Sat, Dec 14, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Mailman’s persistence reunites friends across 40 years

By Liao Shu-ling and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mailman Weng Cheng-hsien sits astride his motorbike in Yunlin County on Nov. 21.

Photo: Liao Shu-ling, Taipei Times

A mailman in Yunlin County recently earned praise for his persistence and dedication to the job, by successfully forwarding an air express letter from Japan to its destination, even though the intended recipient had changed her name and moved more than 20 years ago.

Mail packages stamped with “address unknown” and “no such person” are usually the bane of postal workers, as well as a source of frustration for the letter writers who receive their mail back stamped: “Return to sender.”

However, for Weng Cheng-hsien (翁鎮賢), such letters are seen as a challenge to his skills in completing the delivery.

In October, a letter from Japan was to test his skills.

The letter was addressed to a Ms Chang Mei-yueh (張美月), at No. 33 Singnan Borough (興南), Huwei Town.

However, at the address, Weng found only a chicken farm. He asked the neighbors, but no one knew anyone by the name of Chang Mei-yueh.

After completing his round of deliveries for the day, Weng headed back to the area after work in search of clues.

He eventually found a man in his 90s who vaguely recalled someone by that name from a long time ago and was able to direct Weng to where the woman’s father still lived.

Weng visited the father, who confirmed that Chang Mei-yueh was his daughter.

Using the father’s home telephone, Weng called Chang and learned she had changed her name and moved to Sanchong (三重) in New Taipei City (新北市) more than 20 years ago.

However, Chang said she would refuse the letter on the grounds that she did not know anyone in Japan.

Returning to the post office, Weng had a sinking feeling. He looked again at the letter and could not dismiss the feeling that it must be important, since the sender had spent NT$400 (US$13.50) on express postage.

Weng said he was determined to finish the job and would not stamp the letter “Return to sender.”

Three days later, Weng visited the father again and telephoned Chang for her address, so he could have the letter delivered. Eventually, Chang relented and agreed to accept the letter.

It later turned out that the mail came from a Taiwanese woman, surnamed Tseng (曾), who had married a Japanese and because a naturalized Japanese citizen.

She had been a friend of Chang’s when they lived in Huwei as youngsters.

The two friends had had no contact for more than 40 years, and the letter gave them an opportunity to reconnect.

After forwarding the letter, Weng did not think much about his contribution, saying simply: “I was just doing my job.”

He learned that the letter linked the two friends separated only when the Huwei Post Office later received a thank-you letter from Japan.

In the letter, Tseng wrote that after finding her old friend, she now plans to make a trip to Huwei to visit friends and relatives during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

Tseng added that she will also pay a visit to the post office to thank Weng in person.

Locals were reminded of the 2008 Taiwanese box-office romantic hit Cape No. 7 (海角七號) — in which the characters solve the mystery of letters sent from Japan to an old Japanese-colonial address in Taiwan, shortly after World War II.

“Now we have a real Cape No. 7 story in Huwei Town,” they said.

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