Friday, November 18, 2005

United Parcel Service

I am a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. I have been described by some people (mostly jerks and simpletons) as “diplomatic.” I do not get angry at people. This is because I understand that no one is really out to get you unless they have been paid to do so and how often do you run into your own personal assassin? That’s right: only once. Everyone else you meet is just muddling through.

I ordered a DSL modem from Verizon for my new apartment (party forthcoming, I swear it) and was informed that it was being shipped via UPS and would arrive within a week.

I was content with this.

I checked my email and received a tracking number, which is always great if you sit around on the internet all day anyway and there are no penalties for compulsively checking and checking and checking. But hark! I checked the tracking number online and the delivery address listed didn’t have my apartment number! Well, let me just pick up the phone and get that straightened out… lessee… put me hold for a while, sure, sure, standard operating pro- yes, that’s fine that I’m being monitored, I won’t say anything that can be used in a court of law, and AHA! A person; please, Mr. UPS Person, change the package so that it says Apt. 14. Ah, it’s already gone out. That’s fine, I’m sure I’ll get it on the second try.

I come home to find that UPS has left me a helpful little note saying that they found the building, but they don’t know what to do and could I please call. I went to bed, reassured that I had done all that needed to be done.

The next day, I return from work to find a second note explaining that someone must be home to sign for this package between the hours of 9 and 5. Ah, of course, if only I hadn’t killed and eaten my Filipino houseboy. Now who will jerk me off whilst I smoke opium and sign for my packages? I suppose it would be better if they tried to deliver to my office. I call, I am informed that I am being monitored for “training purposes” and I snicker, since I plan on being the model customer that legions of UPS phone people in a session with a stately man in a tweed blazer, brown shorts, and dark socks are directed to as “the Prince” of docile, calm interaction on the phone. “Listen,” Professor Brownsockington will say, “how this saint of a man doesn’t mention the impracticality of signatures necessary for home delivery during business hours. Listen to his exquisite diction (do I detect, UPSettes and UPSmen, a faint Oxford accent?) as he recites his work address and listens to it read back to him. You should be so lucky as to have the likes of him whispering his assertions and polite deviltries into your ear.”

I check the tracking number, just to make sure, and it does indeed say that an address change has been requested. Peachy. I sleep, knowing that soon the internet will be here for me to tickle.

I return from work the next day to find another notice stuck to my door. It says that they’re sorry that I wasn’t home to sign on this second attempt and that they will try a third and final time before “the real trouble would start,” as I interpreted it. I imagined that some time for processing and whatnot should be allowed and surely, surely I would have it turn up at my office tomorrow.

I spent the entire next workday checking the tracking number and interrogating fellow staff as to when UPS normally comes. I took a lunch break from checking the UPS website. I was famished from anxious clicking and mumbled threats which only dire, fell, wolfish men would carry out. Five o’clock came. Nothing greeted me except the knowledge that I would come home to a third note on my door. A note like a red mark, with a DSL modem passing over my apartment instead of God’s wrath.

This note called me naughty. How could you not be home THREE times? Couldn’t you make ARRANGEMENTS? Well, sinner, your package is now in a resettlement camp and will be sent out behind the chemical sheds and shot in three days if you don’t come and get it between the hours of 10AM and 5, Monday through Friday.

I called again, again with nary a hint of aggravation in my voice, again with the knowledge that these systems aren’t perfect and you’re not even the one paying for this the way poor, poor Verizon is. UPS put me on hold for a bit, said I was important, and then subjected me to half an hour of looped UPS advertisements. Did I know that UPS ships more packages to more locations than any other company? No. Did I know that for my really very awfully important documents, next morning delivery was possible? No. Did I know that there are hundreds of thousands of UPS drop-off boxes, nanominiaturized to rest under my fingernails and set to spring forth and unfold using elements drawn from the surrounding air at the very thought of having to send a package? No, wow, that’s really quite amazing.

I didn’t know; but now I did and I would never be able to forget that they had me captive and made me learn their ways.

The man who picked up saw my tracking information just as I could and said that the package really should have come to my office, but in a cosmic sense how could anything be anywhere when it would just double back around time and space and meet itself as it left? It would be at my office in the morning and to make sure, he read back my office address to me. Not too shabby. Now we’re getting somewhere, surely.

Another day at work passed with no package. I had made it a matter of will not to check the tracking number all day. I checked it before I left. It said, “Insufficient address- unable to deliver.”

I went home and called. Very little hold time, which was nice. I explained to the woman what my tracking number was and she saw the oozing litany of hatred for packages. She said, “I do apologize, but we were unable to deliver to”- and she recited the address to my office, if every third letter and number had been removed in order to squeeze all the other characters together. I told her that this was not the address that had been repeated back to me and she said, “I do apologize, but this is the information we have.” I asked how they could get my package to me, quickly, because at this point I was entering ha-ha-ha-hee-hee-hee land. She said that they had already exceeded the number of times they try to deliver a package by one. She prefaced this with, “I do apologize.” I asked for her manager, which is something that I have never, ever done. I felt powerful. They put me on hold for 52 minutes.

I got through this by plugging my headset into my cellphone and then going about my life. I read for a little while. I drove to my girlfriend’s house; one of her room mates let me in and I waited in her room, fiddling around with her computer. She came home around the 51st minute of my listening to a quiet whisper of UPS ads in my ear (they were trying to make me learn again) and asked what I was doing with that smile on my face. I explained and she (because she is beautiful) pointed out that whoever had put me on hold had probably gone home by now.

I called back, got someone quickly, and asked for a manager right away. I got one, gave her my tracking number, and waited for her head to explode at the sheer evil she was confronted with. Instead, she said, “Well, we tried to deliver it to your office, but the address was wrong.” This was my fault in a deeply obvious way that I had somehow missed. I explained that the address had been mangled in an interesting way and asked if it would be possible to just get this sent to my apartment on Saturday, as I would be more amenable to being home and at least I was certain that UPS knew where that was. She said that Saturday deliveries have to be made straight from the airport, as they are special.

I am not special. A week late, over two hours altogether on hold being told what I didn’t know about UPS, and I was not special.

She promised that it would be sent to my office Monday morning. A wiser man would have gotten that in writing, with a name and an address to be reached at, so that a bisected pig fetus could be mailed (via FedEx, of course) to her with a note that said, “this was our trust-piglet and you broke it.”

Monday morning I checked the tracking number. It said “out for delivery.” This could only mean that I would be done, finished, ready to move on. 5 o’clock passed by and I checked the tracking number again. My package had been delivered to Verizon in Pennsylvania. Sent back, away from me.

I called. Very little hold time, as if I was telegraphing my mood down the phone line. Here is my tracking number. Read everything that has transpired. I used a dirty word, said that they had done this dirty word upwards, and done it five times. I asked what I had to do to get this package. The guy, who to his credit sounded really astonished, said I would have to ask Verizon to send it again. I hung up.

I am not proud of two things. The first is that when I called Verizon, I made the poor man repeat my office address to me twice and had him double check the shipping slip. The second is that when I had a manager on the phone, the only person who could possibly change things for the better, I was polite right up until the point where I yelled, “I’m putting this all on my blog” as I hung up. So, passive-aggression fulfilled, this is my history. Tell everyone you know that hasn’t been burned by UPS that this is the fate that awaits them. Make everyone learn what they don’t know about UPS. Hurt them to help them.


Anonymous Jess said...


11:02 AM  
Anonymous Colin Clay said...

wait... what does this have to do with hummykids!?

7:11 AM  
Anonymous colin said...

more importantly, how did youir blog add "clay" to my name? i didn't write it.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah- I think your browser is set to "autofill" in your name. Now Mr. Hummer knows how to find you better than he does me. Salud.

7:41 AM  

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