October 4, 2021
The Field is open for three hours on Saturdays. It’s typically a very simple shift give or take Christmastime when the three hours becomes “the cars are merging into our parking lot like an on ramp to an interstate” and lasts a bit longer. Part of what make it easy is that only two companies pick up so almost everything can wait until Monday which relieves some of the pressure.
I had a nice pace going this past weekend. It was busy but manageable. People were friendly. I had to help with exactly zero Amazon returns. All good. The only down of the morning was that I wore a long sleeve shirt thinking that when I looked at the 62-degree forecast in October, it would not turn into “80-degree steamy and gross.” My bad.
One of the companies that picks up is Fed Ex Express. They do a sweep about halfway through the shift for anything deemed super important that may need to be somewhere on Monday. I’d say we have a package that fits this description on less than 10% of all Saturdays.
This day, though, a man had come in shortly after we opened and had paperwork that had to be about 60 miles away on Monday. It was for a medical license renewal for his spouse. “She’s been running ragged,” he said, “so now it is an emergency.”
Lest any of you judge licensed professionals for waiting until the last second for important things, please don’t. It happens. I imagine it is happening at a higher rate during a pandemic. It may or may not have happened to me for give or take ten years. So shush.
“No problem,” I said. “We can do a Fed Ex Express Priority Overnight and have it there by 10:30 a.m. on Monday.” He looked relieved. I told him to thank his wife for her work. Away he went.
In case you doubted where this is going, Fed Ex Express failed to pick up on Saturday. So here is the timeline of the events thereafter:
Texted Private Ryan who was at a birthday party for his mother-in-law.
“Express hasn’t been here yet?”
“You might need to call.”
“Do we know who to call?”
“No. It’s someone different every week. Shit.”
“I’ll just run it to La Crosse. There’s a Fed Ex Office there. The last pickup is at 1:30 according to their automated system.”
This triggered a Private Ryan phone call around 11:59. He said he would call the local place with a drop box that maybe I could apparate to instead of driving 30 miles. I said I’d be in my car.
He called back and said the dropbox had no pickup on Saturdays. I said, “Well, it’s go to La Crosse now or drive to Rochester on Monday morning.” I was only thankful to be in a car with the AC set to “refrigerator” for my drive.
We began bitching to each other that Express would simply not pick up and what a headache this was. While we were complaining, I was driving down a primary road that is down to one lane due to construction. (They’re putting in roundabouts or, as the locals here seem to think, “liberal attempts to kill conservatives with scary circles.”) I pulled up behind a black Tahoe with his left blinker on. And he began to swerve in and out of every turn lane, never fully getting out of the lane he was in.
I was hot and hangry and on the phone with my boss when I yelled, “What the fuck are you doing you stupid motherfucker?!?” He giggled a bit and I apologized for my temporary road rage and laying on my horn. He said he was going to call the Express place to give them an earful and he’d call me back. I finally escaped the Tahoe (he was heading for Perkins) and he had the audacity to glare at me as I passed.
I temporarily understood people who go insane on a highway and proceeded on my way. I cruised along – plenty of abnormal traffic – and Private Ryan called back.
“Oh I am HOT! I called and got this kid on the phone and asked to speak to the manager. And the kid goes, “She’s busy and can’t talk.” And I explained who I was and that I needed to speak with her immediately. And again, he said, “She doesn’t want to talk to you.” So I explained that we have a scheduled pickup on Saturdays and no one came and I’m going to need my money back for the pickup and the package that my employee is now driving 30 miles to make up for it. The kid puts me on hold and then comes back and goes, “Yeah. I talked to the driver. He says he forgot and he’s sorry.” CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!? I told him we were going to cancel Express and just ship everything UPS on Saturdays and the kid was like, “Whatever.” I am SO mad. I’m standing out on the porch just yelling and everyone is inside like, ‘What the hell?’ But COME ON!”
I began yelling back my disbelief that the only thing we got was a “He’s sorry” without any offer to correct the error. “God why is there so much traffic?!?” I said as I got to my exit.
“Oh god,” Private Ryan said. “It’s Oktoberfest.”
Indeed, La Crosse is fairly well-known for their Oktoberfest celebration. I’m pretty sure it was canceled last year and apparently, everyone came this year to make up for it. The Fed Ex Office is in a little strip mall area, right next door to the drive thru Starbucks. At 12:30 p.m. on a Saturday during a drunken fest, a whole lot of people need coffee. The line was backed up to the highway and the parking lot looked full.
“Jesus,” I said. “It’s just packed. Man, so help me if I get in there and they tell me that their driver picked up early today or something…” We continued chatting.
I finally get into the parking lot and see one parking spot open next to (no joke) a black Tahoe. I pull around the behemoth and there are a few men basically tailgating in the open spot. (It’s Wisconsin. They tailgate for church.)
I began inching my car into the spot, a sign that any sober person would read as a car wanting to park there. These individuals, however, were certainly not sober. Which means the next sentence Private Ryan heard me say, with no context whatsoever, was, “I swear I will fucking run you over.” He giggled again and I just kept the car rolling and they finally moved.
We hung up so he could calmly return to his family gathering and I could drop the envelope off. I entered the office and said, “They don’t pick up until 1:30, correct?”
The nice but a little vacant employee said, “Oh yes.”
“Good. I work in a shipping store and they forgot to pick up today and this needs to go out. I was so afraid they had picked up early or something.”
“Oh no,” they responded. “They only pick up early if there’s a blizzard.”
I thought of my sweaty, hot morning and said, “Well, there’s certainly no blizzard today.”
“Oh no,” they said almost seriously. “It’s too hot for a blizzard.”
I did finally laugh. “Well thank you.”
“No problem,” they responded because really, they’d done nothing. “We’re always here for you!”
“That is decidedly untrue today but thank you,” I said and proceeded back to my car.
I headed across the street to get gas and buy some good beer I can only get in Wisconsin, which was sort of a reward I had set up for myself. Every pump was taken, of course, and I ended up having to back into a spot. In the time I sat there and decompressed, I saw THREE fender benders occur on neighboring highways/streets.
“My god, I have to get out of here,” I said to myself, abandoned my beer reward in favor of not having to interact with any other humans, and eventually fled the city as quickly as I could.
And with that, my easy Saturday workday finally ended.
When Sergeant told me she said, “I swear I will fucking run you over” without context, I laughed so hard I almost choked. Her customer service skills really are simultaneously the best and the worst. It’s kind of amazing.