The Pryor Times

July 20, 2013

The reappearing box

Managing Editor
Kathy Parker

— When did UPS adopt the policy of just dropping packages by the mailbox?

My mail box is on a county road, near the entrance gate. My house is two gates away across the pasture.

How does UPS know someone – a stranger, a passerby - won’t just stop and pick up the box? No one has signed for it. No one knows when it is scheduled to be delivered - even if we were home.

Recently, a box containing clothes was left close enough to the fence for our curious cattle to drag it under. When I found it, it was the color of green grass, with holes in the box made by hooves. Luckily, every piece was wrapped in plastic and tissue paper and was not harmed - but what if the contents of the box had been breakable?

Last week, Mike arrived home from work on Spur ranch to find a UPS box beside the mailbox. It was addressed to someone named Vera four section lines away. Four miles. I am on road 330. The address on the box read road 334. The package weighed 26 pounds. It was covered with UPS stickers that screamed “fragile.”

I said not to worry, I would take care of it the next morning.

There was no UPS number for the center I know is in Vinita, so I called information. The operator told me there are no local numbers for UPS. Anyone wishing to speak to UPS must call an 800 number.

OK. I called the 800 number. And I’m telling you, it is impossible to get to a person on that line.

After going through a series of menus and options, I understood that live people do not answer the phone. I tried dialing zero, but the automated system just kept sending me back to the other options.

The automated system told me more than once that I could track a package online. So I found the tracking code written on the package and the computer told me it had been delivered to Vera on road 334.

Our IT person at the Times, Connie, spent years working in shipping, so I asked for her help.

“Just bring it with you and we’ll get rid of it,” she said.

And she did. The UPS man who came to the Times office took it with him.

The office is in Pryor. My house is on the Craig/Mayes County line.

I was confident that he box was on its way to its rightful destination.

The next afternoon, Mike was on the telephone.

“That box is here again,” he said.

Still addressed to Vera on 334 Road.

“I bet I could put this address in my GPS on my phone and find her,” Mike said.

The GPS took him to that address, but no Vera was in residence.

Mike met the fellow who did live there, though, and they had a good visit. He lost his wife some time ago and I think he enjoyed having company.

The man told Mike there is a UPS dropoff at the Ketchum Post Office.

“By the time I got there, it was closed,” Mike said. “But when I got back to the 82 intersection, I saw a UPS sticker on that television place.”

Turns out the sticker was so UPS would know where to drop packages. “But they said there’s a dropoff at Ace Hardware (in Langley). So I went there and the UPS guy was there,” Mike said.

It seems the UPS drivers don’t actually read the address on the box. They scan the bar code with his handheld whatever-it-is to see where to deliver the package.

The UPS guy in Langley scanned the box while Mike was there and the address did say 330 Road - but the numbers did not match mine. It seems my house was the closest match for the numbers, so that’s where the package was left. Twice.

So I’m thinking, just rounding up to the nearest number isn’t a good system.

And I’m thinking, there is an address sticker right beside this scan sticker and if a person read it, he would see it’s not a match.

It sounds so simple.

But I guess I am not really up-to-date on computerized shipping.

Anyway, the package was carted away from the Langley dropoff by a real person.

I have no way to know if Miss Vera received her package.

But the third day, Mike called to say “that box is not here.”

Thank goodness.