The check is in the mail


In 1964, the comedy, “Gilligan’s Island,” came to television. Older viewers and watchers of old reruns will remember that “The Minnow,” was a tour ship that took a mixed group of passengers on a “three-hour tour.” A storm arose and the crew and passengers were marooned on an uncharted island.

For the next three seasons, the antics of the group, as they attempted to survive and get off the island, would be told. The show was cancelled after the third season, leaving Gilligan, the Skipper, and all the rest on the island. In 1978, a television movie was released, finally telling the story of the castaways’ rescue.

From 1964 to 1978 is a long time to be out of circulation. The reasonable assumption would be, for those back home, that the crew was lost and presumed dead. Which is exactly what happened in the 2000 Tom Hanks film, “Castaway.” In that drama, Hank’s character survives a plane crash and is washed up on a deserted island. Finally, after four years, he builds a raft and is rescued and returns home only to discover that he has been declared dead and his wife has married another man. Ouch.

All of which brings me to a lost in the mail paycheck from March 2022. I decided to mail my check and deposit slip to my local bank. After several days, I noted that the funds had not been placed in my account. I contacted the bank and learned they hadn’t received it. A few weeks passed and there was no change. Finally, our business administrator noted the check as “void’ and issued a replacement check. I thought no more about it. Until last month.

As I was checking my on-line banking, I noticed that there was too much money in my checking account. While that is better than having too little, it was still a problem. The amount newly deposited in my account was in the amount of the check that had gone missing. After doing some investigating and working with the bank, it became obvious that the check, which had been mailed in March, was finally delivered to the bank in December. It took nine months for the check to move a grand total of four miles.

Once the situation was understood, we went through the procedure of having the money moved from my account back into the church’s account. No harm, no foul. However, I did have to wonder about the check itself.

Did it stay in the mail truck all that time? Did it fall to the floor and get stuck under a cabinet where, nine months later, it was found and put back into the regular mail? Did the check decide to go on a tour of the country and roam around the nation for nine months?

The longest postal delay in history was 89 years, according to Guinness World Records. In 2008, Janet Barrett, a guest house owner in Weymouth, Dorset, in the United Kingdom, received a letter which was an RSVP to a Boxing Day party invitation which had been posted on November 29, 1919. Guinness reported, “The message inside read: “Dear Percy, Many thanks for the invitation, be delighted. See you on the 26th December. Regards Buffy,” and was delivered in a plastic bag with a note from the Royal Mail (the UK postal service) apologizing for any damage – but offering no explanation for the inordinately long delay.”

With that being the standard, my wayward paycheck, Hank’s stranded character, and Gillian and company’s long occupation, doesn’t seem all that much of an ordeal. The words “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” have long been associated with the American postal service. I have every confidence that whatever I drop into the mailbox will be delivered. Eventually.  

According to Postal Facts, the United States Postal Service handles 46% of the world’s mail which, in 2022, was more than 127,000,000,000 (that’s in billions) pieces of mail. So, just be patient. These folks work hard. The mail will be delivered to its proper destination. Eventually.

Also, business owners, be patient as well. When the customer says, “The check is in the mail,” it just might be. Just pray it doesn’t take 89 years for your descendants to receive it!

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King ( Worship services are on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and on livestream at He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South ( He may be contacted at]


  1. Reminds me of an editorial cartoon I saw long ago. Maybe back in the 1970s.
    Two old-time postal clerks sitting behind old-time barred window counters. Wearing eyeshades and their shirt sleeves bloused up.
    There are cobwebs hanging from the clerks arms.
    The Post Office logo stylized eagle is parodied as a turtle.
    Holding up a post card, the one clerk says to the other, “Look! This is nice! A postcard from President Roosevelt!”

    Doesn’t further clarify if it’s Teddy or FDR.