I forced the lock.
Four days after Canada Post was supposed to have fixed the problem, and after 10 days with no mail, I took matters into my own hands.
Canada Post ended door-to-door delivery in my neighbourhood in October, despite a promise from the new Liberal government to put conversion to community mailboxes on hold. I wasn’t surprised – they were making so many unrealistic promises during the election campaign they probably couldn’t keep track of them all. Anything for a vote, and worry about the consequences later.
So this is my first winter with a community mailbox, and I am underwhelmed. It’s Canada, we have cold; the things should be designed so they don’t freeze. And if you can’t do that, then make sure you have staff to unfreeze them in a timely fashion.
That apparently is not the case. When I complained to Canada Post that they had not fixed the problem within the promised three days I was basically told it wasn’t their problem. So I took matters into my own hands.
Why didn’t I do it sooner? Because it is not my job. It is the post office’s responsibility to ensure I can have access to my mail. I was willing to give them the chance to fix it, within reason. Only then did I speed things up on my own.
Several people had suggested I use a lock de-icer, a solution I rejected. That would have required me to make a purchase, with unlikely prospects of reimbursement, to do something that was someone else’s responsibility. Why should I be out of pocket?
But after days of waiting and no apparent attempt by Canada Post to solve the problem, and no response to my complaint from my Member of Parliament, I decided to act. (It didn’t surprise me I didn’t hear from my MP – this is the same guy that has yet to respond to a letter I sent him in 2005.)
It was bitterly cold, but I figured that was as good a day as any. I was expecting some cheques in the mail, including one from Canada Post itself for its last piece of non-service, and those didn’t do me any good sitting in the mailbox, if that indeed is where they were.
So I tried to put my key in the lock. As in the previous ten days I met with resistance; it wouldn’t go in. Before I had stopped there, not wanting to risk breaking my key or damaging the lock mechanism. This time I figured I had nothing to lose, so I pushed harder. Still nothing.
I jiggled the tip of the key up and down the slot. There appeared to be one spot with less resistance, so I pushed harder there. It seemed like it was giving way a little. So I applied even more force. Reluctantly the key was swallowed by the slot.
That didn’t completely solve the problem. The key was now in the lock, but didn’t turn. I pulled it out, then pushed it in again. At least now it would go into the lock without effort. But it didn’t want to turn. I figured if I forced it the key might break inside the lock. I also reasoned that if I didn’t force it I might not get any mail until Spring, given the glacial speed at which Canada Post seems to move.
So I applied force. Nothing happened, but at least the key didn’t break. So I tried again. Nothing. On the third attempt the key turned, the door opened and I was able to retrieve the pile of mail that had built up.
Now I have a working mailbox. At some point Canada Post may or may not show up to fix it. I’d tell them not to bother, but I don’t see on their website any way to cancel a service request. Not to mention that at least one of my neighbours has the same problem, judging from the note that has been on the mailbox for more than a week.
I’m thinking it will be a long time before they show up. I’m supposed to get an email when they fix the problem, so I’ll let you know.