Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Going Postal, part 2

II: The 4-Month Delivery
(January – April, 2002)

My freshman year at college was my first real experience of living on my own. With that experience came a slew of life lessons, oft times learned the hard way. I learned that bringing an acoustic guitar to college is a bad idea, unless you want to be "that guy", and I learned that no matter how you dress it up, ramen noodles are never a good choice when you tell a girl you will cook her dinner. I also learned that an equation made up of (one bored college student) + (the novelty of eBay) + (access to a roommate's credit card) = bad news for all parties involved.

(Regarding the previous sentence, let it be said that I always paid back any and all expenditures, lest I be esteemed a villain.) During one of my (what quickly became daily) scrolls through the online auction house, a particular item caught my eye—a Braille edition of a book, which was certainly a collector's item. Being overcome with giddiness, I purchased the book and was surprised that shipping was only an additional $12, as Braille books are usually rather large and have to be broken up into multiple volumes. The seller was quite prompt in shipping the book, being told that, due to its size, it would arrive "within eight to twelve business days".

When the eighth business day passed, I started anxiously checking the mail. When the twelfth business day passed, I was a bit miffed. When the twentieth business day passed, I asked the mailman what the deal was, to which he replied that since there was no tracking number, I would just have to "wait until it show[ed] up". When the thirtieth business day passed, I began keeping a watchful eye on the news to make sure I-80 had not been blocked by some sort of natural disaster or, as I feared, a wizard.

You shall not pass!
As the business days turned into business weeks and then into business months, I began to give up all hope regarding my long-lost book. It was just as I was considering buying another book (that had popped up on my eBaydar) when I came home from class one day to discover, much to my surprise, a large box waiting by my door. Upon opening it, I discovered that my book had finally arrived! With 106 calendar days on its belt, I hoped to find foreign postage, burn marks, and other such things one would expect from such a far traveler; after all, it is more-or-less a straight-shot down I-80 from Des Moines to Provo. However, the box was in perfect condition—ruling out falling from a truck or being taken in a hostage crisis—and the postmark was marked on the day when the seller said he sent it—ruling out any tomfoolery on his part. There was only one viable solution left: the USPS, doing its job as per expectations.

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
After exhausting multiple avenues—I quickly learned that if you have a problem with the postal system, it is quite difficult to actually speak with someone regarding the problem—I had a conversation with Kevin, manager of the Provo post office. When I asked him what could have possibly happened to make a package be delivered more than four times longer than me actually walking to Iowa, picking it up, and walking back, he simply replied that "sometimes, these things happen". Though I kept silent at the time, I realize now I should have taken a cue from Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera: "Si! These things do happen! Well, until you stop these things happening, this thing does not happen!"

Broadway jokes, anyone?


Tiff said...

Your rapier(sp?)wit is astounding. I love the pics as well. Carry on!