Where Have Values Gone?

Friday I was faced with a dilemma I wasn’t expecting which brought me to question how my values differ from the rest of mainstream society.  It got me thinking how you would have handled the situation.

Earlier this month I ordered a couple of books I couldn’t find locally either new or used or at the library and raw sunflower seeds which aren’t available here either.  The expected date of delivery was Friday but when it didn’t arrive I checked the tracking information and found my package had been marked as delivered on Thursday.


I called the post office to see if they recalled the package arriving and if it was delivered. I was assured by my carrier, a woman I adore, that she in fact put it next to my door.  Well, I didn’t have it.  I was told to call the police as they have a good record of solving the situation in town when this happens.  To make a long story shorter, after checking with a few of my neighbors I did in fact call the police.

The answer I received was to watch ebay and Craigslist as stolen merchandise usually ends up in one of those two places.  But the next piece of advice shocked me.  The officer told me to contact the post office and Amazon (where I purchased the items) and ask them to reimburse me for the missing package.

Here’s where my values were in conflict with the advice I received.  Once Amazon fulfilled the order and was informed delivery was successful, I believe they were no longer responsible for the merchandise.  Same would go for the post office. Once they set it by my door, assuming the package was intact and not damaged, they were no longer responsible for what happened to the package.

In the end, I decided to write a letter to post on the wall in both the laundry room and next to the mailboxes. It read as follows:

To the person who picked up the package sitting by the door of apartment (*)

You may not know me, so I’d like to offer you a bit of back ground.  Being in a wheelchair I am unable to get out to purchase items I feel are needed for my well-being during the winter months.  If you have my package, I would appreciate it being returned.  I am sure you have opened the box by now and if you are willing to return the contents but noticed an item you would like for me to share with you and are comfortable meeting me face-to-face I would be happy to share the items with you.  If not you are free to leave the box outside my door anonymously, with no further inquires on my part.

If you feel you need these items more than I do and choose not to return them there is nothing I can or will do about that, nor will I press charges should I learn who you are.  If this is the case I hope you get as much enjoyment from them as I would have.



I was just about to post this letter when I received a call from the college student who lives above.  He had just returned  Sunday morning from a sporting event.  He found a slip in his mailbox informing him he had a package waiting pick-up at the post office.  But when he went upstairs to his apartment he found my package sitting at his door.

The entire thing was a simple error by the mail person who trying to stay on schedule had his apartment number in her head and left my package at the wrong door.   I am relieved I waited two days to post the notice which basically accused one of my neighbors of theft.

While this had a happy ending, I find myself still reflecting on the advice I received to insist one of the parties involved in the shipment of my purchase cover my financial loss.  Why do we feel it is okay to place blame on a blameless person or business?  Had my box been stolen it would have been a result of a bad egg in society, not the two parties who successfully carried out their end of the transaction.

Here’s the other part which bothers me.  The purchase didn’t strain my finances, it was a want more than a need, if I am being honest here.  I made a special arrangement to have any deliveries left at my door rather than inconvenience another person in inclement weather to run an errand for me.  The policy of the post office is not to leave packages in apartment buildings  to prevent possible thefts.  So had my package been stolen it was on me, no one else.

What would you have done if you believed you were the victim of a similar theft?  How do you feel about the advice I received from the officer?

31 thoughts on “Where Have Values Gone?

  1. I’m a little late in the game here Lois, but I’m with you 100%. Blame is something I want no part of. If something goes missing, I wait. Most of the time, it shows up oddly. I’m glad things turned out for you. I would not let Amazon or the Post Office cover the cost either but would make sure they didn’t leave the packages in the future unattended. There are a few out there that feel entitled. Stay warm. Hugs


    • Yes, Daniela, the blaming game is big, I am so tired of hearing the excuses, I’d rather hear the truth no matter what the situation was. I hope the officer who gave me this advice stops giving it as some are only too willing to act on it.


  2. Relieving to read this and the comments.
    The suing culture that the US is (sadly) famous for is now in the UK and beginning here in the rest of Europe. Always looking for someone to blame… we have often shaken our heads about this misplaced sense of entitlement that is spreading. In so many situations it just ‘is’ and there is no blame to be laid, plus of course a certain moral code that we are losing. I find most folks are friendly and helpful, however especially younger people often look for somebody to blame :(


    • Unfortunately, I have to agree with you that some of the worst behaviors have started in my home country of the US. I too hate the entitlement attitude of so many. Like you I find most people honest and helpful and try to keep that in mind when I encounter a person without the same values I hold dear.


  3. I love the way you handled this, Lois. Many people are very quick to blame – when did this start anyway?

    I have seen it over and over again, there are way more GOOD people out there than BAD, why must we assume that everything that happens is someone else’s fault?

    My husband once found a woman’s wallet in a department store, learned where she lived, delivered it and the woman snatched it out of his hand as if HE had stolen it? Beyond rude and an example of blaming others for one’s own mistake!


  4. Lois, I’m glad you had a happy ending to your story. I, too, hate the way things are going in regard to blaming the innocent party. Something similar happened to me a couple of months ago.

    I am quite a clumsy person and make a habit of falling UP stairs for some reason. Anyway one particular day I was with a friend in a local shopping centre. I wasn’t paying attention to the stairs I was walking up and tripped, hurting my leg quite badly. Plenty of people came over to make sure I was okay, but the first thing one woman said was “stay down.” I wasn’t sure what she meant first of all and then it suddenly clicked and I jumped up as quickly as I could with an injured leg, just as the centre’s security guard arrived. The lady seemed shocked that I didn’t say down, to which I responded with “madam, I don’t know how you were raised, but I was raised to take responsibility for my own actions. In this case I was not paying attention and I tripped and fell. That was no fault of the shopping centre or anyone else, and quite frankly I am disgusted that anyone would have the mindset to try and blame a completely innocent party for the actions of another.”

    Thankfully she had the grace to look ashamed and apologised to me and the security guard, so we let it go. But I just thought if that’s going to be the mindset of my species now, I don’t want to be human anymore. What ever happened to honesty and taking responsibility for our actions?

    Sorry for the tangent Lois. These kinds of events really irk me!


    • Don’t apologize, Eimear, I agree with you. Everyone is out for the quick buck at anyone’s expense and it’s sickening.

      I have a few stories myself. Years ago, before I took my boys out of school to home school I worked very hard to fix the system. I was the vice president of the PTO and was fortunate in those years to have a surplus of funds where we were able to have a new playground built. We chose to go with wood, being more sustainable than the plastic sets sold today and had it installed by a contractor and inspected for insurance purposes. A mother remarked to me, (our boys played together) that she didn’t approve of the wooden playground and hoped one of her children would get seriously hurt so she could sue the district and never have to work again. I was so shocked I had no reply. Who would wish an injury of any kind on their child simply to gain a windfall of money to live a life of leisure? Needless to say, the only thing I could think of was to go to the district superintendent I had a working relationship with and confide the details of the conversation. I withheld the name of the person but promised should I hear of a lawsuit of any kind by this person I would testify against her and provide the full details of the conversation.

      This isn’t the world I want children growing up in. I much prefer the mindset of past generations who believed you worked for everything you got.


      • Gosh that’s so shocking. We have a saying here in Ireland when parents do very questionable things, “and you need a licence to have a dog.” What we’re basically saying is that any moron can have a child. It’s frightening to think that people would use their children for financial gain, but then that’s unfortunately the way the world is going. People want all the rights, and none of the responsibilities.

        You made the right call in both situations Lois. I just hope someday I won’t be as quick to accuse another of stealing. The lack of wisdom of the youth I suppose!


        • Our saying is “you have to have a driver’s license to drive but nothing to have a child” Pretty much the same thought. :-)

          Eimear, you have a good head on your shoulders, look how you handled the incident at the store. I’m sure the security person was shocked as well by your reaction.


  5. Lois I had a package that was taking ages to arrive, and eventually was contacted by the company, to let me know that the post office had delivered my parcel to the same street number and suburb, but completely different street! Luckily for the company and me, the woman who lived there rang them. I then went and picked up the parcel. It was heartwarming to see that there are still honest people in the world. I agree with you that if the company has delivered the parcel to the correct address, and it has been stolen, they shouldn’t be liable.


    • Jen, I’m glad you got your package. I believe there are more honest people than not,it’s just that we hear about the negative stories more than the positive ones giving us a skewed picture of society.


  6. here is a similar, but different sort of story.

    about a year ago, shortly before Christmas, I and family arrived home to find a large (more than two by two feet) box on the door step. picked it up, carried it in, and was automatically about to rip it open (we were occupied and distracted), and suddenly it occurred to me we weren’t expecting any parcels/xmas gifts or such.

    read the name/address, and of course it was not us.

    hubby phoned the delivery company (well known and international name), and they assured him, someone would be out later that evening to pick it up. no show. he called back in morning. oh, be out by lunch. no show. he called once more…again no show.

    so, he looked up and called the company named as sender (all the way across the country). well, they were surprised, it should have been delivered days ago. “oh well, don’t worry about it, they said” (huh????). some further conversation on hubby’s part, basically same response. (company insisted, too late to worry about it, likely customer had already placed a claim)..sheesh.

    next morning, hubby took big black marker, crossed out name and address on it, and marked “RETURN TO SENDER’
    and took it back to Post Office.

    more weird responses…
    “was he sure he REALLY wanted to send it back” (YES)
    etc etc

    (man he was getting ticked)

    then postal clerk insisted he add some more things on the label, cn’t recall what.

    so, he made the changes, and left it there.

    well, after he got back, and all the bizarre (to us) responses, we all wondered

    a) did the postal clerk keep the box?
    b) just what was IN the box (grin)


    • Lynn, your story points out just how hard it can be to live an honest life.

      I have opened mail that wasn’t mine only to realize it was addressed to another person, in my town. In my embarrassment I have hand delivered the mail to the intended recipient with my apologies. In each occasion (it’s only happened a few times) the person was honestly shocked and appreciative of my time and honesty.

      We are living in a very different world than the one we used to know. Good for you and your husband for doing what you felt was the right thing to do.


      • well, thank you. I suspect you are wondering why we did not just drop it off at the address/name on the package? well, a few reasons, we hesitated to do so
        a)after calling the sender/company, and them saying it was likely claimed, didn’t seem “right” for them to get two.
        b)someone (the delivery company, especially after our call) KNEW it had been dropped at our house. if we delivered it to the address, and they denied it, we wondered “would someone say we took it?”
        c)when we googled the name, it did not match the address …now of course they could have moved
        d)it was not in the “best” area , and we wondered if it might possibly be “unsafe”…
        d)so, all in all, we thought the delivery company/or the sender should take care of it..

        but you are so right, sometimes very hard to do the right thing…

        Years ago when my Mother was alive, there were two dodgy occasions…one parcel sent by bus courier (greyhound), and on a different occasion sent by postal mail.

        now, she lived in a fairly small place, so honestly I would not likely have carried through my “suggestion” due to it likely to cause her grief..but

        something similar happened on each of these occasions (and remember they were sent by two different routes)

        I called to see how she liked the parcel, many days in a row, when parcel should have been there…

        on each occasion, she was told parcel had not shown up.
        well, I was short on funds, and did not have money to buy/mail parcels goods again, and she needed this stuff.

        so (as was suggested to me), I sort of suggested a “ruse” to her..
        I told her I had heard there had been terrible problems with thefts with parcels sent by each of these two methods (these were separate and months apart, so this happened twice)..
        I asked my Mom, to go around the seniors apartment she was in (easy to do as it had communal area), and mention the missing parcel (to anyone who would listen, and believe me those old folks had time to listen), and mention how distressed her daughter was, and her daughter had been TOLD that missing parcels were such a HUGE problem that the police were running investigations, and wanted particulars.

        in each of the cases she got a call the next morning to pick up her parcel… each time with some comment to the effect, it had been missed somehow and put under the counter/in back cupboard

        and this they tried to steal from a sick old lady..

        nice folks


        • Lynn, you gave that much thought and I would have returned it to the sender as well under the circumstances.

          As for your mother’s packages, nothing like a group of seniors who gang up on the carrier. They probably would have done anything to stop the inquiries.

          A good friend had something similar happen many years ago. A Christmas package was sent to her family, it never arrived and after repeated inquires let it drop. Months later she was touring the post office with her girl scout troop and spotted her package on a shelf.

          I’ve hear the post office here in the US was considering stopping Saturday deliveries and closing some rural offices, but the new budget has funded full services. I don’t know why, UPS and FedEx have been doing a much better job of shipping and making a profit doing it unlike the post office run by the government which loses a vast amount each and every year.


  7. ah Lois, I think the “clincher” here, is that this is not the delivery policy, and at your request it was left (against policy) at your door. In similar situation, I would have felt the onus was on me to take the liability.

    having said that, the note you wrote (but did not post), was champion.

    still and all, most glad it all worked out.


  8. Well, personally I would have felt like you did. I wouldn’t have blamed the post office or Amazon. It’s lying isn’t it? I would have let it go, or like you posted a letter and see what happens. I think the police officer steered you wrong. If people kept getting refunds from Amazon for things like this, as it was no fault of theirs, I think it is like any other store. They up their price and we all end up on the wrong end of the stick.


    • Jackie, it is good to know I am not alone. Lying or theft, either one would make me feel horrible. It brought back memories of almost 20 years ago when I fell outside a business and shattered my ankle. My insurance upon learning where I fell refused to pay any of my hospital bills, when surgery and plenty of metal went into fixing the problem the bill was too high for me to pay myself. The insurance for the business refused to pay the medical bills for me, which was all I was asking. I had to hire a lawyer to help me which upped the amount I now needed to receive. In the end, the business contracted with a new insurance company who immediately called to apologize and offer a settlement.

      While I was not in the wrong, there was a problem with the area which caused my fall and I had insurance that refused to pay, once I hired the lawyer I was too ashamed to ever face the business and its employees. I don’t believe in suing for every little thing and for me to sue went so against my values it led to humiliation, a feeling that I sacrificed my own values for restitution.

      Anyway, the advice from the officer left me with that same feeling, that his advice was wrong and sacrificed honesty.


  9. Wow, Lois. I was on the edge of my seat with this one – as I thought it would have an ending like…”and two days later, it was on my doorstep with a note of apology.” I am befuddled by the officer’s comment because, as you say, it’s not Amazon’s fault nor the post office (once they said they delivered it). I would not have thought about the note, but I think it would be effective if indeed someone had stolen your package. I’m glad it all ended positively – except for that lingering feeling that officers are supposed to uphold the law, and I’m not sure that the advice he gave you sounds very legal.


    • Tammy, I hadn’t thought about the legality of the advice only that it felt like a theft on my part should I follow through with it and in direct conflict with how I want to live my life. Sorry if the end of my story was a bit of a let-down for you. I didn’t realize the post would come off as a thriller or mystery. :-)

      Thanks for reinforcing how I felt about where the blame should be placed.


  10. Ooo very interesting – I too got a ‘package’ disappearo’ed on me whilst I was away, a gift sent to my old address, diligently hand delivered to the new one, and for it to be missing 24hrs later when I got home! I mentioned it to the gift giver, but it’s a ‘nice to have’ not a ‘need to have’, so I haven’t mentioned it to the vendor.

    Your note was good, I thought, and true to you. I’ll share, or you can have what you need. Very nice. And I think, when you explain that you’ve made special ‘parcel dropping off’ arrangements, it’d be unfair to blame the post office, or the delivery woman. Likewise Amazon. But it is tempting when these places know that oil will quieten a squeaky wheel who might endlessly complain about a package! To reimburse you is such a small drop in the ocean to them, but I agree, it’s not morally correct at all.


    • Sarah, I’m sorry you had a package disappear on you. I wonder if this problem would diminish some if we knew our neighbors again.

      I decided to share the note with you because it really is how I would react should it have been a theft and the person met me.

      I agree, it might keep a customer, say in the case of Amazon, but if every package stolen were to be reimbursed wouldn’t that up the prices for everyone in the same way retail stores up prices to cover theft?


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