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Mail Anxiety and the Importance of Mail Security

Mail security is a luxury that we don’t often think of as a luxury until we cease to have it. Services like Amazon revolutionized the way we track our packages from the beginning of their shipping journey to our homes. We get notified when our packages have been shipped and delivered, and our willingness to wait for our mail has decreased significantly.

If you lived in the suburbs, you may have never experienced mail anxiety or the fear of getting your mail stolen. You may not be familiar with the urge to check the tracking status on your phone to figure out exactly when your package is going to arrive. This is because it’s less likely that your mail gets stolen when living in a single-family home—at least based on my experience living in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. I’m not saying it never happens, but there are fewer neighbors and strangers around in a small suburban neighborhood than there are in an apartment building in the city.

A while back, I interviewed my friend Sarah about her experience with apartment living after moving out of her college dorm. She told me that when she moved into her first apartment she became aware of how much she took for granted mail security on campus. Her new apartment, while offering more space and freedom, came with its own set of problems.

“My mail got stolen all of the time, which was incredibly annoying,” Sarah told me. “I’ve lost hundreds of dollars worth of stuff because there isn’t a designated door person.” Even in her current apartment and even though Sarah has been working from home since the start of the pandemic, she’s still had packages stolen if she takes too long to pick them up from her building lobby.

It’s easy for nosy neighbors, visitors, or strangers passing by to snatch up a package and hope there is something of value inside. Mail security is one of the many perks of living in a multi-family building with front desk security and access control. Having someone there to receive your mail at any hour of the day means you don’t have to worry about it 24/7. It also means you don’t have to worry about sending your mail to an alternate address with better mail security, like your office or place of work.

I can’t speak for every mail security system, but here is how mine works:

  1. The front desk security guard signs for my package and puts it in the system.
  2. My package is sorted into my apartment number slot in the mailroom.
  3. I get a notification from my building that I have a package waiting.
  4. I pick up my mail.
  5. Pre-COVID, I would sign for my package upon pickup. Now, it is not required.
  6. I get a notification that my packages have been picked up.

Luckily, I’ve had limited experience with mail theft. My living situation has always allowed for secure mail delivery, but recently I’ve been thinking about how important mail security truly is. This pandemic has made us rely heavily on all kinds of delivery services. Restaurants are out of the question, so we order takeout. Grocery stores can be crowded, so we choose for our groceries to be delivered. Shopping malls and stores are closed or with limited capacity, so we shop online. Unfortunately, shopping and ordering things online seems to be about the only socially acceptable thing to do right now to pass the time.

What have been your experiences with mail theft? Is mail security something you look for when moving to a new place?

Ivana Gatica graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in Fine Arts and Writing. For the past year, she has been working as a copywriter in the marketing and fintech spaces helping businesses find their unique voice. She also likes to take on freelance writing opportunities in her free time and loves to write fiction and poetry.