Field Reports

Field Report: The Idiot’s Guide To Shipping A Package

July 12, 2021

Sergeant K

You are probably aware by now that there isn’t much room in The Field for logic. Sometimes, though, we get flashes of others’ idea of logic and it is downright magical.

We also occasionally pick up a stalker or two, but that’s a totally different thing.

One phenomenon that Private Ryan and I are aware of is we have regular customers who become quite enamored with us. We’re not really sure why. We’re pretty nice and everything, but (as I remind us multiple times a day) we’re not exactly performing life-saving surgeries.

Case in point: The woman he had this morning. “Well, I ruined her day,” he told me as soon as I got in. “She came in and I said hello and she didn’t even respond. She just looked around, like she was searching for something. Turns out, she was looking for you.”

“Oh, god,” I said.

“She was beyond disappointed and asked when you would be in. So I told her you don’t really work mornings. To which she thought about it and then nodded, like she understood this thing that made perfect sense.

And then she said, “She’s from Iowa so of course she doesn’t like mornings.”

This seems counterintuitive to me since most people associate Iowa with farming and most people associate farming with “milking cows at 4 a.m.” (Or, in Kentucky, they call me Spud for an entire softball weekend because they confused Iowa with Idaho.) This geographic leap to conclusion is one of those life-long mysteries I’ll never be able to ask about…

…because I don’t want to encourage more fascination with me or my sleeping habits.

How To Use The Internet

Occasionally, a customer comes in who I genuinely believe is a plant by some company doing “secret shopper” testing of our customer service skills. I don’t know if this has ever happened while I was working.

The one who stands out is the woman who called four times asking me to measure the mailboxes and explain in great detail how renting one works. This eventually led to a rapid-fire “Would it fit ______” game. By the time we got to, “Would it fit a rotary telephone,” I assumed secret shopper was the ONLY possibility.

As Mondays would have it, the second possible experience appeared.

He walked in holding nothing in his hands, always a somewhat ominous “I’m about to ask you a million questions without knowing any of the things you need to give me a quote.”

“How do I sell something?” he began.

“How do you sell something?” I repeated.

“Yeah. How do I sell something?”

“Where are you trying to sell?” I asked, figuring there is a slight difference between a garage sale and Etsy.


“eBay?” I questioned.

“No. Just, like, online. How do I sell something?”

“What are you selling?” I inquired.

“Speakers. They’re worth $1000 and you can’t find them anywhere else. So how do I sell them and pay for shipping?” he finally replied with some detail.

I became hopeful that we could move this Abbott and Costello routine forward into actual shipping logistics. I believed he was, in a roundabout and dense manner, asking how much to charge for shipping on said speakers. But, as so often happens in life, my hope was misguided and much too high for the situation.

I began explaining how we figured shipping and asking for measurements. To which he responded, “But how do I get paid so I don’t get screwed?”

At this point, it crossed my consciousness that this individual does not know about PayPal or Venmo. Easy enough.

“A lot of people pay by PayPal or Venmo,” I offered.

“But do you have to have a bank account for those?” he countered.

‘Yes,’ I wanted to say, ‘and the mailboxes will not hold a rotary phone.’

Customer of the Day!

An older gentleman wearing an extremely worn John Deere hat came to the door. He was using a cane and wearing a white V-neck undershirt with obvious sweat stains and current dampness.

And inside his shirt, between the cotton and his skin, were two boxes.

The slow speed with which he approached the counter allowed full awful anticipation of the horror of what was coming. PFC and I froze in place, like the most moist version of Russian roulette was on its way.

My singular focus was how I would talk him into setting those boxes where I needed him to without me having to touch them. He arrived at the counter and reached into his shirt and lifted out each box one by one. He set the first one on the scale and then attempted to hand me the second one.

“Oh you can just set that right there,” I said, pointing to a place next to the scale. Still, he continued to hold it out so I repeated it and began to focus on looking busy even though I was only typing “don’t gag” over and over into our system. Eventually, he set it down and I began the transaction.

He told me his name and had the address written down where we were sending it. I deleted my mantra and entered the information.

This is the time period of the transaction where there is a bit of silence as I measure and weigh and input data to come up with the options. Sometimes, people fill the void with conversation; sometimes, they don’t.

This man decided to fill it. And he began the conversation thusly.

“We used to order a lot of pig semen.”

Do I need to transcribe for you the rest of that discussion? No, reader, I do not. You can imagine where it went. There are only a couple of avenues to take that begin with pig semen and I don’t want to take any of them having survived the experience once.

I wish I was still teaching social anxiety workshops. “Hey, listen. Any conversation you ever start in your whole life will be better than this. And as a general rule of thumb, just ask someone to help you carry something versus sweating all over it under your shirt.”

So yes, I prefer to work afternoons and yes, you need a bank account and no, I did not touch those boxes. Literally used two other boxes to move them. For every problem, there is a solution. And for every decision, there is someone’s version of logic.

Colonel C

Last weekend, I made us watch “Rogue One” which is basically the only Star Wars movie the Sergeant has ever enjoyed. I promptly fell asleep so she was the only one watching it. She compared this to when we first started dating and she was trying to impress me, pretending to be more mature, and agreed to watch a History Channel documentary on Himmler.

I fell asleep on the remote then and I’m not sure I’ve gotten to hold it since until last weekend when it happened again.

This is not the way to regain remote privileges. I was very upset with myself. Guess I’ll give it another shot in 17 years.

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