After a week of thinking about books and birds, I woke up to worry about money. One check in particular that was supposed to be in the mail.

I hadn't received the vital delivery, a check to assist in my current education endeavor. It had not arrived. I know it had not arrived because I would have noticed if it had arrived. The check was important.

I checked my electronic mail. While it loading I wonder if when email became popular letter carriers collectively sighed. This wouldn't be the end, though, I'm assured by the one I live with.  Netflix will save the postal service. Or at least keep it alive.

I go back in my inbox and find an email dated on the 13th. It reads that the check will be mailed the following day (14th) and sent priority. That was days ago, no, a week ago, week and days. It should have been here. Now, I'm worried. I replyed to the email that I did not get the delivery, and
what I plan to do about it.

My phone rings.

It's a response to the email. The priority package was sent. It was tracked, and it was delivered (on the 16th) to the address that it was sent to. There's nothing more to be said at this time. Only thinking can be done.

I get upset, then I take a shower. I get dressed, then I go outside. I look around. It's been over a week but I look around outside anyway. I lift the trash bin lid, the recycling bin's, the yard debris' but see nothing that remotely looks like a priority envelope. I think that the collector of these bins has come since the alleged delivery. My mind moves to landfills, to the thought of the next door neighbor kids sliding down the hill on the envelope.

I return inside and the phone rings again. I'm told a vital piece of information and then another. First I'm given the 23 digit tracking number. I write it down; it takes two lines. I'm also told by the sender that the zip code the package was sent to could have been wrong, that the entire street address could have been the street address of a previous residence of mine — I moved four months ago, almost to the day.

I hang up and call the post office with which I've had experience on another matter (see Kolb) and talk to Nancy and give her the tracking number. She confirms that a priority package was delivered to this zip code, she doesn't have the street address but says she would suspect that if someone got a package that didn't belong to them that they would hand it back over to the proper authority. Sure.

Have you ever opened something that came to your address that didn't have your name on it? That's mail tampering. It is illegal. We're talking federal crimes.

I bring Heidi. She knows the neighborhood. We ride down the streets of our past. Some things have changed. They're done with the condo on Hawthorne. There's construction on 20th before Division. Now, there's street bike parking by the Clinton condos. The photography studio near Powell Park is for sale. I drive up to 28th place, past the project apartments, and when I get to the house that was mine four months ago I notice some of the same cars. John's for instance. The blinds to the house are bent up. I across the street and approach with caution. I say to myself. I'm here for the envelope, then I knock on my former door.

I hear "Who is it?" but remain silent. I wait for an answer. I know he will answer and he does. I tell the man that I used to live here and that I'm looking for a piece of mail. He is scruffy and taller than I am, he introduces himself as Felix. He has a British accent and invites me into my former house. I barely recognize it. There's a bong on the table and beer cans and other trash everywhere. Felix tells me he doesn't live there, that he's visiting. We walk into the kitchen I once washed dishes in. It is filled with things I don't recognize. I look around. Where would a household like this keep mail? It could be anywhere. Someone is coming down the stairs I used to take. It almost seems like he knows who I am and why I'm there. I forgot noise in my former house carries, and there are gaps under the doors as thick as dictionaries.

He walks past me as Felix mentions that I'm here for a parcel. I say my name and that I used to live here. This gentleman knows why I'm here. He knows exactly where the priority envelope is. He pulls it out of a cabinet where I used to keep my Puffins, and hands it to me.

"Somebody accidentally opened it," he said. "But everything is in there."

I check for the check that I came for and see it. I'm nice about it. These guys didn't do their civic duty but they did give me what I came for.

"Thanks a lot, guys," I said. I think a lot might have been too much.