ST. CHARLES, Mo. – A St. Charles taxpayer never expected an arduous journey for a package of clothes and other items she was sending her son in Chicago for his birthday.

Pam Oliver says she mailed the package through the United States Postal Service on Jan. 10. She didn’t see it again until Feb. 6, almost a month later.

Oliver kept track of the package with the tracking number and was stunned by what she saw. The package went from St. Louis to Chicago, then back to St. Louis, from St. Louis to Memphis, and then Memphis to Knoxville.

From there, the package is taken to more than a dozen other cities, including Washington, D.C.; Norfolk, Virginia; and Hyattsville, Maryland, before finally making its way back to St. Louis.

Oliver says she and her son tried to take it in stride.

“Oh, every day I would text him and say, ‘Guess where your package is today?’ But then I got to thinking: what a waste of money; what a waste of resources.”

Oliver says the package went to nearly 20 cities in all, but it was actually seen at many more postal locations.

“In the tracking, if you could all the track where they actually scanned the package, there were 44,” she said. “Forty-four people or machines had to touch that package. What a waste of our government money. Not to mention the cost to travel around in airplanes or vehicles or whatever.”

Oliver paid about $17 in postage when she first sent the package; she was fearful about what the final tab would be.

“I’m watching this package go across the United States several times, and I’m thinking, ‘Boy, I’m going to have a $1,000 postage bill. Then afterwards, they sent me a letter saying, ‘You’re not going to have to pay for the postage.’”

In the end, the package finally came back to her after 28 days. This time, Oliver shipped the package to her son using another service.

Would she use the U.S. Postal Service again?

“No. Actually, they sent me a survey that said, ‘How good did we do?’” she said. “Of course, you know how I responded. Not very favorably.”