Wednesday, March 1, 2006

What the Hell?

I had a bad day yesterday. I was really tired, I hadn't slept at all well, my body ached, and I simply didn't feel like being up and dressed. I had a hell of a time focusing, and I had a lot of work to do... a bad combination. But what really got me was the Great UPS Mystery: it wasn't really a big deal, but it was so bizarre that I couldn't (can't, obviously) stop thinking about it.

See, there's this sales rep in Florida. I am already familiar with him because I screwed up his business-card order a couple of weeks ago. But he calls me up Thursday morning and wants some kind of literature to put in the gift-bags that are being given to participants in some charity golf tournament. So after a certain amount of discussion, we decide that the best thing to do is overnight him seven packages of trifold brochures for our new series of mutual funds. Simple, yes?

Ordinarily I would order them from the Florida warehouse, which makes my life a lot easier, but since he needed them by Tuesday at the very latest, and I can't control how quickly things move out of the Florida warehouse (since I'm not there to do it myself), I agreed to UPS them from my supply to make sure he got them in time.

So yesterday morning he calls me up again and leaves a message asking what happened to the brochures, he never got them. This worried me a bit -- more than a bit, really -- so I logged on to UPS tracking and got all the information pertaining to the package (which, according to them, had duly arrived Friday morning as scheduled) and emailed it to him. He calls me back and tells me yes, he got that package, but there was nothing in it, just two pieces of blank pasteboard.

What the fuck? Now, I remember putting the two pieces of board in the package to reinforce it, because seven shrink-wrapped packs of trifold brochures in a paper envelope made a very wiggly package with too many corners. Was it possible that I could have taken the brochures out to put the cardboard in, then forgotten to put the brochures back? Possible, yes; but if I'd done that, there would be a stack of shrink-wrapped brochures standing around either in my cubicle or near the printer where I ran off the UPS label, and no such stack existed. And even at my most befuddled and confused, I would notice that I was carrying a two-ounce package of pasteboard instead of a one-pound package of brochures when I hauled it to the mail-room across the building.

Could the brochures have fallen out of the envelope somewhere in transit? Possibly, but the rep claims that the envelope was sealed when he got it. Could someone have carefully peeled open the envelope and stolen the brochures, then resealed the envelope and sent it on its way? I seriously doubt that, because the brochures have no value whatever, they aren't even particularly attractive (unless you are particularly fond of the colors gold, burgundy, and blue, or have a thing for marching-band trumpeters).

So somewhere between San Leandro California and West Palm Beach Florida, a hundred and seventy-five glossy trifold brochures shrink-wrapped in packs of twenty-five disappeared into thin air. I'm sure the rep thinks that I fucked up somehow, which following on the fuck-up of his business cards no doubt leads him to believe that I am an incompetent moron, and that bugs the hell out of me. But I can't control what people think of me, so I tried not to let that bother me (though it does indeed bother me, since I require the love and admiration of all who cross my path in order to continue living). It's the mystery of What Happened to the Brochures that really had my brain spinning around. I spent maybe an hour yesterday just staring off into space, trying to figure it out.

I nevertheless managed to get all my work done, though I skipped both my coffee breaks and only took half of my lunch in order to do it all. And when the day was over, I felt a certain degree of accomplishment, that I had wrestled the mountain of labor down into a molehill of tasks despite being so muddy-headed and achey. So when I finally got off work, I decided I deserved a reward. A retail reward. Now, I decided, was the time to get a new pair of shoes.

So off I went to Kohl's, which is my new favorite department store. Their clothes are of good quality and excellent style, and the store is laid out nicely... but most importantly, when they say "clearance sale," they really mean it. I've come out of that place with bargains that make my greedy little heart sing with joy.

And I found the exact shoes I've wanted for a long time, tan suede oxfords, so comfortable you wouldn't believe and marked down to $39. And then, while I was scouting around the shoe-department, I found a pair of medium-brown loafers, also exceptionally comfortable though encumbered with the fripperies of the "kiltie moc," which I don't much like... but they were marked down to $15, and I simply haven't got the discipline to leave a pair of Nunn Bush leather comfort-sole loafers marked down to $15 on the shelves. I can cut the damned tassels off for that kind of price.

Pleased with these savings, I wandered through the clearance racks in the menswear department, and found more incredible bargains... two shirts marked down to $5, a pair of pants marked down to $12, and a sweater-vest for $3.50. And then, when I was checking out, it turned out that the Nunn Bush kiltie-moc loafers were another half-off the marked price, which made them $7.50!!! For the amount of money I budgeted for one pair of light-brown shoes, I came away with two pairs of shoes, two shirts, a pair of pants, and a sweater-vest.

It made the whole day suddenly seem worthwhile. I'm sure some day I'm going to find out something evil about Kohl's and how they can deliver such excellent bargains, but for the time being I intend to revel in my good fortune.

So anyway, that's me today. How are you?

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