Stress Previews

One of the best things I have done is to sign up for UPS and FedEx’s package tracking services.  Basically, UPS/FedEx verifies that you own a street address, then every time a package comes in for that address, you get email updates on when the package will arrive and another notification when it is delivered.  It’s great.  Much better than having to get updates from whatever website you purchased an item from.

The USPS also has a service like that, which I also signed up for.  However, USPS has taken that service a step further.  Now they send you a picture of the mail you are getting.  How modern and cool.  It was an opt-in service, to which I opted in pretty much immediately.  What happens is, every day, you get an email with actual pictures of your mail in it.  You can see the from and to addresses and the postage (if you care about that).  You see the entire front of the envelope.  How awesome!

Soon, I started getting emails from USPS with images in them.  I quickly opened up the emails to see what I was getting.  There it is, my soon to be arriving mail!  And I quickly found out, I didn’t care.  Mail is not the same as a package.  And to be honest, I don’t think I would care to see a picture of my in-transit package.  It’s a box with a label on it.  Woo hoo!

Adding to the “don’t care” argument is the amount of junk mail I get.  I don’t get a ton of it, but any junk mail is too much.  Getting an email with a picture of a car dealership flyer is like a double insult.  Now I have to look at the fucking thing twice.  Once in an email and once more as it goes in the trash.  Then, there is this slight problem of my ex-wife’s mail (and junk mail) still coming to my house.  Yes, yes, I know I need to take care of that, but the trash can is sufficient for now.  Still, seeing that mail in advance doesn’t do anything for me.

And lastly, when I see a letter coming from the hospital, that is not marked as pre-sorted postage (i.e. junk), I get slightly freaked out.  Why would they be mailing me something?  Is it a bill?  Is it a late bill?  Have I been found to have a zombie virus?  And I can’t find out right now.  I have to wait.  But I know it’s coming, whatever it is.

Although it doesn’t apply to me at this time, what if my partner was getting mail that I wasn’t supposed to see?  Or vice versa?  That’s a situation I’d rather not deal with.

So, the USPS image preview concept is very cool, as a concept, but it is less than ideal in practice.  Personally, I think the issues outweigh the benefits.  We’ll have to see how long this experiment lasts.


  1. This is a good test of your anxiety meter. When will you hit your 11???