USPS Carriers Reveal the Weirdest Mail They've Delivered
It's not just catalogs, checks, and coupons going through the system.
Delivering mail is not as simple as you might think. From aggressive animals and angry customers to dangerous routes and unpredictable weather, mail carriers deal with a lot just to get your mail to you. On top of it all, they are entrusted with safely delivering millions of people's private information and personal items. As it turns out, it's not all checks, catalogs, and coupons going through the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) system. Aside from all the usual suspects, postal carriers have also been tasked with delivering some pretty odd things. To give you a sense of just how odd, we've rounded up five of the weirdest things USPS carriers say they've delivered. Read on to find out the surprising things people have sent through the mail.
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A singular piece of food
It's not unusual for people to send assortments of baked goods in care packages, but postal carriers reveal that they have encountered strange instances of people ditching boxes entirely to mail out a singular piece of food. A Reddit user by the name of @postalozano revealed in a USPS community thread that they've delivered a potato before. "I thought it was hilarious, but one of our clerks let me know that it was most likely a veiled threat," the user wrote. "Either way, so weird."
In the same thread, at least seven other users said they have delivered a coconut at one point. And another commenter replied that they had come across a "single banana that had been squished among the packages" at their processing center. "[We] first thought that the banana belonged to co-workers or something, but then getting a closer look we saw that banana had stamps and address on it," the commenter wrote.
Some customers take the idea of being more grounded a little too literally, it seems. Larry Adams, a former postal employee of more than 30 years, revealed in 2019 that the "most unusual package" he witnessed being sent through the USPS system was gravel. According to Adams, it was shipped in a large Priority Flat Rate Box, and the package ended up weighing just a couple ounces shy of the agency's 70-pound weight limit.
"Everyone who had to handle the package just laughed when the customer picked it up [from my office]," he wrote in a Quora thread, adding that they laughed "even more when he opened it and showed us what was inside."
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If you think someone sending bees through the postal system is odd, you might be even more weirded out to find out that more than one USPS worker has a story about this. In 2020, a Reddit user going by @Masqueraver said there was a time around 2018 when he would end up delivering at least 10 bee hives per day. "Not just the queen bee in a small box, but the entire colony in a wood [and] wire mesh contraption," he wrote. "No one else would handle them but me."
John Lloyd, a former USPS employee of more than 35 years, revealed in a 2019 Quora thread that he also saw bees fairly often when working for the agency in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "They rode in their own container with no other mail so it wasn't a problem," he wrote.
You can either bury the hatchet, or mail it. In a 2019 Quora thread, William Henry Ikaika Murray, who has worked as a letter carrier for the Postal Service since 2016, said he had to deliver an axe once. According to Murray, it wasn't just any axe tucked away in a secure box either—it was "an axe wrapped in duct tape and grocery bags."
He said he carried it in his satchel for delivery, but still wonders to this day how it was allowed to shipped—especially considering how it was packaged. "I mean I get at least a paper cut every day as it is, I really don't need to be adding handling poorly wrapped edged tools and weapons to my routine," Murray joked.
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A tree stump
One of the weirdest things sent through the U.S. postal system was meant to be just that. In 2014, Ripley's Believe It or Not! held its second Strange Mail Contest, where people around the country competed to test the limits of the USPS, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Competitors were tasked with trying to mail the most unusual item without packaging to the Ripley Entertainment's corporate headquarters in Orlando. And the winner? A tree trunk.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the winning entry was mailed by Pat Moser from King, North Carolina. The stump had been cut from a tree that was at least 75 years old, but had been uprooted by a wind storm. It cost $30.45, and was the heaviest entry in the competition.
"The tree trunk is not only an unbelievable entry because of its size and weight, but also because of its uniqueness," Edward Meyer, Ripley's vice present of exhibits and archives and contest judge, told the newspaper. "It's a true Believe It or Not! worthy of becoming a Ripley's museum exhibit."