Dianna in comments below reminded me of my last experience with UPS in Berkeley. You see, I had thought my dad was coming to pick me and my stuff up and drive us home to San Diego. Then, a week before my move-out date, I got a call from him telling me he'd rather not, and I should just ship my life down and take a plane. Suddenly I needed to arrange for shipping and get everything sorted and packed and set by the end of the weekend. I tend to like to have everything planned well in advance, and don't handle sudden, drastic changes of plans very well. But I recovered, and after a half hour spent alternately punching the wall in the bathroom and clutching my head, I calmed down and bought some boxes and packing material.

I learned something in packing that weekend: Books are heavy. Similarly, lots of books are very heavy. A medium-sized moving box full of books is about 100 pounds heavy. I also learned something about myself that weekend: Thanks to my sunken chest and string beany arms, I can't really lift a 100 pound box.

Zoom forward to 7 AM Monday, after I'd made arrangements for UPS to come and take my packages. I figured I'd leave them in the vestibule of the building. Nobody was likely to steal them there, mostly because they weigh so much, and it was more convenient than leaving them in my room for the UPS guy to get. So I endeavored to get my boxes downstairs. It bears mentioning, at this point, that my building had no elevator, and I lived on the fourth floor. The other four boxes were relatively easy; with some effort, I could lift them and get them downstairs. The box of books was a different story. I loaded them up onto a small dolley that I'd used for groceries in the past, then strapped it on with a bungee cord. I carefully got it down the first flight of stairs, and everything seemed to be going well.

A third of the way down the second flight of stairs, I accidentally let the dolley flip into an upright position. Gravity and momentum caused the box to fall from the front of the gurney, and soon the bungee cord gave way, snapping off of the box. Recall that it is 7 AM on a Monday morning, and I had been trying to be quiet. It's more or less at this point that I gave up in that endeavor, as the box rolled down the stairs, "BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! CRASH!!" Meanwhile, the strain of carrying the box had bent the poor dolley out of shape (This was a cheap plastic dolley) and it would be no further use to me. I went downstairs and tried pushing my box to the top of the next staircase, then getting below it and slowly inching it down the last flight of stairs. The box was battered, but the books, as it turned out, were fine.

So anyhow, I had a full day of work scheduled, so I left a note for UPS saying I'd be out, but the packages were waiting in the vestibule (Which they could see through the glass building doors) and that they just had to call me at the office phone number and I'd be there within 5 minutes to let them in, hand them the packages, sign them over, and everything.

Around 2 in the afternoon I started getting paranoid that someone might take my boxes (I was in a paranoid mood that week) so I clocked out and ran home to check. The packages were still there, and so was a note attached to my letter: "We do not call! You must be here!"

Well, I didn't want to leave my stuff there for the night, and I sure didn't want to go through the ordeal of that morning again, not to mention hauling everything up three flights of stairs. So I went online and discovered that, for a mere $40, I could schedule another pick-up that day. I resigned myself to not going back to work for the day and scheduled a second visit.

So I went downstairs to await the UPS driver, biding my time by mentally preparing a tirade about all the things that had happened that weekend and that morning and this was just the cherry on the cupcake. Naturally I said none of it; I'm much braver in my head than I am in real life.

So the UPS guy arrived. As it happened, it was a UPS girl. She was gruff and surly, and I was apologetic even though I had not, in fact, done anything wrong. She brought out her dolly and asked me to load my packages on, as I needed to officially hand the packages to her. The first four boxes were easy. Then I came to the book box. I squatted down, gripped it, grunted, groaned, and gradually managed to lift it an inch off the ground. I shifted my grip, and slowly got it onto the dolly, then exhaled and collapsed. At which point she asked "Why the hell would you pack a box so heavy you can't lift it?" To which I meekly replied, "Well... I didn't know it was that heavy when I packed it, it just sort of happened." She'd turned around and started wheeling the dolly out half-way through my mumbled explanation. She got the dolly to the curve and started loading boxes into the truck. When she came to the book box, I offered to help, with the idea that I could hold one half while she held the other. She laughed and said "How on earth can you help me? You can't even lift it!" And that's how the last vestiges of my sense of masculinity were shattered.

They did a good job with the packages, though. Everything was delivered fine, and they were less expensive then USPS.


You know how people like to use "lol" online about things that really didn't make them laugh out loud in the least?

I'd like to assure you that that isn't the case here. I did, actually, giggle audibly when I got to "BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! CRASH!!", and Jacob (my boyfriend) asked what in the world was so funny. Then he giggled too.

I'm also entranced by the grand, sweeping statement, "We do not call!" Not, "we cannot call you to be here for a pickup", not merely, "you have to be here in person", not, "you can't leave a note telling us to call", but rather, under no circumstances will the dignity and position of the United Parcel Service be compromised by placing a phone call. We are Marines; we do not surrender. We are UPS; we do not call.

Now, to be fair to UPS, they did a very good job with the package after it got loaded into the truck. It really was stupid of me to pack so many books in a large box; when I shipped my stuff to New York I mixed book with less dense matter, like DVDs and board games. But they made up for my lack of wisdom by taking good care of the package in transit. When I got down to San Diego, I found the box had been completely coated in tape except for the address label, courtesy of UPS. This is good because when I unpacked it I found great gaping holes in the cardboard, though apparently no books missing. By the time my books arrived, it was no longer accurate to say they were being conveyed in a box; rather, they were contained by a large, cube-shaped wad of packing tape.

At the same time, "We do not call!" is completely true, not embellished in the slightest. I think it's a great credo. USPS should follow suit by changing their credo from "Neither snow nor sleet nor gloom of night will keep these carriers from the speedy completion of their appointed rounds" to "No matter what time of day it is, at least one counter worker will be on break, and they will tag-team to make it so," or possibly "Don't annoy your mail man or you'll never get mail again. Ever."

Cube-shaped wad of packing tape! With ventilated cardboard lining!

The Post Office, on the other hand, once lectured me for bringing a package to be shipped into the box lobby wrapped entirely in two layers of duct tape.

Parse that sentence any way you damn well please.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on September 11, 2005 3:44 PM.

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