Monday, June 6, 2011

So not only does this thing exist, but now you have deprived everyone of cake!

It's no secret that I have a man-sized man-crush on Ron Swanson from NBC's Parks and Recreation. While I share many of his views on food ("You had me at meat tornado."), body grooming ("Only women shave beneath the neck."), and old wooden sailing ships ("They're beautiful."), it's his political ideologies that I'd like to highlight in this post. Take a look:

"Drop in a token, look at a duck."

Here is a Swanson-esque list of facts detailing an experience I had recently with a government agency, the United States Postal Service.

  • On May 17, I purchased a book, Eat Like A Man, from Amazon. The package was shipped via USPS.

  • The morning of May 19 I checked the tracking number. Its status read "Out for delivery." A day or two ahead of schedule -- I was delighted.

  • Later that morning, I rechecked the status and it had changed. Not to "Delivered" but to "Incorrect address." I was confused because I'd had many packages delivered from Amazon to that address.

  • I trusted USPS so I decided to play the waiting game. May 19 was a Friday so I would probably receive the package on Monday or Tuesday.

  • By Tuesday, May 24, I hadn't received anything and the package's status, which now read "Arrival Scan," told me nothing.

  • The same day I went to the local Post Office to get to the bottom of things. A supervisor took my name and address and told me I would likely receive the package in the next day or two.

  • Two days later I found myself back at the Post Office talking to a different supervisor. He took my number and told me he'd call me later with info on my package. He never called.

  • Tuesday, May 31, I called the Post Office and talked to yet another supervisor. She told me the same thing, that she'd look into it and call me back.

  • Thursday, June 2, I called again. I talked to the second supervisor. He remembered me. In a roundabout way, he told me that USPS had no idea where my package was. A package with a tracking number. That they were supposed to be tracking.

  • Having done more than my part to find my package with the help of USPS, I decided to call Amazon for a replacement.

  • Friday, June 3, 1:59pm, within less than 24 hours of my call to Amazon, the replacement package was successfully delivered via UPS. At no extra cost to me.

This experience helped me understand why Ron feels the way he does about government. There are some things the government should leave to the private sector, and delivering our mail might be one of them.

Note #1: A man-crush only means that the object of the crush is worthy of emulation. Or that you want to do something manly with him, like go camping or have a barbecue (it really behooves you to click that link).

Note #2: I don't have many "real" celebrity crushes, i.e., a crush on a female celebrity, but I've got a pretty big one for Aubrey Plaza, also on Parks & Rec.

Note #3: Over the years there have been talks of a government bailout for the USPS. Maybe it's time for privatization instead, like a buyout from UPS and/or FedEx.


  1. I actually have had pretty good luck with USPS... Believe it or not. Much better than I've had with UPS or DHL. Of course, they do have the advantage of being subsidized, but I've always had my packages delivered at or near the beginning of the delivery estimate range.

    Of course, that doesn't mean they don't do crap like this every once in awhile.

  2. I've had pretty good luck with USPS as well. It's just that the fact that they had no idea where my package went that bugged me. And they never called me back. I feel like those things would be less prone to happen with a competitive corporation versus a government agency. With Amazon -- a highly competitive corporation -- they kept me on the phone till the problem was solved.

  3. Myke, have you ever read The Trial by Franz Kafka?

    My personal government agency story involved the unemployment benefits office, and instead of a package it was money. :(

    Also, I share your affinity for Aubrey Plaza and I don't even understand why.

  4. Trev, I know, there is just something about her. She's not the prettiest girl out there, she just has this demeanor and style that's so attractive.

    And yeah, we read The Trial for our short-lived book club, remember? So the unemployment office gave you a Kafka-esque run-around? I hope your fate differs from that of Joseph K...