Later, 7:50 pm est: here's a list of post offices in North Dakota considered for closure; see how many you recognize that are located in the Bakken, starting with Epping -- where there is now a huge crude-by-rail terminal. I rest my case. [For newbies, zip codes starting with "588XX" are generally in the Bakken; some with "587XX" are in the Bakken; and, even some with "586XX" are in the Bakken.
Later, 7:45 pm est: I got a nice comment that said the post office had new personnel from Detroit who were unable to read street addresses. That helps me understand the problem. I was concerned that folks would think I was blaming staff personally. That couldn't be farther from reality. I was blaming shortsightedness of the USPS -- the "bureaucracy." Just as the Bakken was taking off there were recommendations to close any number of post offices and/or downsize post offices throughout the Dakotas. In fact, I think there were efforts to delete the Williston zip code per se and consolidate it with Minot's or something to that effect. Let's see: the boom is well into its fifth year, and the USPS is finally getting around to "restoring faith in the service it's trying to provide."
... but as I was saying ... there is a story in the Williston Wire today that the US Post Office in Williston will try to "restore faith in the service it's trying to provide." Whatever that means. "Trying to provide?" How about "mandated to provide?"
Since 1969, I have sent, probably, thousands of letters to my family in Williston, and have never had one not reach its destination. So, I was quite surprised (to say the least) when all three letters that I mailed my family in December, 2012, were returned with that ubiquitous yellow strip glued on the front with the words: "addressee has no box."
All three letters were sent to the same family business address; the same address I have used for the past 20 years (or more). It's a business with a front door like most mom-and-pop businesses and no, it does not have a mail receptacle out front. If mail was delivered to the address all these years, the postal carrier must have walked in the front door and dropped off the mail at the reception desk, immediately inside the door. It's also possible, the post office simply placed the mail in one of two post office boxes that the company rents inside the one post office in Williston. Regardless of how it was done, for 20 years (or more), I have mailed letters to the same address and have never gotten one back. But this year, all three letters, all three sent separately, all three letters were returned to me because the addressee did not have a mail box on site. And never has, for 20 years (or more).
I did put all three returned letters inside a larger yellow manila business envelope, one of those 8 x 11-inch envelopes that Wal-Mart sells for a dollar or two and then mailed them back to a PO Box number that I vaguely recall to be correct. That was a week ago.
It appears, in the future, I will simply type my letters on the computer, attach them to e-mail, and have my sister print them off to give to the intended family member when she has time.
Fortunately I do all my banking on-line. And if I do have to mail something to Williston it will be by UPS, although it is my understanding that to save costs UPS often hands off their packages to USPS for remote locations, which Williston appears to be. At least in the eyes of the USPS.