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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Who Can Brown Screw for You?

A couple of months ago, the missus and I made a pact. We wouldn’t buy each other anything for Christmas; instead, we’d do some research and after the holidays, we’d ‘buy each other’ a new television.

(Of course, I still bought her a little something, anyway. As a husband, you never know when ‘don’t buy me anything’ actually means ‘don’t buy me anything‘. And if you don’t cover your ass when you’re married, you may wind up without an ass to cover.)

Anyway, we decided to buy a TV. Our model is several years old, not HD ready and getting rough around the edges. It’s high time we stopped settling for wind-up steam-powered 18th century television and dragged our Cro-Magnon knuckles into the digital age. So we looked around, found a model we liked, and took the plunge.

Where ‘took the plunge’ means we checked the TV out at markup moguls Best Buy, then shopped for a better deal elsewhere. We found a good one — a very good one, in fact — on Amazon, and I pulled the trigger. Three to seven business days later, a note from UPS showed up on the front door saying they’d tried to deliver a package. That was on Wednesday.

(So Christmas is lasting a little longer this year, all right? We do our electronics homework a little slowly. So sue us.)

Thus began a two-day, back-breaking odyssey rife with lies, deception and several possibly herniated discs. Here’s how our televisionary adventure went down:

“I understand that these UPS guys can’t give a specific time to the millisecond when they might be in the neighborhood with my goods, but when ‘after 5pm’ really means ’11:15am’, then you might as well just bend over and deposit that package into your ‘night slot’, because you’re seriously screwing with me.”

The UPS note from Wednesday said that the boys in brown would be back the next day, sometime after five pm. So I left work early, arriving at home at ten till five. I made sure not to leave the house, take a nap, or take any unnaturally long trips to the bathroom while I waited, patiently, for UPS to bring my package.

Which they never did. At seven thirty, I finally gave up and got on with my life. Which in this case involved taking an unnaturally long trip to the bathroom. The lunch burrito is a patient meal, but it cannot be put aside forever. That’s a proverb, or something. Somewhere. Probably.

Later in the evening, I checked my package’s status on handy dandy ups.com, where I found a record that read:

SECOND DELIVERY ATTEMPT UNSUCCESSFUL; NO ONE AVAILABLE FOR SIGNATURE. WILL MAKE THIRD ATTEMPT.

The time associated with the record? Eleven fifteen in the morning. Or six freaking hours removed from the timeline I received with the initial delivery note. I understand that these UPS guys can’t give a specific time to the millisecond when they might be in the neighborhood with my goods, but when ‘after 5pm’ really means ’11:15am’, then you might as well just bend over and deposit that package into your ‘night slot’, because you’re seriously screwing with me. And I think a little quid pro quo is in order.

But that’s just a minor annoyance. The duplicity today makes that gaping six-hour time hole look like the blink of an eye. Or a crack in a night slot. Depends on your mood, I suppose.

Today, I awoke determined to have my TV, and watch it, too. At ten o’clock, I left the house on an errand. But before I flew, I read the back of the UPS note — which nobody in their right mind should ever endeavor to do — and saw clear instructions that if a certain signature box was checked on the front, the deliveryee could sign the back of the note, leave it on the door, and all would be well. That box was checked on my note. So I signed the back, pressed it onto my front door, and left an additional note alongside to let the delivery dude know that yes, I’d signed it, so please to be ponying up the package, pardner. Then I left.

I returned just after eleven am, with an odd intuitive sensation that I was being screwed, again. On a cover-my-ass sort of whim, I decided to take a picture with my cell phone of the notes left on the door. I then went inside, and checked the web site. No change in status from the day before. Great. At least I hadn’t missed the delivery.

An hour later, I checked again, and saw this note:

THIRD DELIVERY ATTEMPT FAILED; NO ONE AVAILABLE FOR SIGNATURE. CUSTOMER PICKUP REQUIRED FOR PACKAGE.

This time, the timestamp read 11:08am. I snatched up my phone and checked the details on the picture I’d snapped on my porch — 11:05.

Oh, hell no, bitch.

Unless that bastard in brown was driving Wonder Woman’s invisible UPS truck, and standing behind me on the porch when I took that photo, no way in effing hell was he at my house at 11:08, or anywhere near it. Son of a bitch probably wasn’t there the morning before, either, because he never left a second note. Full of piss, vinegar, and whatever liquid it is that makes a man want the delivery boy to bring a damned package to his house like he was told to, I stormed off to the car and drove across town to the UPS ‘Customer Care Center’, printouts and copies and phone pics in hand.

The first person I encountered was a friendly older gentleman — a ‘greeter’, standing in the lobby area — who listened, mostly, to the web of deceit and misdirection I described, looked at the status printout and copy of the note I’d brought, and said, perfectly straight-faced, ‘Well, sorry, sir, but you’ll have to pick up your package. The driver already made three attempts.

Have I said, ‘Oh, hell no, bitch‘ yet? Because I almost blurted it out to this nice old guy, helpful though obtuse as he was.

Instead, I showed him the picture of my porch, with the timestamp, as compared to the time of the ‘visit’ the driver logged. Realizing that dealing with crazy assholes armed with visual evidence was assuredly not in his job description, he passed me off to a lady at the counter.

She was a no-nonsense sort of lady, and simply asked what I’d like to do. I told her the package was probably pretty heavy, and I’d greatly prefer having the driver do his job, rather than picking the package up. We had a brief Three Stoogesesque exchange about the text on the back of the delivery notice:

‘I signed it on the back, just like it said.’

‘Yes, but if this particular box is checked, they need a signature in person.’

‘I saw that, but that box isn’t checked on mine. See, here’s the copy.’

‘Oh, well, if it’s something valuable like electronics, they still need it in person.’

‘But it doesn’t say that on the note.’

‘Well, the driver probably wanted to be sure.’

‘Be sure?’

‘To get a signature, when he stopped by this morning.’

‘Oh. A wise gal, eh? Nyuk nyuk nyuk!

Overall, she was a big help, though. She called the dispatcher, explained the situation, and asked that the driver ‘return’ to the house ‘again’ to drop off the package. She did mention, though, when she saw that the package was listed at one hundred twenty pounds that the driver was probably just being ‘lazy’ and didn’t want to lift it.

I assured her that I didn’t want to lift it, either, if I could damned well help it. I opted not to tell her about the thirty-nine stairs from the street to the top of my porch, which puts a little lazy into any red-blooded American. Also, I resisted — barely — telling her that if my package were really one hundred twenty pounds, I’d never leave the house.

That’s right, I took the high road. And passed on an easy penis joke. So you know I was pissed.

I’ll save you a bit of my pain and skip quickly through the next several hours. I went to work. I’d spent so much time in the past two days trying to get the delivery doofus to do his job, I’d spent precious little time doing mine. By three pm, I’d convinced myself that, left to his own devices, the UPS guy would crack the TV in half, carry the pieces up and dump them on the porch in a heap. So I went home early, again. The note was still on the door, and no shattered televisions were strewn around the property.

At six, I called the local package depot, asking what to do next. By that point, I was willing to (try to) pick up my package, the shirking son of a bitch non-delivery guy be damned. They said they’d call the driver and call me back.

At 7:15, I saw a UPS truck parked across the street and a few doors down. Surely, after all of this, the guy would swing over and do his job. I walked onto the porch in case he looked up and saw that he’d have help with the heavy lifting. I wasn’t even going to give him shit about the past thirty hours’ worth of lies and annoyance. Not until we had the package on the porch, anyway.

At 7:17, the truck sped away. At 7:20, the depot called back, saying the driver just couldn’t deliver the package tonight and gosh, we’re really sorry. Asshole.

By eight, I was at the depot, which is luckily just a few blocks form my house. I took my paperwork in, they retrieved the package, and the guy who came back in the office to get me asked, ‘So… you got a truck or something here?

I said no, and he shot me a look that seemed to say, ‘Jeez, what kind of idiot plans to pick up a big package without a truck or something?

I shot him back a look that I hope implied, ‘Yo, what kind of delivery company employs a driver who’s too big of a lying pansy to do his job?‘ I’m not sure it all got through. MIght have lost a little in translation.

I went to see the package, and yes, it was big. And heavy. And too wide and long for someone to carry, even if they could handle the weight. The guy had it on a wheeled dolly, and rolled it out to my car for me. On the way, I explained a bit of how I’d come to be there, and why I was none too happy to be cramming this huge box into my midsize, decidedly non-trucky car. The guy did mention that technically, by union rules, a driver isn’t allowed to lift anything over seventy pounds by himself. I replied that I understood — now, a bit — why the driver was reluctant to wing the thing up my stairs, only:

A) Don’t lie to me about it. Just tell me you can’t do it, and I’ll help or make arrangements or rent a truck or something, like a non-idiot picking up an enormous package.

2) Isn’t delivering packages kind of this guy’s job? I don’t want to lift the thing, either, but I’m not being paid to do it. And there are clearly more than one of you working nearby — isn’t there some sort of ‘two-person delivery protocol’ on your union books?

Not to mention iii) You people have dollies, like the one I’m standing next to right now. I don’t have dollies. I have thirty-eight year old muscles and bad knees. What the hell is wrong with you people?

Again, this guy was very nice and quite helpful — but just like the no-nonsense lady and the no-dealy-with-assholes old man, that still didn’t get the damned TV any closer to my porch. We wedged the package into my trunk — only about 1/3 of it fit in, but it wasn’t going anywhere, ‘as long as you don’t hit any bumps‘, the guy offered. Great. Pothole season in New England, and Sparky here tells me not to hit any bumps. Just peachy.

I did manage, hazards flashing, to get the package home and wrestled it, with great difficulty, out of the trunk. And realized the dilemma that effing no-working UPS driver had put me in. There was little chance I could shimmy the box up the stairs by myself. But my wife was still at the office, our next-door neighbor — a burly and friendly contractor, who would have been an enormous help — was out, and it was eight thirty on a Friday night. Who the hell else would be available and willing — and sober — to help out now? Nobody, that’s who.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t just leave the box there on the curb. Some rogue band of felonious bodybuilders might carry it away. Or a tow truck driver might get the wrong idea, latch onto it, and have himself a brand new — though possibly impaled — television. Or it could rain. And a soggy boob tube encased in melted cardboard helps no one.

So I shimmied the box up the stairs by myself. It took a little over an hour. The outer box was pretty well shredded by all the sliding on the concrete steps by the time I reached the (wooden) porch, so I peeled it off and recruited my wife, who’d made it home by then, to help heave it the rest of the way. It’s now sitting, still in the box, in the middle of the living room. I’ve got aches and cramps in places where I didn’t even know muscles ought to be, but if I can stand up or raise my arms in the morning, I’ll find some way to set the damned thing up. If only to see whether the asshole who ‘tried’ to deliver it stomped on it somewhere along the way.

So I guess it all (hopefully) worked out in the end. The missus and I eventually got our Christmas present to each other, I learned that the most helpful people at UPS are the ones who can’t really do anything for you directly, and there’s some jackass driver out there running his same old low-aerobic, zero-accountability route in our neighborhood. Or sitting in Denny’s and pressing the ‘Oops, tried to deliver your package!’ button on his handheld every ten minutes between fat lazy bites of Grand Slam pancakes.

Still, if the TV works — and I haven’t pulled a lat or a glute or suffered a cardiac hernia, then I suppose it’s all good. And maybe that’ll teach me to buy electronics — particularly heavy electronics — online and have them delivered. But really, it just teaches me that in future, FedEx is the way to go. They may or may not be any better than UPS, but they haven’t royally screwed me yet. Brown, you can go screw somebody else now. I’ve got muscles to soak, and a new TV to watch. Thanks for very little.

Permalink  |  2 Comments



2 Responses to “Who Can Brown Screw for You?”

  1. kerry says:

    i had to come back to this blog to comment because i am now going through this very thing with ups. we ordered a wii from amazon and it was supposed to be delivered today. i’ve been home all day, like every day, and heard nothing. at 3pm i get an email saying that a delivery was attempted and no one answered. this after getting an automated phone call this morning saying they’d be out to deliver the package between 8am and 7pm. there is no way that i would not have heard this guy knock if he knocked, so he obviously didn’t. he tiptoed onto my porch, slapped the postit to my door and ran off. so mad! oh, and the tracking thing says they attempted at 11:04am. i was sitting in my living room at 11:04am! grrr…

  2. Charlie says:

    Those bastards!

    Hope you finally got your package, Kerry. I’m swearing ‘brown’ off and going with FedEx from here on out.

    Until they screw me, too. Then it’s back to carrier pigeons.

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