Saturday, March 13, 2010

Flight of the bumble-B

Since we built on a lot that had always been owned together with an adjoining lot, but was never before built on, we have a little address problem. The house to our right is number 306. The house to our left is 308 (that's the house that sits on the lot that was always together with ours). What is left over for us?

In the very early days (the first iteration of our plans), the City referred to us as 308-B. Makes sense, we thought: it was as if we were carved out from the old "double-lot" 308. But then somebody noticed that the street numbering system now went like this (on our side of the street): 304, 306, 308-B, 308, 310, and so on. And that seemed like it was a little out of order, so the City re-assigned us as 306-B. Now everything's in order. (We were lobbying for making us 308-A and changing the old house number 308 to 308-B, but nobody at the City wanted to re-number an existing - if uninhabited - house.)

Well, this decision to make us 306-B was consequential.

First, most utility companies can't deal with it in their computer systems. The gas company has us listed as 306, Apt. B. The electric company sends our bills to 306 (our street) B. When I called Verizon to have FiOS installed, they claimed we didn't exist and therefore couldn't connect us. Now they need to check the 911 numbering system to figure out whether we're really here. Well, apparently you only get onto the 911 numbering system if you have a phone line in the first place ...

Even the City has now managed to confuse itself. The proper "spelling" of our street number apparently is 306-B (three zero six hyphen uppercase-B). When I called the Treasurer to make sure they would mail our real estate tax bills to this address, they couldn't find our property in their computer system. Turns out somebody had entered it into the real estate database as 306 B (no hyphen, but a space). Which is, of course also different from 306B (no hyphen, no space). That also explains why I've had problems paying our City water and sewer bill (same mis-spelling).

Finally, the post office. Despite the fact that both Mike and I completed identical change-of-address forms, my old mail gets forwarded to 306-B, and his to 306B. Of course, about half the time our mail still winds up in the mailbox for 306 (Eric, we feel your pain!) or, more recently, at 306-B of the next street over (thanks to the unnamed lady who brought a whole bag of our mail over!). So far, UPS has found us on the second try, and when I just ordered a bean sprouter online (oh yes, sigh, we're THAT green now), I asked the retailer to write a message to the delivery driver on the packet: "it's the new house that's set back from the street" - I hope that'll make it clearer.

Mike promises he'll make a nice, contemporary, sign from some leftover wood we have, and we already have the font picked out for the "306-B" - but until then ... if you receive our mail, or the FiOS installer shows up at your house, or the electric company cuts the seal on your electric meter box instead of ours - please be patient! Eventually that bumble-B will settle down.

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