Field Reports

Field Report: Day 358

Sergeant K

At the end of last week, two things happened. (1) Private Ryan left again, this time to actually shed hunt instead of just talk about shed hunting. I continued to debate in my head which one was more boring. (2) Private First Class and I decided to clean out the Island of Misfit Packages.

As we are wont to do in The Field, there is no rhyme or reason to when we do tasks like that. We typically start worrying more about space before the huge auction takes place and suddenly the entire building is filled with fragile things, sitting in every nook in the hopes of not tripping over a $20,000 chandelier or an inexplicably expensive doll with eyes that seem to follow you from its perch in front of the fireplace.

Have we ever talked about the fireplace? I’m surprised you haven’t already heard about it from other people. Everyone asks if we put in the beautiful, almost grand fireplace. Yes, obviously, Private Ryan wanted to add that element to the building filled with cardboard and other assorted paper. After we tell them it was there when we got there, they ask what The Field was before us. Welp, folks, it was a car wash. And in between, it was an office building for people who were into the fracking business and that was when the fireplace got added.

It’s best to have a cozy environment while attempting to destroy the environment for monetary gain.

The Island of Misfit Packages are any number of things. They are packages that got returned to us from people who shipped them from our store and are never claimed by the customer who shipped them. Some are packages that get shipped to people who had mailboxes in The Field in, say, 2013 but who no longer do. Some are eerie and dripping a substance we’d rather not attempt to identify.

Could be jelly. Could be blood. Could be nuclear waste. Who knows.

The number one Misfit on the Island are drop-offs people bring to us that do not have a label. The number of packages set on the drop-off table with no label would astound you as it astounds us. What do people think we’re going to do with these? It’s like the customer I had who, upon me asking who her shipment was going to, looked at me and said, “I don’t know,” as though I was supposed to, what? Choose for her?

Yesterday, we had a prime example of one of these when this was dropped on the table.

It makes it better if you ask nicely. We’ll definitely just send it back to Amazon for you as long as you use the magic word.

Sometimes, as in this case, we’re able to track down the person who dropped it off as long as they used a box/mailer with their name on it and we have them in our system. And we’re not busy. If we’re busy, we don’t have time to play detective and resort to that age old adage, “This isn’t our responsibility. If you’re old enough to order online, you’re old enough to learn how to return online.”

A side note about drop-off packages: We do get a small pittance for each one we scan into the system. (This is only UPS and FedEx. We have to do USPS for free.) The numbers are in for last year and, based on the total we made, it adds up to about 45,000 packages. Forty-five thousand drop off packages. I’d guess 60% of these are Amazon. Don’t ask where my belief that we are a country of collective consumption whores came from.

Back to the Island of Misfit Packages — the majority of which are Amazon returns — just collect in our small back area, no identifying information available for us to do any sort of outreach program. We wait for people to claim them, typically giving them a year to do so. If someone has not claimed them after a year, we put them in a box and donate to Goodwill. I like to imagine someone finding the exact item they ordered once upon a time and saying, “Oh this is so much cheaper!” and buying it again.

I have a small group of friends who discuss our jobs on chat every day, sometimes trying to outdo one another with the tasks we are required to do in the name of income. Sometimes, we pretend to auction off the jobs to each other.

“Anybody want to come work on this ISPENF for CRB to make sure the QXS is ready for the OJWFY meeting?”

“I’ll do that if you want to come try to perfectly line up this video with this other video to within the hundredth of a second.”

“Well, one of you has to come here first to look up this <random financial law I’ve never heard of> to see if it applies to <some other collection of acronyms> or if we have to call <other collection of acronyms> today.”

I let them all play their best cards and I smile to myself and then I send a picture, auctioning off getting to ship and carry around things like this:

Go ahead. You google the rules on shipping semen. I’ll wait.

I typically win that game.

Colonel C

Yesterday, Dodger grabbed my hand and led me to the treat cupboard where he then sat down and waited for me to give him a bone. He also apparently is quite close to learning how to open the front door, meaning we have to keep it locked at all times. And yet, when we go to class, he spends the entire time staring a this red-haired poodle nearby, fascinated only by whatever that dog is doing and having no interest in showing off what is obviously his immense intellect to the rest of the class so I am, yet again, unable to be all #ProudParent with him. Damn red heads.

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