luminous Sighting

April issue of InStyle (non-delivered, purchased at Border’s, $3.99), pg. 149: “…Donna Karan’s deep jonquil blend of cotton and silk, worn by the luminous Maria Bello…”


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