I’ve been waiting for this package for forever. I ordered something from Amazon, but I didn’t realize that the product I purchased was sold from a third-party, from somewhere in China. I got an email one day in broken English informing me that my tracking number could be plugged in on the China Post web site.
So I dug in my heels and prepared for a long wait. I mean, it’s China, it’s like on the other side of the planet. It boggles my mind how we’re able to send things even across our own country, but from China? Man, I buy one item, what kind of process is that like, getting that one item from China to New York?
Does it go on a boat? On a plane? And then there’s the whole question of taxes, of customs, I don’t know, I’m sure that the system works, because stuff comes from China all the time. What doesn’t work, and this I’m all too familiar with, is the United States Postal Service. It’s terrible.
Talk about low-hanging fruit, complaining about the Postal Service is almost not fair. It’s like written into their charter or something, that in addition to never stopping for rain or sleet or snow, they also have to make the most routine pickups and deliveries as maddeningly impossible as they can. I’ve had problems with the Postal Service in the past, and I’ve vowed never again, but every once in a while you don’t have a choice.
It’s the default option. I didn’t specifically choose for my most recent package to be shipped via the USPS, but when I plugged that tracking number into the China Post’s web site, it eventually told me that it was located in some sorting center in New York. OK, well that’s something, I thought to myself, at least my package and I are in the same country. It should only be a matter of time before it shows up at my door.
But then a week passed. And then a month. I’d go on to the China Post web site and enter the tracking number, but the New York sorting center was the last information it gave. I tried the USPS web site, and much to my delight, it recognized the tracking number. Apparently the Postal Service attempted to deliver my package on October 15, but nobody was there, so they left it at the Post Office.
I clicked on an option to schedule a redelivery for the 25th. That date came and went without any package. That Monday I figured I’d drop by the branch, see if maybe they had it at the office. Actually going to the Post Office, it’s a last resort, you’re only there because everything else you’ve tried has gone repeatedly wrong.
I opened the doors and the place was jam packed with bodies, a line that had nowhere to go, so it just kind of started snaking in on itself, like I had to ask several people to move and reposition themselves just so I could join them at the very end. And even with four tellers actively helping customers, it seemed as if no progress was being made at all.
I tried to mentally prepare myself for a long wait. I took out my phone, started reading the paper. Still, I couldn’t help but feel my pulse accelerate every time I took stock of my life, standing here on this line, it was getting close to an hour here, every ten minutes or so someone ahead of me or behind me would verbally announce their frustration, a whispered, “Come on!” or an, “Unbelievable,” all laced with several grunts, sighs, these general noises of being totally pissed off yet completely unable to do anything about it.
When I finally got to the window, I told a guy wearing a “Steve” name tag about my problem. He told me to hold on, and then disappeared somewhere in the back for maybe fifteen minutes. He eventually resurfaced, shaking his head, telling me to write down my name and number, that he’d give me a call when they found it.
I never got a call. I came the next day and repeated the same routine. After explaining my situation to someone else, I was told to wait by the side for a supervisor. It’s not just the waiting that got to me, it’s the waiting that’s punctuated by five or ten seconds of ridiculous instructions. Step to the side. Give me your address. Wait here. When I finally spoke to the man in charge, the best he could do for me was hold up his hands in confusion and apologize.
What could I do? I voiced my frustration, I explained how long I’d been waiting, and yeah, the guy acted genuinely sympathetic, but what could he do? What could any more complaining do? I was beat by a faceless institution, a mail delivery service fueled by high wait times and general incompetence. I guess I could have stood there and chewed him out for a little longer, I mean, he wasn’t acting defiant or anything. But would I get my package in the end?
No, so now I have to file a claim and hope that I get my money back. What a waste. How absurd is it that I can buy something from across the world only to have that delivery totally botched right at my doorstep? It’s got to be somewhere, right? Was it delivered to the wrong house? Is it buried in the back of some truck somewhere? I have no idea. I’ll never figure it out. All I know is that, going forward, I’ll pay whatever it takes to make sure that USPS stays far, far away from my stuff.
Every once in a while I’ll hear something in the news about the Postal Service, how it’s going bankrupt, how without assistance from Congress they’re going to have to cancel Saturday delivery or even fold up all together. Normally I’d be like, come on, let’s get our act together. But seriously, just shut it down. What a waste. Quasi-government run operations like the Postal Service only exist for groups like the Tea Party to point at and rail about the government’s inability to get anything done. Enough wasting everybody’s time and money on the USPS. Just let UPS and FedEx take over completely.