Two weeks ago, Patrick Russell walked to his usual mailbox on Southridge Drive to drop off some letters and was surprised to find only a concrete slab in its place.
"I went down with my mail and it was gone," said Russell, who lives on the corner of Southridge Drive and Rupert Street in McLean.
Undeterred, Russell walked home, got in his car and drove to a spot on Chesterbrook Road where he knew there was another mailbox. However, Russell was once again greeted by a concrete slab.
"So then I drove over to BB&T Bank, but that mailbox was gone too," said Russell. "Then I went to the CVS store and by gosh, that one was gone. I use all of those mailboxes from time to time, and they were all gone."
Giving up, Russell went to the McLean Post Office to drop off his letters and to ask the staff why the boxes had been removed. He was informed that the mailboxes had been taken away because they were not being used enough.
After some recent density checks, Wayne Davenport, Postmaster at the McLean Post Office, made the decision to remove 23 mailboxes in the area.
"I'd been having my letter collector count how many pieces were in each box, and if it was 25 or less a day, I had them removed," said Davenport . "I was spending a lot of money going to boxes that didn't have very much in them."
Davenport posted removal notices on the underused mailboxes two weeks prior to taking them away, but said he did not get any feedback until just recently.
"I think they were only dropping things in there once a month for bill payments, so now they're calling me because it's bill time again," said Davenport.
However, Davenport said that he has not had too many complaints, and that most of the boxes that were removed are just a block or two away from the McLean Post Office.
"There were just too many that were in close proximity to each other," said Davenport. "They're still scattered around, but they're just not so close to each other."
According to Davenport, there are 13 mailboxes in the 22101 area of McLean, and 43 mailboxes in the 22102 area. However, he is currently doing density checks in the 22102 zone, and also plans to remove any underused mailboxes there.
Patrick Russell said he understands the reasoning behind the removals, but would still like his old Southridge Drive drop spot back.
"I've been walking to that same mailbox for the last 45 years," said Russell. "They said it's because of low business, and it's true – I'm probably not writing enough. I just need to start writing more letters."