Friday, August 18th, 2017

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UPS and others seemed to be late with things last holiday season

By MARTHA TOWNS

Most of the time he doesn’t need pity. He drives around in his brown truck stopping at homes and businesses and exchanging a cheery word with his regulars. Those of us who aren’t regulars at least get a doorbell ring to let us know he’s been there. Sometimes we even get to meet him if he needs a signature.

You may have read about UPS after the recent festivities surrounding a certain day which calls for the exchange of gifts. It could be Christmas or it could be Hanukkah but in this case we speak of Christmas.

Is it consumer demand or merchant fear that has led to such things as “order today, get it tomorrow” or “order by noon on (fill in the blank) and we’ll get it there by Christmas”? And what kind of a person demands this sort of service? I’ll tell you what kind; the person who thinks he deserves to be served at his whim. He’s the guy who wants the best table, the best seat in the theater, the best of everything. Sometimes this person is just a habitual procrastinator who expects someone else to take care of his needs.

So add to that the amount of business that is transacted over the Internet, a huge increase this past December, and you have the makings of a perfect storm of packages that people expect to be delivered on time and in perfect shape. They must actually believe there really is a Santa Claus.

Does anyone ever consider what it takes to make their desires come true? Someone has to take the order, someone has to find the order, someone has to package it for mailing and someone has to alert the delivery service. I imagine that much of this work is done by machines, but there are humans involved somewhere. At least for a while. Do we really want drones delivering our orders? I think not. I find the prospect of having drones in our skies doing anything quite close to terrifying. When are we going to start fighting these invasions of our privacy? That’s a whole other issue.

So, all of a sudden, there are zillions more packages to be delivered and so a lot more people are hired to help the drivers (that’s good) and maybe even some more drivers got called in (that’s good) but apparently no one had any idea of the tsunami of brown paper packages (not tied up with string) that was going to pour out of the loading chute. And every one of those packages had to be placed on a truck by hand, especially the ones marked “fragile” and “this end up” and “glass.” It’s exhausting to think about it.

The aftermath was almost humorous. Grown men were complaining that the last-minute gifts they’d ordered didn’t arrive in time for Christmas and the recipients’ Christmases were absolutely ruined. Who got blamed for this miserable situation? The UPS man, that’s who. Here’s the poor guy, working his buns off to provide his usual prompt, friendly service, bombarded by packages purchased by people who couldn’t plan ahead.

The whining on the part of customers got so bad that even the president of Nordstrom had to apologize for disappointing his customers. Those customers should be embarrassed to be complaining about a situation which they themselves caused. Sometimes you just can’t blame anyone else for the results you get.

It was a strange Christmas all around, says nearly everyone I’ve talked to. There was one less week between Thanksgiving and Christmas and that just seemed to throw everyone into a tizzy. I belonged to the “I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas” group and found myself way, way behind the eight ball, which is why I was wrapping presents and filling stockings on Christmas morning. We usually mail our cards on December 15. This time we didn’t even buy them ahead of time. One of our friends actually called from Florida because our card usually arrives first, she hadn’t received it and was worried about us. I was grateful for her concern but annoyed that I caused it because of general slothfulness.

One day when I was up to my elbows in cookie dough, daughter Abby allowed as how I could have made them much sooner and frozen them until needed. There’s nothing like having one of your children tell you what you know to be true even though you don’t practice what you preach.

As for slothfulness, I fear it has moved right into the new year with me. I would like to hibernate as any sensible person would but it is not to be. These long, cold days will give me plenty of time to set a time schedule for next December.

Won’t they?

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