If you have lived in Akron for any length of time, you probably know the name Dominic Guzzetta.
The former University of Akron president, who died four years ago, was among the bigger movers and shakers around.
He led the institution from 1971 through 1984 after having held a number of dean and vice president positions. One of his more obvious legacies is Guzzetta Hall, home to the music program.
But apparently, the folks who raise money for the UA Athletic Department have never heard of the guy.
That became evident to Akron attorney Gary Rosen, executor of Guzzetta’s estate, when he received two packets of information last month, one addressed to him and the other on behalf of the former president.
The mailing had to do with a new point system of rewards for UA donors and season ticket-holders.
Dr. Guzzetta was informed that the $253,600 he has donated to the university over the years, coupled with the $5,700 he has given specifically for athletics, have earned him 2,821 priority points. Those points enable him to get better seats or a better parking pass for future basketball and football games.
When Rosen picked himself up off the floor, he dictated a return letter that said, in part:
“I would think that your office would know that Dr. Guzzetta was a past president of the University of Akron. Additionally, I would think that your office would have known that Dr. Guzzetta died now a number of years ago.
“I greatly appreciate your recent notification that Dr. Guzzetta has earned 2,821 priority points under the new Z-Fund point system [but] I am confident that he can no longer use these points.”
Rosen, who buys season tickets to men’s basketball, sent his letter May 15. He has yet to receive a reply.
Gotta love that personal touch.
And now, yet another amusing tale of incompetence, this time from the post office, which, in my personal experience, generally does a stellar job.
These people are willing to take an envelope from Akron to Seattle in just a few days — for 49 cents? Whaddya, nuts? And 99 percent of the time, it actually gets there.
Even well-performing operations can have holes, though. Ask Becky Woodruff.
All the Akron woman wanted was to be a good citizen.
Month after month, she has been receiving important-looking envelopes addressed to somebody with a completely different name, a completely different street and a completely different ZIP code.
The only thing that matches: the house number.
Same guy every time, with the same incorrect address.
Clearly, the envelope is not junk mail. It carries the return address of an unspecified Summit County office, along with a warning to the effect that people not authorized to open the letter will be tarred and feathered if they do.
Woodruff has repeatedly written things like “wrong address” on the envelopes and left them in her mailbox on Canton Road in Ellet. They keep coming back.
Being the good person she is, she got in her car and took an envelope to the Ellet station. That didn’t work, either.
Finally, she drove an envelope to the main post office on Wolf Ledges, believing those folks would be able to set things straight. Nope. “I think it beat me back to my house!”
With nowhere else to turn, Woodruff contacted her favorite columnist, the solver of all mysteries, the salve for all wounds, the people’s chosen liaison to the ponderous powers that be.
The regional U.S. Postal Service media honcho in Cleveland speculated that Woodruff’s problem was a faulty bar code, which was being read over and over by the automated sorting machines. But he wouldn’t know for sure unless a postal employee examined the envelope.
So I put Woodruff’s latest envelope in another envelope and mailed it to the customer relations coordinator in Akron. Fifteen minutes later, it came right back to me.
Turns out the problem originated with an employee at Summit County Job & Family Services who typed an incorrect address into The System.
“As it happens,” wrote postal service spokesman David Van Allen, “there is no such address in 44305, so the computer sorting system has been identifying the closest [house number and first letter of the street name] in Akron and routing the mail there.”
When asked how often this sort of thing takes place, he replied, “It’s very rare.”
Van Allen said the postal service has contacted Job & Family Services and asked for an address correction. Until that happens, he vowed, “the office will be manually intercepting the pieces in order to return the mail to the sender.”
Well, not exactly.
On Saturday — 11 days after Van Allen told me that — yet another envelope showed up in Woodruff’s mailbox.
When informed of this turn of events — or, more accurately, this lack of a turn of events — the postal service spokesman said he had “informed the Akron postmaster.”
Perhaps this will require an act of Congress.