It's not often that any of my snail mail is something other than a bill, so when I received an empty envelope, I was stumped.

I know that most people at this point in our state of evolution have moved to online EVERYTHING, but there seems to be an exception: invitations.

I don't know if it's the formality of it (and by "formality", I mean in the sense of being "formal") or if it's the "let's take it out of the envelope and stick it to the refrigerator" thing, but they are still around.

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I RECEIVED AN EMPTY ENVELOPE IN THE MAIL

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Just from looking at the front of the envelope, 2 things are obvious:

  1. This envelope is something personal, as evidenced by the hand-written address
  2. The envelope was sent on May 5th.

I guess that the day it was sent doesn't matter much, but at least we know it was recent.

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As you can see from the picture of the back of the envelope, the rear flap that seals the envelope is gone.

Had there been a rear flap, there may have been a return address. Had there been a return address (sometimes it is included on invitations, sometimes not), we wouldn't have much of a problem, as I could just contact that person and inform them of the situation.

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Oh, look: there's nothing in it.

WHY DID I RECEIVE AN EMPTY ENVELOPE

When I asked the Google why I received an empty envelope, one of the suggestions it produced led me to the United States Postal Inspection Service.

The main answer was

If there is probable cause to believe the contents of a First-Class letter or parcel violate federal law, Postal Inspectors can obtain a search warrant to open the mail piece. - USPIS

The piece of mail I received had no notification that the contents violated federal law, and no federal agents have appeared at my stoop (yet).

WHY WOULD THE POST OFFICE DELIVER AN EMPTY ENVELOPE?

Today I learned that if an envelope was damaged during transit AND postal employees notice it, they will mark it in some fashion: a sticker, a stamp, or they will put it in a plastic bag with an "Oops, sorry" note.

I also learned that IF an envelope gets damaged but goes unnoticed until is it out for delivery and IF the address is still legible, it will be delivered (mission accomplished, I guess).

More from a user of Quora:

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SO, WHAT GIVES?

Was the envelope not sealed properly, allowing the flap to open and get torn off in the sorting machines? Did the contents fall out during transit?

Did my neighbor get the contents of MY envelope stuck to the back of HIS Popular Mechanics magazine? Is he staring at the invitation with a confused look on his face?

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WHAT SHOULD I DO?

My first thought was to contact my local post office, but then I searched for answers. Most of the answers say the same thing: don't bother contacting the post office.

Why not? Well, it seems that there doesn't appear to be any type of fraud that was committed.

My only injuries/losses are:

  1. I didn't receive an invitation of some sort, and
  2. I spent 30 minutes writing this post, time that I'll never recover.

That's it. No harm to me, I guess.

SO WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE?

The bottom line is this: if your kid is about to graduate or your other kid is about to get married and you tried to let me know about it, I still don't.

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