Quest to Reunite Misdelivered Packages

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A few months ago, someone posted on the local Madison Area Parents and Community (Original) Facebook page about what people do if mail or packages are misdelivered to your house. Some people commented that they valiantly search out the rightful owner and deliver it directly to their doorstep. (My daughter and I did this over the summer when we received a piece of junk mail for a house three blocks away. I also used it as an excuse for us to take a walk on a nice day.) Others commented that delivering it themselves, though nice, is actually the wrong thing to do. They felt that you should put the letters back in your mailbox marked “Please deliver to the correct address” or call the package delivery company to inform them that you will place the package outside your door for them to redeliver. They argued that USPS/FexEx/UPS needs to know when things are misdelivered so they can track who is making incorrect deliveries. Who knows the right thing to do. Seems to be kind of silly if you place a letter back in your mailbox for your direct next door neighbor. It would probably take a few extra days to get to them than if you walked over to drop it off.

A few years ago, I received a misdelivered package on my doorstep. Our street name is a man’s name, and the first name of the recipient was the same name, so I guess the delivery person misread the name for the street. (I thought there would be some sort of auto-tracking thing these days that would have alerted them to where the correct street was.) I was on my way out, and I knew where the street (Cedar) was, just a few blocks away, so I figured I’d just drop it off. Fortunately, when I delivered it, there was a man sitting on the front porch. I asked if he was the person on the package, and he’d never heard of that person. Well, turns out that there is both a Cedar Street and a Cedar Ave in Madison, only about half a mile apart. So off I went to find the right house.

Another time, I received a package that looked like mail-order medications. So, off I went to redeliver it. The recipient was so happy I did—he was in desperate need of his medication! I once got a flower delivery for a neighbor dropped on my doorstep. I walked it over and learned that his sister had passed away.

So, what happens if you receive something on your doorstep that was personally dropped off and has no address label? My friend was away during winter vacation, and was alerted by her Ring Doorbell that there was someone at her front door. She watched the video of a woman, whom she didn’t recognize, come up to the front door with a black case. She rang the doorbell, waited, then left the case on the doorstep. My friend knew she was away for several more days, so she asked her parents to stop by to get the case and check it out. Turns out, it was a saxophone. No note. No name tag. And she had no idea whose it was or who the woman was who left it. When she asked around, someone suggested contacting the school district music director, who gladly was able to reunite the musician with his instrument!

This morning, I woke up to a dejavu experience to the saxophone incident. Hung on my mailbox was a cellophane-wrapped package with a new dance bag, dance shoes, and a very generous gift certificate to a local dance shop. It had raffle tickets taped to the front, so it was clearly a tricky tray prize. I assumed that someone bought tickets but was not there to claim their prize, so the coordinators delivered it. I had remembered seeing some posts about a tricky tray event at the high school the night before, so I contacted the coordinator, explaining that I had mistakenly received the prize, but could deliver it to whichever neighbor won it. As I drove my 10-year-old daughter to school, we chatted about how nice it would have been if we had won that basket as she is continuously in musical theater shows. “That’s exactly the basket I would have put my tickets in, Mom.” When I returned from school drop-off, the phone rang. It was our kind neighbor from across the street. She had been at the high school tricky tray event, and had mistakenly put her tickets in the basket for the dance prize—and won it! Her kids are grown, so she had no use for the prize, but kindly thought of my daughter. Wow! So, the misdelivered package was not actually misdelivered. And we love it! Thanks, Mary!