Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dear Postmaster General John E. Potter

The above is a screen shot from your very convenient track and confirm page. Everything was going along swimmingly with this package, (which is a Christmas gift my Mom ordered for my seven year-old daughter, who is on the brink of discovering the truth about Santa) until somehow, some fuck-up thought the state on the package read OK rather than OH and sent it off deep into the wrong direction.

So, I called 1-800-ASK-USPS for help because you said "We're here to help." In truth, no one was there to help. I went through a wild goose chase of menu options, none of which were "talk to a customer support representative." I gave up and sent an email through your "Contact Us" link only to be told that a postal service worker would contact me in one to two business days. One to two business days will probably translate to Monday...three days AFTER Christmas.

I called my local post office and finally did talk to a person, Marilyn. She was friendly enough and thought I nailed it right on the head with my OK/OH theory. I asked her if there were any way we could expedite the package, even pay extra. She said no since they have no idea where the package is until it checks in again, which, really? I mean, seriously? You all don't know? So, seeing as how it took 5 days to travel the wrong direction, I'm sure it will take at least that to get back. Which translates to Monday...three days AFTER Christmas.

So here's my theory: The package will arrive in time for Orthodox Christmas and We'll get a call from your representatives around Easter. We'll get no apology and the box will be crushed and have stamps from FL, PA, OK, OBX, NS, TGIF's and USSR (having gone back in time before hitting our doorstep).

The worst part about this is that, yeah, it kind of sucks that my daughter won't get her impossible-to-find anomatronic hamster toy and habitrail for Christmas (Occidental), but at no time did I get an apology for the mistake. I got: Your item was misrouted by the shipper. The error has been corrected and every effort is being made to deliver it as soon as possible. How much extra would it have cost to add "We apologize" at the end of that statement? Why didn't Marilyn apologize to me. Why didn't she have the power to find the package, find a plane and get that thing on there? Oh, yeah...I forgot: you're with the government.

Don't get me wrong; I support the government. Hell, I'm a liberal and I'm all for big government. And I understand you may have had to lay people off and you don't have anyone to man the phones. And it's the want some time off too. Fine. Then don't then lead me to expect I'll get service by using a friendly 1-800-Ask-USPS number. Don't give me a shipping window that, while a generous estimate for UPS, would be considered wildly creative wishful thinking by postal workers. And don't mislead me into thinking that the post office cares any more than it did 25 years ago. If you're not going to be a stickler for details, let us know the truth. Change your motto from "Connecting People and Business" to "Using the shotgun effect to deliver mail and trusting that eventually we'll sort it all out."

You'd think that since mail volume fell some by some 28 billion pieces this year, you'd have time to look at an address and put packages on the proper trucks. Or would it just be easier for Ohio to change it's name to Ziox, in order to avoid further confusion. Perhaps you've cut employee's vision care so they can't afford glasses and therefore cannot distinguish between a "k" and an "h." Whatever the reason, I'd call this a fail on the level of urban legend.

Let's just hope Santa bails your ass out on this one.

Flannery Alden

Update: My Mom received a phone call from an apologetic and patronizing woman. She said she was sorry but the package wouldn't arrive until Saturday. She also kept saying that "Parcel Post is 3rd class mail" and we should have shipped it some other way. Now, my Mom is totally bummed. Thanks, John, for ruining Christmas.

My Christmas To-Do List

Hello my little sugar plums! I hope you all are ready for whatever kind of Christmas you want most:

  • All the bells and whistles with lots of presents

  • A spiritual and inspiring day to celebrate life in mid-winter

  • A sky-clad dance around the burning yule log

  • A long sob and a tall Long Island ice tea

I'm gearing up for a special event myself; I'm hosting my Dad's side of the family for Christmas. On Sunday, I'll have 13 people in my little house. It's been a bit of a logistical struggle. My house isn't exactly palatial. I actually don't have a dining room, so having a meal has proven to be a bit of tricky business.

But Doc's been a real trooper and the kids have started to help out too. Last weekend we got the basement, kitchen and living room standing tall. Last night we got Riley's room spiffed up and we got started in Lucy's room and our room. Lucy has been a big help since she is willing to give up most of her toys to charity. We actually had to go through her box and put stuff back! Riley is very sentimental and reluctant to part with much of anything. To clear her clutter, we'll be bagging it up and putting it in the basement so she can still get to it if she wants.

So, what we do we have left to do before Sunday?

  • Finish cleaning our room

  • Finish cleaning Lucy's room

  • Clean front bathroom

  • Clean back bathroom

  • Magic-erase the walls (just to take the crayon off of it, not remove the walls entirely)

  • Go grocery shopping

  • bake cookies

  • prepare large batch of mac and chees for the vegetarians

  • Do a final number-puzzle shuffle to maximize room in the kitchen

  • Set up a table in the basement for people to eat at (the basement is finished so they won't be eating in a cave...ooh...maybe I should get some candles to warm it up down there!)

Everything else can be done on the day of the party, such as preparing the roast and if I'm feeling lucky the Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Roll-ups with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce. Doc thninks we'll be spending Christmas day cleaning, but I think we'll be fine. We got a lot done yesterday and I think I can knock out the bedrooms and the bathrooms tonight.

The rest is gravy.

Anyhoo...We're busy and happy and everyone seems to be playing on the same team. It's not too cold out and January still doesn't seem like a reality yet. But when winter finally does heft herself up and plop down on our heads, we'll find a way to remember that spring is just around the corner. Until then, we can enjoy our de-clutterfied home, play with our toys and laugh our heads off.

Merry Christmas to you. Hugs and kisses!



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do you remember that one time we did that thing?

Yeah, back in the day...It was you and me and that one girl who used to wear the stripey hat? She would never take that thing off...what the hell was her name? Anyway, we we were headed to that one place by the deal behind the place that used to be a Red Barn and we saw those dudes. They were hanging out near the back of that other place across the street. Remember? They were drinking green slurpees and spitting at us.

Anyway, I ran into one of them the other day and he was all like "Ahh!" and I was all "Shut up!" and we laughed and laughed. Then we went out and got some of those hot drinks at that coffee shop near the back of the school off of what used to be Route 62. While we were there they were playing that song by that chick and he got all weepy. And I was like "Aw," and he was like, "I know, right?" And then we laughed until we spit coffee at each other.

After we cleaned up we were walking past the video store that used to be a movie theater and we were remembering the time we all saw that one movie with that guy in it before he was married to that one actress but after he married the other one. That was before the spitting, of course...we were just kids. But we were laughing at how dumb that movie was and I told him you and I still hung out and he was all "No way!" and I was like "Duh!" and we almost got hit by a car when we tried to cross that street over by the green house that burned down.

Anyway, he wanted me to tell you "Hi."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mysteries of the Universe: Walk-In Beer Coolers

Did you ever walk into one of those self-serve beer coolers in a convenience store? Bell Stores has them, I believe, among others. Well, on the rare occaision that I buy alcohol, I usually grab it on the way somewhere from a convenience store. I usually pull up in the parking lot and head into the store. Often, there are coolers of beer that you open up and select a six pack from and go merrily on your way. But sometimes, there are coolers that you must walk into. I'll be just fine, strolling along, everything's normal. Then I realize I've got to rescue my beer from a frozen tundra. So I open the door to the walk-in cooler, step inside, breath in once and suddenly...
I have to pee. And it's an emergency. No longer do I have the leisure to compare prices or choose what beer has the most appealing label. I have to grab some Budweiser and haul ass outta there. Usually, I'll need to set the beer down and get me to a lavatory. It's very inconvenient.
Does this ever happen to you? I mean, what the hell, right?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Aveatque Vale: Midnight Kitty

I'm sure you've probably already heard from Doc that our kitty, Midnight, was struck by a car sometime Tuesday night and died, we are sure, instantly. Those who have met us know that I wasn't crazy about this old cat. We adopted her as an adult cat in 1999 from a wealthy family. I remember going to the door of their HUGE house and waiting for the lady of the house gather up Midnight's gear while her many priviliged children stared at me.

I got Midnight in the car and she curled up shivering at my feet as we made the 45 minute drive home. She was scared at our house and she tried to hide in small places, which was tricky because she was HUGE too. Fortunately, she had a bell on her collar at that time and we could usually find her. One day, while we were at work, she got behind the dryer. I couldn't find her, but Doc did. He tipped the dryer towards him and she hopped up on it, then up on his shoulders. Ever since then, Doc has been her favorite.

Don't get me wrong, she could be nice to me if I were feeling sick. She'd snuggle up on my side or back and keep me warm. She was especially fond of me when I was pregnant. But once I had Riley and then Lucy, she and I didn't see eye to eye. I became averse to her and she to me. Every now and then, she'd attack me for no good reason. She'd just be walking past and something in her little kitty brain would just SNAP and she'd jump for my head.

But since the kids are no longer babies, she and I developed a kind of detant. Since I'm the first one up in the mornings, she would make sure I was up at least 10 minutes before the alarm went off. I'd feed her and let her out and go about my day. She'd greet me in the driveway sometimes when I got home or she'd look up and nod "hey" to me if she were in the house. She returned to snuggling with me on my puny days and we grudgingly pressed on together.

Originally, Midnight was an indoor cat, but when we got her, we lived in the country. She was itching to get out and see it all. She'd stay close to the house and was content to sleep near the bird feeders. But eventually, she'd get brave and she started crossing the street to head up the forested hill. We worried about her crossing the street. It was not a busy street, but when someone came down that road, they flew. But she survied and never got hurt.

We eventually moved to a town house in the suburbs, where Midnight didn't get to go out. We tried putting a harness on her, but she would just melt to the floor. It was very strange. She would not stand up if you put a leash on her.

Eventually we came to our current house, which has a great big back yard but is on a busy street. We've been here almost four years and all that time, Midnight has gone outside. One time she left and didn't come home for three days. But other than that, she's stuck close to home and never ventured to the front yard...that we know of.

Sadly, she must have found her bravery or curiousity drove her to try to get to the other side of the street. Adventure lured her and she took the bait. Only to be struck down on the street.

I was punched with a fistful of grief in the gut when I saw her remains. She's been a part of our family for 11 years or so and the girls have never known life without her. We've fed her, cleaned up after her, pet her, endured her moods, and tripped over her in the middle of the night. I blamed noises in the house on her rather than get scared by creaks I couldn't rightly explain. But I will miss that old girl.

Hail and fairwell, Midnight. We'll miss your imperious presence and your warmth on days we feel puny.