An open letter to the Scottish Parliament

Dear Scottish Parliament,

I am a U.S. citizen with a concern that I must bring to your attention. It is a matter of some urgency to me; I hope it will become so to you.

I and my wife have three sons, one of which is a second year student at the University of Edinburgh. His name is Bryce. Bryce has been living in Scotland on a student visa since the start of his first year, and he plans to live there through the duration of his university studies. He loves Scotland and Edinburgh, and so do we.

But as a U.S. citizen, Bryce is far from home. And even in the age of Facebook and Skype, there is nothing like a package from home. We have tried hard to make it a habit of sending packages to Bryce that contain a little bit of home. We call them “care packages”—small boxes of items that could only have come from his mum and dad, packages that let him know he is loved and missed. We’ve sent several care packages to Bryce in the year and a half since he’s been gone.

Unfortunately, several of them never got to him, and at least one of them arrived purely by accident. The problem is in the way packages are delivered to a flat. Someone (from the Royal Mail, I presume) puts a little slip of paper on the door at the entrance to the building. The recipient of the package must find this slip of paper (if it has not fallen off or blown away), and then go to the post office to pick up the package.

On at least two occasions, something happened that prevented our son from ever seeing that slip of paper. Perhaps it blew away. Perhaps someone else picked it up. We don’t know. We only know that our son never got the slip of paper, even though the Royal Mail diligently delivers letters directly to his flat every day.

On a third occasion, Bryce did get the package we sent to him, but purely by accident. As he entered the building to his flat, he noticed a little slip of paper on the ground. He picked it up. It said that a package was waiting at the post office, addressed to his flat, but for someone else whose name he did not recognize. Bryce was suspicious that it might be mislabeled, because he was expecting a package from us. On a hunch, he went to the post office to find out, and sure enough, there was a package for him. In this case, it was dumb luck that led him to his package.

So here we are, just halfway through Bryce’s second year at Edinburgh, and we no longer have any confidence that the packages we send to Bryce will get to him. They might. But the odds are against it. We don’t know if we should send any more packages to him at all. Scotland can’t seem to get the delivery right.

How can it be this bad in a country so capable as Scotland? How can the land of Sir Walter Scott, David Hume, Robert Burns, Adam Smith, John Knox, Robert Louis Stevenson, etcetera, etcetera have such a bad system of package delivery to flats? Is there no one in Scotland with the vision to fix this obviously ridiculous problem? I cannot believe it.

Please, I beg you, treat packages like letters from the Queen. Deliver the little slip of paper to the flat, just like a letter. Make it better than a little slip of paper—put it on card stock, like a big postcard, with a proud announcement by the Royal Mail that a package awaits the recipient. It would be so easy.

Most honorable, dear Sirs and Madams, the handling of packages by the Scottish postal service is in a state of crisis. Will you delight the world once again with a solution to this most important problem?

I anxiously await your reply.

Most humbly and respectfully,

Daryl J. Lucas
Wheaton, Illinois