Field Reports

Field Report: It’s Coming

Sergeant K

As I prepared to begin this, a woman called and interrupted me to begin yelling that I had left her Chewy box in the “goddamned middle of my front yard.” I calmly began to explain that we are not the people who actually deliver boxes to which she actually said, “Sure. Goddamned millennials don’t want to take responsibility for anything.”

Been awhile since I got to practice my “say nothing and let stupid hang in the air” strategy. After she spoke next, I gave her Fed Ex’s 1-800 number and told her to have a pleasant day. Not wishing her a “pleasant goddamned day” took a lot of restraint.

The list of things I cannot identify grows every day. Even the things I know about in a general sense are a complete mystery when faced with them. The biggest category for which this is true is guns. In the shipping world, guns are a weird category unto themselves. The rules on them change constantly, it seems, and so much of it has to do with the makeup of the gun itself.

At one point, I asked a customer if a gun had “an active ingredient” in it, as though it was some medication or food. They looked at me. I then literally said, “Sorry. Guns are the one thing about which I am perfectly fine being ignorant.”

Therefore, when a bunch of shotgun (I think) reloaders came in to be packed, I left them on the table for Private Ryan to take care of.

The first thing he did when he arrived at work Monday morning was puncture his thumb to the bone with the machine’s packer-press-thingamabob. I want to pass out just hearing that story and have yet to be desensitized even though he has told it to every customer we’ve had since then.

On the next reloader, this happened.

Yes, that would be the “active ingredient” I was asking about.

All of my knowledge about guns comes from movies and I am happy to report that all of my knowledge about gunpowder comes from the opening scene on the ship in National Treasure. I am also happy to report that I still had that perverse adolescent desire to do the one thing I knew we shouldn’t do and light a match. We resisted.

Immediately after the gunpowder spread, Private Ryan shouted, “GOD I HATE GUNS!” and really, who can blame him?

Private Ryan then told me that his last tetanus shot was in third grade. The idea that the guy who has had double digit concussions over the span of his life and five puncture wounds that I can remember in the three years I have worked there hasn’t had a tetanus shot in over 25 years blows my mind. That dude should get one annually, just to make sure he’s covered.

A customer asked me to send their receipt to their email address. I innocently asked what their email was. It included the words “sewer” and “weasel” and when I thought maybe I’d misheard, I asked them to spell it for me.

“I can never remember,” they said. “I always have to look it up myself.”

A couple of months ago, a man came in and gruffly demanded that we print something off for him. Had he sent us the item to be printed? No. Was he quite pissed off that we had nothing to print? Yes. Did he calmly and rationally send us the email?

No, my friends, he did not. Instead, he launched into an absolute diatribe against people not hiring him because they don’t like him instead of paying attention to the job he does. This was bullshit, you see. He doesn’t need to be likeable to do good work.

I completely agree with this. However, if humans were rational economists, then everything would be completely different. We are not. We are behavioral creatures. If you’ll turn your attention to the graph on page 47…

Eventually, someone from corporate emailed us the form he needed and we printed it. Success!

Last week, he returned.

“Print that contract form for me again,” he demanded. I remembered the gruffness and the speech, but I had no idea what we had printed or from whom we received it. I thought I asked who he was. Apparently, I called him an asshole who didn’t deserve to live.

He did that “villain laugh” they do in movies right before they go berserk and kill everyone in sight. “Oh, I know you have it in there. You printed it for me before.”

“I know we did, but we don’t save things for long because we get hundreds of emails every few days,” I explained.

“The printer will remember,” he retorted.

“The printer will what now?” I asked.

“When you print something, the printer remembers it so you can go back and retrieve it anytime you want to,” he explained in the way you might explain to a child that sunshine warms the earth.

Right underneath guns on the list of things I don’t know is “weird things technology is capable of.” Therefore, I was careful not to argue with him that this was impossible. It could absolutely be possible but I would have no idea how to access it, which is what I told him.

“Well that’s just stupid,” he said and immediately began calling, on speakerphone, corporate to “send it over again.” He still hadn’t told me who he was or anything that may have helped me do a search of the email in case we still had it. We skipped right to, “Yeah, Marjorie, these people claim to not be able to find the contract they clearly have so I need you to send it again.”

I eventually looked at the clipboard he had and stole the company name off it to search our email. The previous one did show up and I told him I thought I found it. The email’s subject was “New Customer Contract” so I said, “Hey, GrumpyFace, I think I found it.”

I showed it to him and he said, “That’s not a contract! Why would you think that was a contract?”

“It has “contract” in the subject line,” I stated, plainly, feeling about done with the whole thing.

“Well, it’s not a fucking contract,” he said. “Jesus, I have to do everything,” and then he continued on speakerphone.

About this time, Private Ryan returned and I told him that he was free to deal with that guy because I didn’t want us to lose our place in the Best Customer Service competition. Or go to jail.

Private Ryan went hunting in South Dakota twice in October which left us alone for a bit. Customers are so attached to him that they really have evolved into asking us the most insane things far beyond “where he is.” (On this note, in my defense, I told people he was going to South Dakota to hunt for “mules” which didn’t make sense to me because (a) are there wild mules? and (b) are they really that hard to hunt? Turns out it was mule deer which made more sense but I told a LOT of people it was mules. Proud moment.)

Anyway, one morning, PFC got asked how Private Ryan felt about the Packers.

“Are you asking me… how he feels about something?” she asked, ignoring completely that she knows nothing about football whatsoever and absolutely could NOT care less.

“Yeah,” the customer said. “Do you know?”

She didn’t make anything up and that is where our roads divide because I would have had a field day pretending to know. “Well, first off, he feels like they should change the colors of their uniform…”

My apologies for the delay. I am officially writing about fantasy hockey now so my time is really focused on learning the differences among 920 guys named Connor and learning to spell Evgeny Kuznetsov. But The Field will take precedence soon…

…because Christmas is coming.

Colonel C

She is writing about fantasy hockey. When they say “or worse” in the vows, I am about 98% sure they meant “supporting your wife’s writing ambitions by pretending to be interested in what the acronyms in fantasy hockey are.”

I moved my office downstairs because we’re getting new flooring in the entire top floor of our house. This lasted a week. I missed sunlight. I missed wandering around with my headset on spying on neighbors with binoculars. I missed getting coffee refills without feeling like I was on a Stairmaster.

I’ll move back down when I absolutely have to or when Sergeant and I develop irreconcilable differences after I explain that I do not care at all about Connor McDavid. Either is possible.

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