Flag on You, UPS!

Good morning! Our friend Melissa will say this is a “bad” post, and she’ll be right, but I had to get up this morning and write. Not that I have anything to say, necessarily, but it’s been a while since I answered the bell at 4:30AM on a Friday. I just needed to get up and write something. So, pardon the dust.

We drafted baseball teams way back on February 8. Our first baseball practice was February 9. Were were still playing basketball at the time, as you do during basketball season. Last weekend, our all-star team ended the baseball season as runner-up in the tournament. A good way to end for a good group of boys, but it’s been an exhausting four months. I lost count of all the times I thought “WHAT DO YOU MEAN, BLIND MAN?” Mr. Ford would have a field day with some of these guys.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, my son, Jack, and my father-in-law, were fortunate enough to make a trip to Augusta for The Masters. For those of you reading in New York and Chicago and Des Moines, you don’t just buy tickets to The Masters. For the general public, there is a lottery system that begins almost immediately after the green jacket is placed on the winner. You enter your name and email address online and, about two months later, most of the people who entered the lottery get an email saying that their application was not selected to purchase tickets for next year’s tournament. On a related note, I received my email this week saying that my application was not selected for the 2018 tournament.

When your name isn’t selected in the lottery, the next way to get through the gates at Augusta National is to know a guy, and it so happens that my roommate from college knows a guy who was able to get his hands on two passes for the Monday practice round. It was the Monday after Spring Break. I had been off of work for a week already and, being American, five days in a row is the most time that you take away from work. I yielded my ticket to my father-in-law and he took my son.

The merchandise tent at Augusta is like nothing you’ve ever seen. I read somewhere what the merchandise revenue for the week is, but I’ve forgotten and I’m too lazy to Google it this morning. It’s in the millions and millions of dollars. There are stores at a mall near you that are open 12 hours a day, 363 days a year that don’t have the sales of the merchandise tent at Augusta – and it’s open one week a year. Once it’s closed, it’s closed until next year. Masters merchandise rivals Disney World in the amount of hysteria that it creates.

Jack and Steve, my father-in-law, visited the merchandise tent during a weather delay, “the last two people that they let in the shop”, Jack proudly told me later. They walked out with, among other things, two, yellow, 2017 Masters pin flags.

Fast forward a few weeks and I thought that it might be fun to have the flags autographed by one of the players. I call my friend who knows a guy and asked if he could have the flags signed by a player. He, of course, said sure, so I started packaging the flags to ship to him.

I placed the flags inside a shipping box along with a pre-labeled shipping envelope so that my friend could return the flags to me. Then we entrusted the whole package to the guys in brown to deliver to my friend.

We shipped the package on Wednesday. It was to be delivered to my friend in Jacksonville on Friday. I called him Saturday to see if it arrived. “No,” he said, through sips of his soup. I thought that two-day delivery for standard shipping rates was a little unrealistic, so I wasn’t concerned. I looked up the transit number online and saw that the package was in Jacksonville, so I just assumed that the package didn’t make it out for delivery on Friday and that it would be delivered Monday.

Monday, when I got home from work, there was a package on my front porch. It was the shipping envelope that I had placed inside the box along with the flags for my friend to use to return the flags to me.

It was empty and unsealed. That’s funny to me. How many people at UPS touched an empty, unsealed envelope in its return to me? Did no one question that? Just scan it and go on with your day, I guess.

So, now I’m worried. Where are the flags that you can only purchase one week a year IF you can get in to the gates of the place that sells them?

I called UPS. “Yes. It looks like there’s a problem, but the package was insured.”

Insurance is one of those things that you buy to help you sleep better at night, but you don’t really want to ever have to use it. Would you rather have your house, or would you rather deal with your insurance company trying to collect on your homeowners policy after your house burns? That the package was insured didn’t matter to me, and I was a little offended that UPS was already taking that angle. I wanted the flags that you can only buy during one week of April. If you can get in the gates of Augusta National.

I get transferred from customer service to the damaged package department. The guy in the damaged package department tells me that we are not dealing with a damaged package but, in fact, a lost package, so he sends me to someone in the lost package department. I picture this guy sitting in a small office in the middle of the UPS facility in Jacksonville, feet on his desk, eating a chicken salad sandwich and doing little else. “The good news is that the package was insured!”

No, no, no, that, uhh, that’s that’s not good news.

He tells me that my main contact will be the manager at the UPS store from which we originated the shipment. “The guy a mile from my house will be my contact for an investigation in to a lost package in Jacksonville, Florida?” I must have stumped him because he didn’t really have a good answer for that.

So, I call the manager at the store in town. “Realistically, they’re not looking for your package” he didn’t say, but that’s what I heard when he reminded me that the package was insured.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks – it takes 7-10 business days to the guy in the lost package department to finish his sandwich and declare your package officially lost, I guess, and the store manager cuts us a check for the shipping cost of both the original box and the cost to ship an empty, unsealed envelope back to us. He also included the cost of the flags based on E-bay auctions. So, we’ll try to replace the lost flags with some from E-Bay. With any luck, I may end up with the same flags that I shipped originally.

That’s all. Thanks for listening. Have a good day!