The slow mail deliveries

This cartoon published Friday, hit a nerve with many people. The postal service is getting worse and worse. We get our mail late – days late and late in the day – some days our mail carrier arrives at 6 pm. One day our carrier had a special delivery at 10 am, she handed me the 10 am package and then I asked where is the rest of the mail? She said, “I’ll deliver it later in the day.” I said, “But you are here now!”

Years ago, the mail arrived late at our office, so I got a PO Box and rather than wait till closing time to get our mail for the day, I would be able to pick it up early in the morning – it was always at the PO Box early and I could grab it on my way into the office.

Last summer I ordered a book from a lady in California. It literally took a month to reach me in Miami. She mailed it June 3 and it arrived July 3. After all that time I never ended up liking the book – it was a graphic novel on cartooning, but I found it boring.

I had a very nice Etsy business going months before the presidential election. I was selling lots of political things – hats, t-shirts, etc. it was turning into quite a large business. We would ship the items in three days and the post office took a month or more to deliver! People were getting so upset and I was concerned about them not receiving the merchandise in time, before the election, so I stopped selling the stuff months before election day – losing thousands of dollars in the process! I returned so much money, too because of constant complaints.

I used a print-on-demand company that shipped the stuff via UPS, but then after a day or two it ended up at the USPS and there they sat for weeks or a month before they were delivered!

One time, a few years back, it took two months for my condo maintenance check to reach our accountant. And it only goes a few blocks away. I think they thought I was lying about paying it, but when it finally showed up they saw I had mailed it months before.

I hear that the guy running the post office wants it to go commercial; rather than have the government run it, have a private company run it. I’m not sure how that would work because he would lose his job if that happened, right? So maybe that’s not true. Who knows. But in this day and age, you would assume the US mail could arrive fast and on time.

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I left my cell phone in an Uber

I left my cell phone in an Uber the other day. You can imagine what that’s like.

I had taken the Uber to pick up my car, which was in for service. I had the driver leave me at a supermarket, which is in the same shopping center where the car was being worked on.

Anyway, she left me off across the lot, in front of the supermarket and as soon as I got out, I realized I didn’t have my phone. And there she went, driving off.

Luckily there was traffic in the parking lot and she wasn’t going that fast, but every time I reached the car, she drove on a bit. I kept reaching the back of the car and she kept driving more. I kept calling out, “Wait! Stop!” I’m sure people were looking at me wondering what happened. I’m glad I can run fast.

Finally I managed to run around to the front of the car and stop her and I got the phone. I’m glad I had her drop me on the other side of the shopping center, because if she had dropped me off where the car was, she would have been on the highway and long gone.

It’s scary how much we rely on our cell phones.

A couple of years ago, my cousins, mother and son, dropped me off at the train in Queens, NY so I could get the subway back to the city. As I walked up the steps (it was an El train, at Woodside, Queens), I realized I didn’t have my phone, I had left it in their car.

As I rode back to the city I realized I had no way to reach them, I didn’t know their home or cell numbers. It’s funny how we remembered all the numbers in the past, but these days we don’t need to, unless you lose your phone of course. So as was on my way back to the city, I tried to think of how to reach them. I didn’t know anyone else’s numbers and so I couldn’t call my cousins or aunt or whatever. I thought I would call my parents, I remember their number and then have them call my cousins and arrange something.

You fell so naked without the phone, your who life is on there.

When I got back to the city, realized I could leave a message for my cousins on Facebook. I did that and we arranged for me to pick up the phone the next day – in Hoboken of all places, one of my favorite places. One of my cousins works in Hoboken and I ended up going at lunch time and I got my phone and we had lunch.

I always wonder how people lose their phones, but it’s quite an easy thing to do.

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There’s always that one . . .

There is always one comment left on my cartoons that bothers me. I could have thousands of people like a cartoon, but the one person who makes a negative comment gets to me. But haters gonna hate.

I try not to leave negative comments on any social media posts. I don’t see the need for it. I have a friend who had a friend who used to do food reviews for the NY Times and she told my friend that if she went to a restaurant that she didn’t like, she did nothing. She just didn’t write about them. She felt that there was no point giving press to a place she didn’t like and what was the point of writing that she didn’t like the place.

I tried to live by that. What is the point of ruining someone’s day, usually a total stranger, for no reason at all.

But again, I get tons of nice comments and accolades, but the one person who probably isn’t intelligent enough to get the joke ruins my day.

I am trying to get a thicker skin. I guess any attention is good attention. I noticed years ago when I was written up in a publication during my daily news days, even if the write up was negative, my numbers would go up in readership and social media followers. As the saying goes, “Any news is good news,” or even better, “Say what you want about me, just spell my name right!”

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The IRS letter

Informed delivery by USPS

I get pictures of my mail early in the morning so that I know what’s coming in the mail that day. I did this awhile back so when I’m traveling I can see if something important arrived and needs my attention. I have one of my neighbors take my mail in when I’m out of town, so I can easily ask her to open a particular piece if need be and I’m up to date with whatever it is.

Of course, that has never happened yet, but never-the-less, I have pictures of my mail come about 9 am each day. You can get this service, too, if you want, it’s called Informed Delivery, a service of the US Postal Service.

The issue with my mail is that it arrives about 6 pm, which sucks. The day is over by the time the mail arrives, but even worse, when you see something in the Informed Delivery email – good or bad – you have to wait for it to arrive all day.

The other morning, I saw that the IRS sent me a letter. What was it? Did I owe them money? Was I in trouble? It didn’t appear to be a check, so all day I worried about it.

At about 5:30 pm (the delivery was early that day), I ran out and got the mail. The letter from the IRS was informing me that my refund, which should have arrived months ago, is going to have interest added to it, since the IRS is late with it. I can relax now after worrying all day.

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At the right place at the right time

I had to laugh when I saw this cartoon by Ellis Rosen today, not just because it’s funny, but because I was thinking of this very situation at the moment I saw this on Instagram. My friend jak would say that’s a case of being in the right place at the right time.

I was talking to one of my neighbors about a delivery that was missing. Amazon delivered it, but she couldn’t find it.

I live in a small condo and deliveries are always left on a table down by the elevator, but her package was missing. What happened was, the delivery guy brought the packages up the stairwell, rather than leave them downstairs. Basically, no one uses the stairwell here, it’s an emergency exit, people use the elevator. I do use the stairwell, as I like to take the stairs for exercise, so I had seen the packages yesterday.

The elevator opens up into our units. There is no hallway or corridor. We use key fobs and each unit has its own code/fob and the elevator opens up right in your living room, which sounds cool, but it does get old after a week.

Anyway, there have always been screw ups with the elevator, the door would just open randomly, or the key fob doesn’t work and all the units are left unlocked, etc. So that’s where the cartoon comes in. I was thinking of the Amazon delivery and also of the time I came into my living room to find the FedEx delivery guy standing there with my package. He got into the elevator, because the fob system was not working, he pushed my unit button and there he was – in the living room.

I could not get mad at him or the Amazon guy, since they both went out of their ways to bring the deliveries up where they could have just left them down on the table in the lobby.

As I was thinking this, I saw the cartoon above pop up – a case of being in the right place at the right time. jak always said that when you hear a word on tv or radio or hear someone say it as you are reading it at the same time – that’s a case of being in the right place at the right time. Same thing when you say a word or phrase and someone else says it at the same time in person or on tv.

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Birthdays, kayaks and getting back to normal

For the past week my life has been kayaks and birthday lunches.

I’ve never been one for birthdays, I don’t see any reason to celebrate getting older, and of course my mother always cries when I say that and she thinks I wish I never was born, which of course is not the case. I just don’t like to make a fuss over it.

So usually my birthday comes and goes and my family does something, usually a cake on pizza night or something, but I guess because of the pandemic coming to an end, people want to get out, so I’ve been having lunches almost daily with different people, who are asking to take me out for my birthday, which was almost a week ago – yet the lunches keep going on and I’m loving it. I have a lot of Gemini friends, so there are lots of other birthdays during this period, so we have been celebrating those, too. So it’s been one big Gemini party lately.

For years I went out to lunch almost daily with different friends, and family, on different days and it was just the norm, but over time it seemed to stop, but it’s back and I’m loving it.

One of the local restaurant owners saw me on the street and started complaining about the fate of restaurants these days and he said I look so relaxed and happy and don’t have a wrinkle on my face, which he meant as a put down, but of course, I took it as a compliment, especially on my birthday, the day he actually said that to me. I had to remind him that the pandemic affected everyone, not just him.

As for the kayak/canoe saga, my kayak friend traded in that blow-up thing for an actual canoe. He had some guy with a trailer bring it over to my house to store here so we can easily take it out on the water, but haven’t yet. The bay has been choppy, maybe due that big beautiful full moon. Did you see it?

He came over to try it out, to see if it worked in the water without any leaks. It’s an old, ugly canoe, and therein lies the rub. One of my neighbors objected to it being on the property. “I’m trying to make the place look nice and you have that piece of crap hanging on the wall?” He offered to buy a nice new wooden one for us all to use, something he called “Hamptons-style.”

So I told him to just wait it out, my friend will get bored and get rid of the canoe, although he didn’t take it well when I told him it had to go.

I normally would fight it and say that I live here too, I have rights. But the thing is ugly, it is not going to be used, and my neighbor always does things for me – like buy me a brand new canoe, which I am going to decline. It makes no sense for him to do that.

So between that and lunches with friends (he was one of them that took me out), that’s what’s been going on around here. Business has been picking up, so that’s great and I’m getting ready for summer travel, so that is great, too. Little by little things are returning to normal, let’s hope they stay that way.

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The waiter and the water

After this cartoon was published today, it reminded me of a priest we used to have. Some years ago, Father Eddie was one of our priests. He was from a Latin country I think, but his accent sounded like Dracula. I loved it!

One time he was preaching and he was talking about Jesus turning water into wine, but he kept getting the words “waiter” and “water” mixed up.

He would said, “The water brought the waiter and then Jesus stunned the water by turning the waiter into wine.” Ha, I laugh when I think about it – he turned the waiter into wine.

I haven’t thought of Father Eddie in years, but again, I used to love his Dracula accent.

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Faded pictures

I was looking through pictures of our kayaking adventure and also pictures from when my friend was in town in April. A lot happened – went to the zoo, Everglades, etc. But I don’t have many pictures. Is it possible we are finally, as a society, getting over taking pictures of everything, including our lunch every day?

There was a time where we took pictures of everything. My friend likes to post “stories” on Instagram, which disappear in 24 hours, so he doesn’t have any photos to see or save.

I used to take so many pictures of everything, sort of documenting my whole life. When I published the daily news, I literally would have 150 photos of an event I attended and then I would have to go through every one of those photos and edit them down to a handful that I would publish. I finally learned, after so many years of that to just edit as I went along. I would take maybe 12 photos and then whittle that down to 9 or 10. And this way, I literally cut out hours worth of work going through images.

But now I sort of don’t take pictures of things. When we went kayaking, my biggest fear in that rubber raft was sinking. Not so much drowning, but sinking and losing my keys and my phone. But I left them home and went out “naked” so to speak, and it was so much more relaxing not having to worry about anything.

I remember once I went out and left my phone at home and rather than panic, I was totally relaxed.

So I’m wondering now if we are letting up on the photos. For one thing it’s rude when you are with people, you know, you’re out and about and maybe at lunch and you are taking photos of everything. I don’t even answer the phone when it rings when I’m with people. I try to think of years ago when we didn’t have that option, so why is it so important now? Let people wait, you don’t need to text right back or answer right away or take pictures of your lunch all the time.

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It’s all going the way of the payphone

I was thinking that I need to get new photos for press stories and things like that. In the past, the publications would send out a staff photographer or someone to take the pictures. I don’t ever remember sending in my own photos. Even news channels would send out a reporter or someone with a camera and they would film you somewhere. Now it’s all zoomed in. In the past a tv station would call me up about a local issue and ask if they could send a reporter or guy with a camera over – and more times than not, they wanted me in the center of town to do the interview. This is when I published the daily news and was considered some sort of know-it-all. I wan’t, but the media thought that.

So many old ways may be gone now that the pandemic has set new rules. And even before the pandemic things were disappearing. I think kids these days only know what a phone booth is thanks to old Superman tv shows and movies.

Newspapers and magazines don’t send out photographers for a quick photo anymore due to the pandemic, but – I think in the future we’ll just send in photos like we’re doing now, which saves them time and money. And of course printed newspapers and books are going the way of online and kindle. So many offices won’t return to normal. Why pay thousands of dollars in rent for an office when people can easily work from home? Like this cartoon shows, maybe only zoom calls will be the office norms from now on.

I was reading that shared touch screens may disappear – you know, like ATM’s and things like that. People will maybe use their smart phones to navigate through things like that. Many people order food online or on their phones and then pick up the stuff, I do that. I do it with Starbucks and Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain and Sweet Green and for many years, I would order food myself at the location, on a touch screen at Panera, which of course, may just end up being my cell phone since touch screens may be a thing of the past.

Recently when I went to the zoo with my friend, I purchased the tickets online. It was more about being sure we got the tickets since they are controlling the visitor count these days.

And handshakes, will they ever come back? I never was a big hand shaker or a hugger and maybe we won’t do that in the future. Maybe we’ll bow like they do in Japan. It seems more respectful to bow, doesn’t it?

I have not physically paid a parking meter for years. I pay for parking, but I use a phone to pay for it. And maybe there will be no parking meters in the future, since the phone knows when the meter is up and no one has to drive by to check on that.

Some years ago, a friend who worked at a bank, told me that bank tellers would be a thing of the past – and so they are. I take a picture of a check and send it to the bank that way, without ever stepping inside the bank. I transfer money, pay bills (and don’t use checks either, I do that online) and things like that.

That reminds me of when I was in high school, I worked at a newspaper and at that time we had to typeset and put everything together separately – the headlines, the main galleys/type, the photos, it was a jigsaw puzzle. Our boss told us of the future, where there would be something called “pagination” where the whole page would come out as one piece, we could not fathom that, we listened in awe.

My brother Chris used to be in the computer business, when home PC’s were all sort of new. I asked him one time if it was possible to have different fonts put in the system, so that when I was doing my graphics and newspaper business, I could use different fonts for ads, text, headlines, etc. He said it might be possible, but it would take some super programming to do! Ancient history now.

I walked into one bank that is a coffee shop, I was there yesterday, in fact. The first time I walked in a year or so ago, I asked where the bank was and someone pointed to one or two teller machines in the back of the coffee shop. So now banks are coffee shops, where you of course, can order your coffee on your phone.

I joke at my local Starbucks that the app is great – “I don’t have to talk to any of you this way! I just order and go!”

At Whole Foods in some locations now, you swipe your hand and you pay that way. I use Apple Pay and swipe that and I also use their QR code on my phone for discounts. Even the NYC subway now uses a QR code rather than a card to get on the subway. The card of course, replaced tokens.

At one hotel I stayed at, I used my cell phone to unlock my room door. The room key, became a key card which now became an app. I have ordered and bought plane tickets for years online or on my phone and at the airport I check in myself and don’t even use a paper boarding pass – it’s a QR code on my phone. The first time I converse with someone during this whole process is to say hello to the attendant at the gate as they check my boarding pass on my phone.

Real estate is selling online these days in a hot market. People buy from digital showings and don’t even show up at the properties. And cars! My next car will be bought online. And I’ll have it delivered to the house and have my old car picked up. Sort of like you buy mattresses now!

We order rides, we order food, we order groceries online and even read books (and comics) on our phones now. It’s all in our pocket – including zoom calls – you don’t even need a computer to zoom.

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Am I trending? They seem to think so

So I’m getting some European love! Nora Gouma, a fashion/people magazine did a little feature on me.

They had seen my Ten With Tom feature in the Huffington Post and turned that back on me and did 10 questions with me.

I hadn’t done the 10 With Tom feature for awhile, but the feature is still popular. I guess when people Google certain celebs, my column comes up, so it’s always got some traction. I may bring it back, I’m in talks with the Huff Post. I have a bunch of the 10 With Tom columns here in tact in this blog.

Anyway, I see from a few of my recent press articles, that I need some new pics. Because of the pandemic, they aren’t sending people out to take pictures and I have to send the pictures in myself. I guess this European publication would not have sent anyone, but the Miami Herald and others would have when they did stories.