A recent News.com article told the story of how the Viewbank Tennis Club were astonished to find a box delivered by Australia Post of sew-on patches, believed to have been ordered in the mid-1970s. 40 years late!
The reason given by Australia Post: "The box apparently fell behind some machinery at an Australia Post sorting centre, only to be discovered decades later as staff prepared to move."
All those people who have been told 'their cheque' is in the mail and never get it - might now know where all those envelopes are!
But there are several cinematic and television programs based on lost or missing mail. We can think of 'As Time Goes By" where way back in the 50's at the time of the Korean War a Second Lieutenant Lionel Hardcastle and Middlesex Hospital Nurse Jean Pargetter fall madly in love and he goes off to Korea.
The only problem was – his reply letter from Korea to Jean in response to her passionate literary tome never arrived and therefore as time went by the wattle of love dissipated. They both went their separate ways, marrying other people and then later in life, found each other again.
In one episode the reply letter is discovered in a military museum where letters from the period were on display – for whatever reason, it had never been sent – it too may have fallen behind a set of drawers or a piece of machinery. Who knows?
Then there is the movie of the most determined postal delivery man in the history of the Royal Mail in Britain, The Missing Postman.
The story line is when Dorset postman Clive Peacock is forced into early retirement, the years ahead look bleak. But on his last day in the job, in a moment of unexpected rebellion he makes a decision that will change his life.
As he makes his final collection from the postbox in the small seaside town where he lives, he decides to deliver the letters himself, by hand, no matter the destination. Mounting his trusty bicycle, he sets off on what proves to be an odyssey of self-discovery. Pursued by the police and lionised by the media, Clive becomes both a fugitive and a reluctant hero.
I could wax lyrical on story after story relating to the post. One very interesting program on one of those motor programs was a test from the very south of England to the tip of Scotland – a letter was sent by the Royal Post - mail truck – helicopter – mail sorting centre - mail truck – mail van – local post office – push bike delivery. The test was whether someone driving a car could there quicker. The postie beat the car by 30 minutes.
But there is a serious side to this story. By and large solicitors send their documents through the mail. Businesses use the mail service. Although a lot of communication today is done by Email, the Internet and social media, important documents go by the post.
Thinking of some of these -
Hospital / Medical appointments
Service Utility accounts
Police and the Judiciary
Honours and Awards
...... the list is endless
It is a very serious offence to interfere with the mail. Whether you realise it or not, the stamp you lick and place on the envelope is a Commonwealth of Australia 'Government Contract" - a constitutional affirmation that your letter will be delivered safe and sound and within set times to the addressee.
So when a letter is not delivered there is alarm. When an expected document is not delivered sparks begin to fly. Australia Post is a statutory authority whose very existence is based on 'getting the mail through'. It's no joke. This is Serious 101.
This is the history of all postal services. The entire running of the country, any country depends on the safe and secure delivery of its mail.
This is why the Apostle Paul is able to allude to the idea of a letter in 1 Corinthians 3 where he likens the Christian to "a letter read by all" and therefore a plead to live our lives worthy of the Lord's Calling.
In my first parish as the senior minister the Croydon Park North Campsie Baptist Church in 1979 was a postman, the late Len Morgan. He was as trustworthy and reliable as one might find anywhere. I had meals or mornings / afternoon tea's with the men of the congregation and when Len and I met on these occasions, I was with a man of generous repute. He took much pride on his mail deliveries.
It is rather fabulous that this 'letter thing' is common to all nations – the post service – our letters – from it seems time immemorial – that the Scriptures highlight as an example to each of us who follow Jesus.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html