Mail still being received for the WTC towers, five years later.

Most of it is bulk mail, generated by mass-mailers who seem to have not gotten around to updating their files. But it is still a bit of a creep-out for the local post office, where the towers once had their own zip-code, to be still receiving mail for a place that dissolved into dust and rubble right before their eyes more than five years ago. In an odd way, in some obscure corner of certain corporate databases, the towers are still real, and three thousand people are still at their desks, sorting through the mail as they have a second cup of coffee. All flesh is grass, but the habits of bureaucracy are eternal…

I noticed the same kind of lag, for quite a few months after 9/11, in the pages of a particular glossy magazine: Gourmet. Away in the back pages were listings and short descriptions of restaurants; as a New York based publication, naturally the bulk of them were for places in New York. And the listing for Windows on the World was still included among them, for months and months after that ghastly day. It was probably due to the same kind of organizational stasis, but I liked to think maybe it was a way of keeping one last little piece of it alive, if only on paper. And deleting the listing, and closing up the page around it would have been rather like deleting the e-mail address of a deceased friend from your contacts page… almost a little too much finality.

And letters and postcards are sometimes delivered, decades after they were mailed, as if they had been held in a kind of postal suspended animation. Which fancy is not too far off the mark; when old post office buildings are demolished, or renovated, it is apparently is quite common for old letters to be found behind walls, slipped through cracks in the floorboards, behind cabinets and machinery… and of course, the post office does their best to deliver them. The mail must go through. Maybe late, but it must go through.

Sgt. Mom is a freelance writer and retired Air Force NCO who lives in San Antonio and blogs at

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