*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I witnessed firsthand; used with permission.
I knew a teen who stuffed pizza flyers into residential mailboxes because his boss told him to. He was getting paid minimum wage plus tips, so stuffing mailboxes with the pizza flyers actually cost him money in gas and missed tips. Unfortunately, he got caught. At least he didn't end up having to pay a fine. Despite this mishap, he continued working at the pizza place for several more years, and he even managed to snag a few free pizzas from his boss on occasion.
I worked for an ice cream stand that had an adjacent pizzeria that served takeout and delivery only. While the same man owned the building that housed both the ice cream stand and the pizzeria, the pizzeria business itself was under different ownership. Despite that, we shared many of the same resources, such as bathrooms, coolers, and a single open workspace.
Sharing the same workspace also meant I was privy to the inner workings of the pizzeria. If something went wrong, I was right there to hear all about it from my non-coworkers.
One day, the pizzeria manager sent a teen employee out to stuff mailboxes with pizza flyers that contained a menu and several coupons. The teen drove around the area all day long, stuffing flyers into hundreds if not thousands of mailboxes.
There was only one problem. The only thing that's supposed to be stuffed into a mailbox is mail. Mailboxes are the sole domain of the United States Postal Service, and using them for any other purpose is strictly verboten.
"No part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items or matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Any mailable matter not bearing postage and found as described above is subject to the same postage as would be paid if it were carried by mail." [Source]
Within an hour of the employee's triumphant announcement that he had distributed all the pizza flyers, a man arrived at the pizzeria with a bag filled with flyers and a message. "The postmaster will be calling on you soon."
The teen was visibly shaken. He didn't know how much trouble he was looking at, and he didn't want to find out.
I convinced him that if anyone deserved the blame, it was his boss. After all, it wasn't like he had handed out pizza flyers on his own. He was following orders. Let the business owner handle the heat, I suggested.
Fortunately, the postmaster was a kind and understanding gentleman, but he stressed the fact that the pizzeria was not to use anyone's mailbox as their own personal advertising conduit, no matter how tempting all those potential customers may be.
We all learned a valuable lesson that day. Leave the mailboxes to the mail delivery folk.
If you've ever thought about using mailboxes for any other purpose, here's my advice: Don't.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Comments are welcome.