I had to go into the office today and was gone much longer than I planned. This meant I had to make a beeline to the post office to get my bills sent out before I leave town in the morning. Not to fear, though. I know EXACTLY when the boxes outside my post office are picked up: M-F 5:30 and S 4:30. This is emblazoned somewhere on the side of my brain. I sometimes plan whole days around these times.
Imagine my surprise, then, to pull up to the boxes at 5:03 today, a Monday, and find a post office employee cleaning out the boxes. Seven of us in line jumped out of our cars and RAN to him, frantically waving our mail. I told him that I thought the box was picked up at 5:30. He said something that made no sense (he was finished inside?), but I didn't argue with him because I wanted to make sure my bills got in that bin of his.
Maybe since all three numbers are the same -- 5, 3, and 0 -- 5:03 is just as valid a pickup time as 5:30.
This shouldn't be optional, though. If the posted time on the boxes is 5:30, we the patrons should have until 5:30 to get our little letters in those boxes.
(EDIT: My skeptical mind asked if the guy might be an impostor, but if he is, he's both well-prepared and impudent. He was wearing a post office uniform, driving a post office car, and he had the keys to the post office box. After he finished collecting the mail, he drove to the back of the post office. I sat and watched to make sure.)