Why am I getting an email 3 months after it was apparently sent?

I received an email today (8/12/2018) that appears to have been sent on MAY 5 of this year.

I ran MailWasher as usual and saw this unusual email. Mailwasher wouldn't open it. Fine. I opened Thunderbird, and it did not appear in today's emails.

I opened my Earthlink mail account (that's the address it was sent to) and there was the email - no spam, nothing attached, no problem...except that it was apparently sent on May 5.

What the heck is the deal with THAT and the other dead ends involved in this mess?
RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Find out in your Mail Application or webmail how you see Headers (In Outlook, Message, Properties, for example). and see when it was sent from the most recent sender to you.
ste5anSenior DeveloperCommented:
What mess? Just because of 99 percent e-mail arriving in 5 minutes or so, e-mail does not guarantee immediate delivery. It is basically a store and forward system without - at least I'm not aware of it - time limits.
Andrew LeniartFreelance JournalistCommented:
I suspect it was just a spam email to your email address. Delete and forget is my recommendation.

Regards, Andrew
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Did you look at the headers?
RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
John,
I made time to look at the headers and the email was sent to me Sun, 12 Aug 2018 06:20:33 -0400 (EDT).

It had not occurred to me the sender might have sent me the email after all the time that's gone by since my posting of May 4 was what he was reacting to. What motivated my posting is that the date in his email as shown on the Earthlink web mail page for me  IS

Date: May 5, 2018 3:28 AM

If it was sent 12 Aug, wouldn't that be the date that should show in the email?

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Ste5an:

The mess is obvious: how many people wait 4 months to send a comment to someone else? Also, what good is email at all if it doesn't perform quickly, as it is supposed to? And, delays like this sure don't make communicating for personal or business purposes reliable at all, eh? What's your alternative, other than a phone call?
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Andrew:

Obviously, this email is not a spam mail.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
So your mail system apparently is not any way at fault,

It may be that the sender created the mail in May and forget to send it (leaving it in drafts) and then realizing it had not been sent, chose to send it later.

That is the most logical explanation for the above.

If "one of", you should probably ignore it and move on.

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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
how many people wait 4 months to send a comment to someone else?

Well, I've commented on postings several years after they were made.

Also, what good is email at all if it doesn't perform quickly, as it is supposed to?

Email was not originally designed to be quick, and "quick" is not one of the requirements in the SMTP RFCs.  Email store-and-forward queues are processed once a day on some systems, once a week on some systems such as Fidonet which I understand still exists.  All that is required by the RFC is that MTAs do their best for the message to reach the receiver if it is possible for it to be delivered.  There is no constraint as to how long it takes.  You can demand quick, but it is not required.

delays like this sure don't make communicating for personal or business purposes reliable at all, eh?

That is correct, per the above.  Important communications should never be made by email.  (a) There is no telling where the message will be routed through.  It could conceivably end up routed through systems that forward only once a week.  (b) There is no proof of sending or proof of delivery.  Any communication method that does not have the option of producing irrefutable proof of sending and/or proof of delivery is not suitable for all business purposes.

If it was sent 12 Aug, wouldn't that be the date that should show in the email?

Not if the sending system thought that the date was May 5th.  The real world date and the system date are not necessarily the same thing.

What's your alternative, other than a phone call?

A more reliable alternative?  FAX, SMS, paper mail, any online messaging service such as Skype ... others will surely come to mind after I close this response.  But when it comes down to "I sent the message and you got it", nothing beats the telephone.  For everything else, there's Registered Mail.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thanks and I was happy to help you with this.
RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
Odd question, odd situation, for sure. At least the situation was not an urgent one, but it's still good to know what the possible reasons are for a strange delay.  For the information of all who responded: This situation coincides with a recent decision to change my email service over the gmail from Earthlink. I plan to accomplish this over the course of the next twelve months to make sure the new address is changed by all those with whom I email. I have received many good comments on gmail and seeing an increasing amount of complaints by Earthlink email users, I think such a move is necessary.
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