Friday, March 11, 2011
A Open Letter To UPS
My best friend works in publishing. In fact, she works in my very favourite genre, young adult. I read a lot of books, but I am also very poor. So, when her department decided to purge the unnecessary ARCs, or Advanced Readers Copies, of books they had lying around the place (and because she's a kickass best friend), she naturally thought of me. After some back-and-forth e-mailing on preferred authors and themes, she packed up TWO lovely boxes of books and sent them my way, courtesy of you generally reliable shipping service.
This was last week. This morning, she called to inform me that according to her tracking information, the books would be arriving on my porch at some point today. Seeing as how it's Friday, I have no life and am something of a recluse to boot, my weekend plan immediately became "BOOKS!" I spent the day happily bouncing in my seat, watching it snow, and chanting "Books, books, books, books, books." It was cold, windy, snowing, and my dog was being a giant butt, but nothing was going to bother me because there were FREE BOOKS headed my way.
The day dragged on into night, and the books never arrived. "Alright," I thought sadly, "that's okay, Laura must have misread the tracking information." It was depressing, but just one of those things. Laura's a busy girl, she was having a stressful day. It happens.
Then you called me. The driver, you said, had not been able to find my house, could I provide some directions? The packages would arrive Monday, you said.
Here's the thing. My address is a 1/2. I live at 905 1/2. What that means is that there are two residences at the same address, and mine is one of them. All you have to do is find 905, and you've found me. It's not complicated, I swear to God. It's as easy as locating a single suite or apartment in a building, only instead of a floor, I have a separate house. To make it easier, I live on a highway. It's one of only two numbered highways in town. And we're right on it. If you stand in the middle of it and throw a rock in our direction, you will probably hit my house. You don't even have to have a very strong arm to pull it off.
I know that most maps get us wrong. Google Maps thinks I live on the other side of town, on 3rd street, even though the only thing my road and 3rd street have in common are a "3." It's frustrating, but ultimately not a big deal because my town is this big. It's tiny. If you end up on 3rd, you could park there and walk to me without straining yourself too hard. Not that you would, because in the past lost UPS and FedEx drivers have simply parked somewhere central and called me to get directions. I don't know what made this instance different, why this driver decided to take the packages all the way back to the distribution center in Elkins, a good 2 hours away. My guess is that his GPS couldn't find me, and rather than call me or stop and ask someone in town, the driver decided to call it a day. It was a Friday, he was probably tired. Maybe he had plans or a super hot date.
My only point is that, while the GPS and other devices like it have made life so much simpler in so many ways, they've also put us at a disadvantage. It doesn't occur to us to stop and ask for directions as quickly as it did only a few years ago. And in a small town like this one, asking the locals is an invaluable habit to hold on to. Doing so would have taken only a few minutes, and while the local in question may not have known where the house was precisely, they sure as heck would have known which street it was, seeing as how it's MAIN STREET.
I'm not mad at you, UPS. I'm not even mad at your driver. This is a silly letter you will never see, and a thoroughly first world complaint. But maybe the next time your GPS takes you to a vacant lot or unmarked road, you'll stop and ask a human for help. We're not as infallible as computers, but we're not obsolete yet. That's the point I wanted to make, I guess.
Oh, and the 1/2 address thing. That's important, too.