Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Free Shipping at UPS

Besides hosting one of the greatest author day events in the history of organized education last week, with free books for every student, I think one of the teachers at the elementary school has just given us all the gift of free shipping. Allow me to explain.

Yesterday, UPS showed up with a good-size box addressed to me from Warrior Sports – the company that I bought Son Number Two’s lacrosse gear from. I hadn’t ordered anything from them recently, so I had no idea what it could be. Son Number Two tore into it and produced a box of Lucky Charms cereal, a package of cookies, a book of stamps, and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day greeting card addressed to him.

This seems like a strange thing for Warrior Sports to be sending my son. Are they just the most Irish, most customer-centered company in the entire world – so much so that they send strangely random and personalized St. Patrick’s Day gifts to every single one of their customers every year? Seems unlikely, but here we are…

Upon opening the card, it had a nice note wishing our son a fun-filled St. Patty’s Day, signed, “Love, Mom & Dad.”

Uh… Hmm…

Honey, did you get a second job at a hockey and lacrosse equipment company and forget to tell me?

No? Me neither. Umm… what the heck is going on here?

Then we flipped the box over and saw the second UPS label – the one with a white sticker covering up the bar codes – and my handwriting in Sharpie marker on the flap of the box.

Mrs. Smith – Fifth Grade – Room 12

*sound of light bulbs turning on in my brain, illuminating the dark, confused, hazy cloud*

Ohhhhhhh! Now I understand what is happening here!

This was the old box that Son Number Two’s lacrosse helmet came in, that I then re-used to hand-deliver a big stack of books to Mrs. Smith’s classroom last week. Mrs. Smith then repurposed the box as a St. Patrick’s Day care package for her son, who is presumably in college and enjoys sugary cereal and snacks and never writes home to his parents, and also shares a first name with my son. No one noticed the old UPS label from Warrior Sports on the bottom of the box, since apparently, I opened it upside down the first time. No one, that is, except for the UPS sorting machine that noticed two conflicting labels and kicked it out to the UPS This-Box-Has-Two-Labels-Fix-It guy, who then chose to cover up the bar codes on the wrong one. So, the very coincidental box came back to my house.

So, we peeled the cover-up sticker off the correct bar codes and put it over the other ones, then grabbed the packing tape from the garage and re-taped the cellophane packaging on the remaining cookies as best we could. Then we bundled it all back up for the poor, starving, possibly pre-diabetic college student.

Off we went to the UPS store, where we waited in line to talk to the young lady at the counter. I explained the situation to her and told her I wanted to make sure the label would still work to get it to the college student so he could finally write a letter home to his wonderful parents who have excellent taste in cookies, demanding to know what happened to over half of them.

She said, and I quote, “Oh, sure, no problem. It will get there. The labels don’t expire.”

“OK, great. Thanks.” Wait. What?

The labels don’t expire? How can that be?

The first label did work twice to get the box to my house…

*sound of more light bulbs turning on in my head, although this time much slower, like they were on dimmer switches*

Um… does this mean what I think it means? If you have someone you regularly send things to, I’m pretty sure you never have to pay for shipping again. Just ship it once back and forth with the labels on opposite sides, and never remove the labels. Then simply cover up the other label every time you want to send it back, for free.

I feel like, as a multi-billion-dollar worldwide corporation, UPS would have figured out a fix for this, like for instance, having the labels expire, but here we are.

Thanks, Mrs. Smith, for the life hack! And a very happy St. Patrick’s Day to the young Mr. Smith. Study hard, write your parents, and for goodness sake, don’t forget to brush your teeth.

As for the rest of you, enjoy your free shipping while it lasts. They’re bound to catch on sooner or later.

In the meantime, you’re welcome, America.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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