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How late is late?

I've censored out the identifying parts of the address to protect the innocent.

I had an interesting piece of mail land in my mailbox earlier today (Friday). I’ve scanned it for your viewing pleasure.

I don’t know how much you can actually tell from the scanned envelope, but it’s a letter that was returned to the sender (me). I instantly recognized what it was, considering the odd format of the envelope, but I began to wonder why the hell this was arriving in my mail now.

You see, I recognized it as one of the Christmas cards I sent out to friends and associates, and as I examined the date stamped on top of the postage stamps to confirm, it was indeed sent at the beginning of December last year. The perceptive of you will also notice that the date printed on the “return to sender” label at the bottom of the envelope is August 22. This year.

Since it was posted and stamped December 3, it took the various postal services exactly nine months from the time I sent the letter to the time it was returned back to me. About eight and a half of these months was apparently spent figuring out that the destination address didn’t exist. Letters and post cards between Norway and the United States usually takes one or two weeks, or up to a full month if you’re unlucky.

What boggles my mind is, what kind of postal limbo has this Christmas card been in for the last 8 months? Has some joker had it on their desk for their own amusement? Did the P.O. box facility drop it under some piece of furniture, and found it during a more extensive office cleaning? I guess I will never know.

And the person I tried to send this to received one less Christmas card last year.

As a side note, I’d like to explain the three postage stamps attached to the envelope; the one on the far right is a non-denominated postage stamp (“valørløst frimerke”). This type of stamp was introduced by the Norwegian postal service in 2005, and is comparable to so-called “forever stamps” in the U.S. The design used on the stamp on this particular envelope is from a series of Norwegian rock pioneers (this one is about Per “Elvis” Granberg – a Norwegian artist who lived from 1941-1980 and was heavily influenced by Elvis Presley). The other two stamps (green and red/orange) have been added for additional postage to the U.S. (that is, in addition to the value of the “forever stamp”).

In any case, and to repeat myself, I’m about as baffled as you are as to why it was returned to me now.