A quick recap of my life in my house. I bought the house with my then-fiancee in 2005. We got married, then divorced in 2010. I took full ownership of the house in 2016, and that was the end of that. But you know what refuses to end? My ex’s mail.
Mail is a pretty well-protected delivery medium, in theory. In practice, it’s hardly protected at all, with theft and whatnot. But anyway, you’re technically not allowed to do anything with another person’s mail. And for a very long time, I was living alone in my house, with all my ex’s mail still being delivered. I filled up five large garbage bags of her mail for her to collect when she would return. As you would expect, nothing came of that.
And even after the house became mine, she never filled out a change of address form, so I continued to get her mail. Technically, I can’t throw it away. Technically, I can’t contact the sender and tell them to stop sending to this address. Technically, I can’t fill out a change of address form on her behalf. There’s really only one allowed course of action: Return To Sender.
So back in April, I finally took action and purchased a rubber stamp:
And I have dutifully been stamping every piece of her mail and putting it back in the mailbox to be sent back. A couple of days after I started this, I got some pieces of that mail back (with my stamp on them!) and I learned this can happen because the automated postal systems read the barcode below the address for delivery. So I started blacking out the barcode with a sharpie. And since then, the mail has been tapering off.
The mail coming in could be classified as three levels of importance. The top level would include bank statements and government correspondence, like the State Department of Revenue (you have no idea). These mailings stopped after the very first return to sender stamp, as you would expect them to. The next level would be things like bill collectors (you have no idea). These did stop after being returned, but it’s also a game of whack-a-mole because there’s always some new collections company buying up old debts. So, I may be living with these for some time. The lowest level is presorted junk mail. These have been sent back countless times and it’s very difficult to get them to stop. I hope they will at some point. My guess is they just throw all the returned pieces into a bin and process the addresses whenever they have some free time. And most larger companies have multiple independent lists, so each department has to get a returned piece and process it at their leisure.
I’m hoping to get to the point of zero mail for that addressee, but you know, there will always be the companies that sneak it in with “…or Current Resident”. Maybe that’s what they mean with the “’til death do you part” stuff. They’re referring to junk mail. But even that’s not true. I get mail addressed to her dead father, too! “Not at this address”, indeed!