Saturday, 30 July 2011

Return to sender, address unknown*

(*'Return to Sender' by Winfield Scott and Otis Blackwell)

One of my secondary functions as a hospital volunteer is to distribute patients' mail. This is not an onerous task but it does have it's moments. As a consequence I have renewed respect for the trusty professional postman.

The post

I suppose about 95% of received patients' mail is deliverable; that is, the addressee is an inpatient at the time of the mail's arrival.

Of the balance, some can be forwarded on to patients who have already been discharged or held for those who are booked in but have not yet been admitted.

Mail for persons who are not booked in can be returned where a return address has been provided.

Then there is the mail where the handwriting is so poor that the addressee cannot be deciphered. I am fascinated that some people who presumably believe their writing is legible provide totally illegible addressee details.

More irritating is mail from those who have the quaint, old fashioned, and ridiculously anachronistic practice of addressing females by their husband's initials. So a letter for Jane Doe is addressed as Mrs X Doe where X is the husband's initial. That is not such a problem where the woman possesses an unusual family name but if the addressee is a Smith or a Jones, for example, and we have multiple inpatients with that family name then tracking down which of those patients, if any, is the intended addressee is very annoying indeed.

But this week came the letter that takes the cake, so far. Sent all the way from somewhere in Saudi Arabia it was addressed simply to The Purple Wiggle! We had to look up the internet to check which Wiggle was the purple one and what his name is. As it turned out, the Purple Wiggle was not a patient of the hospital.

The Purple Wiggle


  1. A gay wiggle, Evol? You know more about them than I do.

  2. Sure not getting mixed up with the gay teletubbie?

  3. Good grief, Marcellous. Gay teletubbies too! What are our children being taught?!?