Geography 101 Meets Stupidity

Kids, it’s important to pay attention in school especially if you plan to serve the public.

Let me tell you a story now of stupidity gone wild, and how I went postal on the US Postal service today.

I’ll start at the beginning and give you the girl version of the story as best as I can since I am a man.

My dear friends in St Croix, Michael and Terry, asked me if I would forward a package to them via the US Postal Service that they were expecting from England. The package from England contained parts for their second Land Rover. The parts were critical to get the vehicle up and running. Right now it is just sitting in their driveway.

You see, domestic priority mail actually is more dependable to the USVI that FedEx or UPS. I would act as a middle man and reroute the package from an international shipment to a domestic shipment.

It made sense to ask me. I am on the East coast. I have enough sense to mail a package, it was a perfect match. Plus I was more than happy to help them. They have been so generous with their time for Gigi and me in the past. I considered it an honor to help.

One bright and cold morning the package arrived all the way from the mother land. I was excited. You know how much I like packages. This package had already traveled 4,000 miles and it was my turn to usher it on to the last 1851 miles to Christiansted.

The following morning I walked into the post office around 8:43:54 AM give or take a nana second and began talking to Clerk number 05. I told her that I needed to ship this package priority mail to the United States Virgin Islands.

This is the point where your previous “book learning” kicks in to differentiate between the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. This would tell you it is a domestic shipment just like if I shipped a package to Alabama.

“No”, she said, “This is international and you must fill out a customs form.”

“Are you sure? This is the US just like Guam, Puerto Rico or South Carolina.”

“I’m sorry but you must fill out a customs form to the Virgin Islands.” She was insistent.

She stood over me while I filled in the domestic address, gave a description of the contents and checked whether I wanted the package to come back to me if they screwed up somehow in delivery.

“I will need a tracking number please.”

“We can’t do this for international shipments.”

“It’s not international it’s domestic”, I said.

“How long will it take to get there?”

“It should be there in three to five days.”


“That will be $84.”

“Shit!” I muttered.

I emailed Michael that the package was on its way.

Yesterday I got an email from Michael asking if I could check on the package from my end since they had not received it yet. Friday is Michaels day off and designated day to work on the Rover.

I pulled my receipts and noticed something strange. My instructions clearly indicated where to send the package but the idiot Clerk number 05 decided to send the package to another country, the British Virgin Islands.

Now I find it a bit ironic that the package came from England and now resides back in British territory.

I called the Midland, NC branch of the US Postal service and spoke to clerk number 05.

She said that there was no way to mail a package to the US Virgin Islands; it had to go to the British Virgin Islands. She explained that when she put Virgin Islands in her computer it came back with BVI.

“Even though I gave you a domestic address you shipped it to a foreign country?”

“Hold just a second please…[long wait] …yes, that’s right. We had to ship it to the British Virgin Islands. Everything else was grayed out on my computer.”

“Shouldn’t that have set off an alarm to you that you were shipping the package to the wrong country? This is not that hard.”

I could hear uproarious laughter in the background as the logistic geniuses were wrapping up their work day.

“Can you hold a second please,” she asked curtly.

A stern voice came on the line. “This is Janice, how can I help you?”

“Janice, you mailed my domestic package to a foreign country and I am trying to track it down.”

“What’s the tracking number?”

“You told me you don’t give a tracking number for a foreign shipment.”

“Oh, then there is no way we can track your package. It is somewhere in the Virgin Islands”

“Janice, this was to be shipped to a domestic address but you guys chose to ship it elsewhere. How in the hell can we resolve this? What about the customs number on the label?”

“That doesn’t mean anything. We can’t track it by that.”

“Janice, let’s assume we get the package back, can you then ship it to the US Virgin Islands?”

“No, the only option is BVI.”

“Janice, let’s look up the zip code on the address label. Where does that indicate the package should be delivered?”

Long pause…”Oh, I see. She didn’t look at the label. She just punched in the Virgin Islands and came back with the British Virgin Islands. I’m sorry.”

“EXACTLY! Now my package is lost in a foreign country because you were too stupid to look at the shipping label. Plus, I paid God on knows how much extra to send it to the wrong address? How much would it have cost to ship it domestically?”

“I don’t know, I would have to weigh it.”

“It weighed 19 pounds and 4 ounces or 9.9 kilos.”

“Oh I can’t figure that, I would have to put it on the scale to determine the cost.”

“You mean you can’t look up the cost?”

“No, the computer figures the postage from the actual weight.”

“Janice is there anything you can do or am I completely out of luck?”

“Well, we can hope they will send it back once they discover the error.”

“Hell, you didn’t know it was an error until I argued with two of you for 10 minutes! How are they going to figure it out? Just forget it.”

I hung up, threw the phone into the sheet tock and walked out of the office.


Unknown said...

I read the whole thing!!! I feel so special. Nota good special, more of a short bus special.

Anyway I really hope they send that sucker back. I would think once it circles the globe with no real destination it would be returned to you.

The sad part is this is not even geography gone bad. YES someone working at the US Post Office should be familiar with the globe but this is plain laziness and a lack of dedication to their job.

I don't care if you are the CEO of your own company or a burger flipper at McDonalds, take pride in your work. So many people just go to work and do the very least they can to get through the day. You are there, why not take pride in what you are doing at least.

Had this woman taken a moment to realize she had the oppurtunity to help someone and do her job correctly she would have gotten it right and been rewarded by knowing she did a good job.

But istead she is just a lazy B word who should be drug out back and punched in the stomach. (by another woman, I would never condone a man punching a woman!)

Kuckie said...

WOW. I would say you kept your composure really well....I would have been a stark-raving lunatic by then!

Reggie Hunnicutt said...

I would like to see her rolled up in a bed sheet and beat with a car antenna, by another woman of course.

Michael said...

Shit. I hope you didn't break your new skype phone!

We appreciate your help with this and can't believe its become such a mess.

We expect this sort of stuff to happen down here. Despite our politicians objections, we're still pretty much a third world country. But this happened in the States fer chrissakes! One more bit of proof of the dumbing down of 'merika.

If the package actually gets to the BVI, they may be able to figure it out and get it back, or maybe even over to us, since the correct US Virgin Islands address is actually on the box. They have the benefit of the British educational system, which probably hasn't sunk as low as ours... yet.

On the positive side, the only parts in that box crucial to the engine swap, scheduled for tomorrow, are the engine and tranny mounts and my friend Dave thinks he has a spare set. We'll use his, then give him the replacements when/if they ever arrive.

Thanks again Reg. We'll figure it out. Meantime, we'll keep bashing the postal service.

TerryC said...

Hey Reg, I'm sooo sorry you had to go through all that.

Like Michael said, we're used to lousy service and waiting extra long for everything down here, so it's not that big of a deal for us.

Fortunately, Dave has motor mounts and the job will get done this week-end then the blue junker will finally be leaving our driveway (before we leave for STV, right Michael!?)

We owe you big time, Reg!

none said...

That is a government subsidized employee for ya.

Fedex and UPS can be just as stupid but you usually have more recourse with them.

mr zig said...

Aw man - I felt rage build up inside of me just reading your story... Sometimes I love getting into situations like this - especially when I can force them to work it out in the end... These situations are always frustrating, but sometimes they can be a little bit of fun too.

Logzie said...

Oh, this crap makes me so MAD!!!!

Michael said...

Update: All may not be lost. We stopped by our local post office, hoping to get some information about where our package might have landed in the BVIs. Maybe we could be pro-active and intercept it there and have them send it straight over (50 miles) instead of back up to Reggie, then down to us again (a 3700 mile round trip).

We told them Reggie's tale. Even our postal people (not the brightest bulbs in the box) shook their heads in dis-belief at the ineptitude of their pathetic counterpart up north.

But, they had some good news! Seems the packages are still routed manually, using the address printed on the box, not the code on the postage sticker. So if the next postal worker handling the package had just a few more synapses firing than postal clerk No. 5, our package might actually still be on its way here. The clerk we talked to (I didn't get her number) said package delivery had been a bit slow. They usually blame this on customs hold-ups in Puerto Rico.

Reggie Hunnicutt said...

Wow! They actually look at the address label? Leave it to the Brits!

I will pray for a few more synapses firing than postal worker 05 of Midland, NC.