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  • Saturday, April 14, 2007

    By Sean Ripple

    For the first time in 3 years, Timothy received an item of mail for John S. from the 14th floor. It was a regular-sized presorted solicitation letter from Business Week. Timothy reflexively trashed the mail item and went about sorting the rest of the mail received for the day.

    Usually it was the other way around. Since moving from the 7th floor 3 years ago, Timothy began receiving phone calls from John S. (a nice elderly man kept on by his company as a gesture of employer loyalty…he once served a very different function for the company 30 years ago) informing him that he was mistakenly receiving mail appropriately addressed to the company Timothy worked for, complete with the company’s suite #, which was now 1800.

    The reason this was occurring was that the company John S. worked for used to reside on the 18th floor, and after speaking to the postal clerk who services the office building, it was determined that an unidentified postal sorter at the downtown station was incorrectly sorting the mail in favor of the former tenant of 1800, not the current. Essentially, this impossible to identify postal sorter was taking assumptive proactive forwarding measures in an effort to provide superior customer service to John S’s company. Sadly, this unknown postal sorter wasn’t doing anyone a favor.

    The postal clerk who services the office building went on to explain to both John S. and Timothy how one might go about correcting the error, and although John S. did attempt to follow the instructions the postal clerk who services the office building offered, the issue was never corrected to either party’s satisfaction.

    Now fortunately for the company Timothy worked for, John S. was very good about forwarding the mail that the downtown postal sorter was incorrectly sorting. Oftentimes, the items forwarded by John S. were of much importance to the people to whom the mail was addressed. However, the majority of the mail was in fact JUNK…of worth only to the trash bin and the landfill.

    In effect, instead of making the determination as to which items John S. received for Timothy’s company in error were garbage by using such identifying characteristics as a lack of First-Class postage or having presorted postage affixed to/metered on the envelope, John S. remained passive regarding the fate of the junk mail items, leaving the decision for Timothy, thus facilitating a system of non-thought, while simultaneously unnecessarily busying his own time as well as Timothy’s.

    Now of course, on paper, John S. is correct to not make a decision to throw away Timothy’s company’s junk mail. After all, this mail is not addressed to the company John S. works for, and thus, it is not John S’s or John S’s company’s business to make a decision regarding the fate of the mail items in question. Yet, by not choosing to make the assertive decision to dispose of the junk mail, John S. is serving Timothy’s business by forwarding the mail to Timothy; though, it would be a better service to Timothy and Timothy’s company if John S. would just make the decision to dispose of the junk mail.

    Timothy pondered the possibility that one day he too might be the subject of someone’s idea of obsolescence or ineptitude, and with this, completed distributing the mail to his fellow employees.

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