So you think your mail service is poor.

Try the Maryland suburbs around the nation's capital, where sending a letter to the next town can take a few weeks."I don't complain any more because it's not worth my time," says small businessman Erik de Widt of nearby Takoma Park, Md. "It's like putting spurs to a dinosaur."

Seven Maryland counties practically in the shadow of U.S. Postal Service headquarters in Washington had the nation's slowest delivery at the start of 1991, according to a private study commissioned by the mail agency.

Nationally, first-class mail scheduled for next-day delivery got to its destination on time nearly 80 percent of the time. In the Maryland suburbs, the on-time rate was 56 percent.

That was hardly news to de Widt.

De Widt, a jewelry wholesaler and designer, said Tuesday he has been worn down by "three or four years" of mail service that's so bad "it sometimes makes me physically ill."