Friday, June 10, 2005

The Mail Enigma & The Common Man

Why why why am I so unlucky with postage? I've been lucky in life, lucky in love but unlucky when it comes to mailing a simple package.

Case in point #1)

I hate brown - Waaay before Christmas last year I decided to get a jump start on my holiday shipping (okay, December 18th, but by my standards that's waaay before Christmas). I mailed all of my packages using the in-house mailing service from my local Staples which happens to be UPS. Fair enough, I have used them before and I always go name brand so why not? It sure avoids standing in that line at the hoary old Post Office. There is no one at Staples. Ever.

I like to save a penny or two whenever I can so when asked by the merry Staples holiday shipping elf how I want to ship my stuff I say "ground" to which she eye, head and shoulder nods that "ground" ain't going to cut it if I want it to get there by dear old Christmas Eve. I then choose the only "guaranteed" plan they have, the 3 Day Select. Guaranteed to put smiles on the cherub cheeks of my neices I am assured. My very close relative ships a package to Kentucky at the same time using "ground." I laugh. We go eat Thai, visions of being the coolest son in the world dance in my head.

Christmas 2004 was a cold grey ulcerous soul sucking pit of figgy pudding. Packages I had shipped through brown on December 18, arrived at their destination, Arkansas USA, on December 28, seven days after my three day guarantee promised by the elf in brown, who I now envisioned with actual Staples across her merry forehead. Thankfully I am only typographically violent. After apologies were made to my family, I promptly decided to make sure the premium price I paid to have my packages shipped with all the care of a box of turds hadn't gone towards some fat brown executive's new mid life crisis and all of it's 8 cylinders. Working in the guest service industry has taught me many things, one of which is to get what you pay for....or only pay for what you get. I basically paid for "Bea Arthur" even though I got "Elaine Stritch." I don't even need to tell you that the package my close relative sent to Kentucky got there with a day to spare. Happy Christmas y'all.

Asking for something imaginary like a discount on past postage is as difficult as asking for a refund on The Pacifier 2 months after you saw it. Staples of course puts up its force field and deflects me to UPS. It ain't their fault they guaranteed it. UPS tells me that it states on their website that any package shipped after December 12 is not guaranteed. Ooookay, so what happens when you are so big you whore out your services to places like Staples and they don't read you the disclaimers?! Also, it turns out that my package sat in a warehouse for three complete days (don't you love those tracking numbers)! UPS claims it was because of bad weather in Arkansas. Funny thing, the warehouse it sat in was in Sanford, Fla...where it was bright and sunny I can tell you first hand. Besides, geographically Arkansas and Kentucky suffer from just about the same weather that time of year but somehow "ground" was able to make it to Kentucky ahead of schedule whereas my 3 Day Select somehow took the scenic route and wound up crash landing six days later. Two of those days were attributed by UPS to failed "attempted deliveries" a location that saw no brown representative come by at all. Either way no one was responsible for poor representation, false guarantees or shoddy service. I was the dumb person who shipped stuff so close to Christmas, I must be the only person alive who did so. If someone decides to send something the night before Christmas Eve and pays extra to do so, shouldn't a company whose entire career is based around shipping, get it there on time? Much less when it's shipped a full week before Christmas? Oh that's right they need a holiday break too. I'd just as much rather shove my box up Santa's ass next time, then I'd be guaranteed an on time delivery.

As you can see, I can be oh so eloquent on paper. So I decided to write the store manager at Staples who said his hands were tied "but felt really sorry." Okay. I then touched up the letter adding yet one more pass the buck scenario and CC'd his regional manager and the President of said company named after metal binding material. That way the local store manager could feel actually "really sorry".... actually..... really. I of course got a full refund within a week. Not what I had asked for. I'm not a pig. I just wanted to be charged the difference between 3 Day Select and "Ground." So basically I buy my CDR's and Sharpies elsewhere and certainly have pangs of mistrust for brown at this point. Maybe waiting in line at the oldest parcel shipping establishment wouldn't have been such a bad thing after all.

Case in point #2)
The Hoary Old Republican Post Office - Today is my mom's birthday (Hi mom!) and I, being the greatest son in the world (it's a fact!), have found her the perfect gift. Long ago this past March my mom came down to Humid Misquitopatch, USA to celebrate my refund from Staples. I was able to take her to Brio on the winnings. Of course we had to split an entree, but still... Whilst here in Orlando, she saw a watch that she really liked at one of the Disney Resorts but it was the last one and not wanting to cause waves as she typically does, just did without. Taking this cue, my super son senses went into action and remembered the watch and I quickly returned to snag it. Truly, it was a discontinued model and my purchasing it placed it in the text books only to be remembered by others and looked at with amazement for generations to come. I was pretty damn proud of myself at the coup I had just made. To add icing to the cake, my mom had just reported a rash of heinous Mickey Mouse antenna topper abductions from her Honda Odyssey. Tragic! To really make this birthday pop, I would send her not one, but two 50th Anniversary gold Mickey antenna toppers. Wow! That's tacky! But what I wouldn't give so that she might have peace of mind when one of her new antenna toppers will surely get stolen by the Disney deprived antenna topper junkies of Northwest Arkansas, there is already another one ready to take its place.

Sitting on such a neat surprise was nothing short of keeping secrets from when I had Liza Minnelli on tour, but I managed to do so and have managed to do so. I get to the Post Office thinking this time I'll play it safe and use an institution as American as apple pie, the liberty bell and Little Debbie. Carefully placing all of my items in the box I chose, I kindly ask the attendant to mail it Priority. Apparently, mailing something Priority garners you a free box! Ding! Hells yes I say and take the free box and forego the $1.49 box I had chosen.

So okay, the stuff doesn't fit in the free box so I'm back to the $1.49. I transfer all of my mom's precious cargo (remember antenna toppers and endangered watch!) to the other box, tape it up, slap postage on it and away it goes.

Flash forward to today, June 10th, 2005. My mom opens her package with me on the other line so I can hear the excitement live as per tradition among our family's birthdays and holidays (don't ever ask me about Christmas 2004). Describing each and every detail just as I remembered it she carefully opens the perfectly prosed card, reading each thoughtfully underlined word. She then looks in and pulls out two small boxes each containing....!!!!....a gold Mickey antenna topper!!! Imagine that! She of course giggles with delight. I am so good. Next she proceeds to ask me about the days activities and I oblige and tell her that I was just about to step out the door for work, etc, etc. More small talk and the occassional sniffle from her re-reading the nifty card that I had sent her when finally I ask about the small metal tin at the bottom of the box. Metal tin? What metal tin?

Apparently in the excitement of being frugal, I had left the near extinct watch on the counter of the Post Office. It had not made it into the birthday box. Frantically, I imagine that I am Jennifer Wilbanks and pretend to be kidnapped by a short hispanic man and a white woman and quickly hang up the phone. I can't let her know my stupidity. Of course now all she thinks I sent her for her birthday is two Mickey Mouse antenna toppers. And even if they are gold in design, they ain't real gold. I call the Post Office and ask if anyone has seen a small tin with a really ugly watch inside (there is a reason they discontinued it). No one has. I call again about twenty minutes later and get a different person. Good. At least they won't think I'm totally crazy. Still no watch. I run out to Disney and go back to the same shop that I bought the watch in the first place and of course it has ceased to exist. They show me the book of watches-no-more and its place amongt the cretaceous time pieces that once roamed the happiest wrists on earth. I plead with some scared Cast Member to look in the computer by SKU to see if a warehouse has one listed anywhere. As luck would have it, there happened to be two of these things left and only by the grace of God. Both were located near my work so karma backs the truck up and I hop in. I grab the last of the watches that will forever be known as the "Way-too-much-fucking-trouble-but-keeps-great-time" watch and carelessly throw it in the back seat of my car as I'm late for work. As I'm typing this tonight, I just remember that I am not sure that it actually is in my back seat. Sigh...I'll never learn.

Needless to say I am the Charlie Brown of mailing stuff.

1 comment:

GreenLitLindy said...

Now that...THAT my friend is a fucking brilliant posting.

We need to quit Disney and just write about our adventures.


You should take a picture of the watch for us!

I loved this POSTING!

Love from PA and NYC,