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The Column

Open Letter to My UPS Man
8/24/03

Dear UPS man. Or woman. It's hard to tell with those brown shorts and button t-shirt.

I know that I live on the third floor of a walkup. I know that stairs can be very tricky. I know that you have had a long, tiring day, because wherever I live, it is always the last stop on your route. But I, unlike you, also know that two comes before three and one comes before two.

Allow me to explain. Actually, you have no choice. I've already written this letter, much like you've already written a note saying you'd attempted to leave my package three times. Really, you tried to leave it no times, which is three times less than you said. I use "less" rather than "fewer" because "fewer" is used in situations when there is an exact count. And I can't begin to count how many times UPS has screwed up my packages. Though I'm going to try. Let's start with the one last week.

You left a slip on the front door of my building telling me you'd tried to deliver my package for the third time, and I should pick it up in the warehouse. I found this note odd, since to be a third time, that time has to come after a first or second time, preferably both. Also, I was in my apartment when you left the note. I know that because I found it on my way out, meaning I had to have been in. So in reality, you did not try to deliver my package, ever. You did, however, try to leave a note telling me you tried to deliver my package. In that effort, you were quite successful.

Of course, you did not fill out the part of the note that tells me who sent the package, so I have no idea what you didn't give me. Nevertheless, I want it. I want it enough to have called your hotline only to wait on hold for a half hour. I didn't mind the wait so much. When I saw the note about the package you didn't try to give me, I was on my way to the airport. And while waiting for a flight to San Antonio, there's not much else to do but call the UPS hotline.

The woman I finally spoke to said that the package was available for pickup in the New York warehouse. I told her I was on my way to Texas for a week so today would not be an option. She replied, "then you could come pick it up tomorrow if you like." "Miss," I said, "I don't think you understand the exact location of Texas."

She finally agreed to resend the package to me the following Monday. Sure enough, I left my apartment Tuesday morning and saw a note telling me that you tried to redeliver the package three more times, and it was going back to the warehouse again. I was impressed with your uncanny ability to not deliver the package three times in one day.

I called again, and they gave me a different number to call. I called that one and they also gave me a different number to call. I called that one, and it turned out to be the first one I called and then they got mad at me for calling back so soon. Finally, a woman asked me why I never put a trace on the package. I wasn't sure why I hadn't, but probably because I don't work for UPS and I don't know what the hell a trace is or when to use it. So she put a trace on it for me, and found out that the package was again in a warehouse - in Virginia.

I explained that I needed the package more than Virginia did, although I still didn't know what was in it. Whatever it was, it was mine. After I said this, the woman wanted to know if I could call the shipper and have them resend the package. "Miss," I said, "I don't think you understand the exact location of Texas." Okay, so I didn't say that. But I did tell her that it'd be hard to call the shipper when I didn't know who the shipper was. But she probably didn't know the location of Texas. After all, she thought a package sent to New York should go to Virginia.

UPS man, or woman (it's hard to tell with those brown shorts, button t-shirt, and asexual baseball cap), I understand your life is difficult. Your truck has no doors, which must get frustrating when it rains. But someone paid you to give me a box, and all you've given me is a larger phone bill and two notes that pretend to be six. You owe me a box. And four notes.

The woman on the phone said the only thing she was authorized to do was to put a complaint in about you. While I did want to punish you for your laziness, I didn't think it was fair to write you a complaint for this. So I asked her if instead, she could write up three.

At least you know where they're coming from.

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