I could have let it go. Really. It was a minor inconvenience, at best. They were right and I knew it. I have no reason to believe they aren’t good people and I’m sure they were just trying to do their job. I was busily running errands, as we all do, trying to force two extra tasks into too little time. I was mailing envelopes to the IRS, containing you-know-what. They were addressed by my accountant, using sticker labels, so I thought there was no chance they were misaddressed. But I hadn’t put return addresses on each, and there were roughly a dozen of them. “You really should put a return address on these,” said the counter person, as nicely as he could. “Is it required?” I asked. “I don’t know, but you should.” He asked his fellow worker. “He should,” she agreed. The third counterperson was consulted. “I don’t know, but he really should.” They were ganging up on me and giving me an answer that is certainly correct, but for the fact that it didn’t match my question. I gathered up my packages, bought some stamps, and left for home, where I had some return address labels. On the way out, I looked at my receipt, printed with an inspirational quote at the bottom: “Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.” Thus wrote John Adams in 1765. But let us not dare send mail without a return address.
See a letter written to John Adams by his wife Abigail in 1784. The letter is lost, but the envelope survived. Notice. No return address.