Who's counting my mail and why?

In the past two weeks, on three different days, I’ve noticed that one envelope in the stack delivered has a number handwritten on the back. It’s the same number (55, in case it’s relevant) each time, written on the ‘top’ of the envelope as it’s held vertically.

This is the first time I’ve noticed it, and it’s clearly not just a one-off thing, as it’s happened repeatedly. Is it a holiday-rush method of counting/sorting things at the post office? My first thought was maybe our house is number 55 on the postman’s route, but the marked envelope has been in the middle of the stack each time, so I doubt that would be really useful. I’m stumped and curious, and a bit paranoid as every marked envelope has been a bank or credit card statement/offer addressed to me*.

*Granted, that’s pretty much the only snail-mail I ever get, but there are two other people living here. I’m not really thinking there’s a conspiracy.

More likely it’s just that your house is the start of bundle 55 to be delivered. Marking an envelope makes it easier to find a particular bundle in the right order when pulling it out of the truck.

When I was a temporary mail carrier during college, we always marked the first piece of mail in a bundle for a particular relay. That is, after bundling the letter mail for a given loop that involved multiple bundles (common during Christmas-time, when there’s a lot of mail), we’d carry the bundles not currently in-hand in the mailbag. Numbering them let us know which one was next without doing the “ok, I’m at 295 Pine, but there may be no mail for this address, so which bundle has the closest address” thing.
Now, in my current position with a law enforcement agency, we sometimes do “mail covers,” in which we watch a target individual’s mail (only in terms of who they’re receiving mail from and/or sending it to - mail is heavily protected by the law, so we can’t read it without a warrant). But, obviously, we wouldn’t mark the mail in any way, as that would tip our hand.
Bottom line: no one’s counting your mail. Your carrier just periodically makes marking so he doesn’t have to solve puzzles while he’s humping a 50-pound mail satchel up steep hills and such.

Much of the bulk (‘junk’) mail is presorted on zip code, 9-digit zip, and carrier route. Often that is all printed on the address label. If you look thru your mail looking for these codes, it’s quite possible that you will see that your carrier route is 55. Especially if your house is the first one on a block.

The Carrier route number is 4 digits, though. Your DPV code is two digits, however, and that might be it. DPV stands for Delivery Point Verification, and is a checksum number that confirms that you have a valid mail box at the address. Not sure why it’d be written on your mail though.

It’s the work of the anti-tinfoil hat brigade. :rolleyes: