Sure, I got a phone call from the internet retailer with which I'd placed orders for
Anyway, this charming person was calling to alert me that one (JUST ONE!) of my gifts might not arrive before Christmas. The company would honor its promise to get all orders placed by some date or other, delivered by Christmas, and would therefore overnight a replacement, at no charge to me.
I smelled trouble. Yes, I did. I told her not to bother. This was not a gift that the little 8-year-old recipient had requested, it was a last-minute impulse, and here was fate telling me that she wouldn't like it anyway. Cancel it, or let her mother hide it for next year.
The caller insisted.
I begged her to refrain.
I asked about all the Other Stuff I'd ordered the same day (which by the end of that day had also included some pretty good grabs for me). The carriers had reported no problems, she told me, so I didn't need to worry about the Other Stuff.
Early on Christmas Eve (not a creature was stirring except Ms. Kinnaus - rest of verse to be saved for another occasion), I hobbled over to the computer and checked the shipping confirmations. Every single item ordered after the tiny trinket was on its way across the country to the soon-to-be puzzled 8-year-old. This is kind of like the time a just-engaged cousin (age 45) opened the wrong package - hand-knit knee warmers for dear arthritic Nana! - and held a grudge forever after. We won't go there.
As best I could tell, when the helpful V. Personal
A few phone calls later, I learned:
> if a package is going ordinary UPS, it may be possible to intercept and redirect it.
> however, only the actual shipper can "initiate a redirect," not the shipper's customer.
> if a package is passing through a Post Office, interception will not be possible.
> it is counter-productive to let terms like "search and destroy" pass one's lips.
I spoke with the 8-year-old's grandma, who was visiting them for Christmas. When she stopped laughing, she agreed that she would open all packages from the Retail Merchant of Despair, slip the little trinket into the kid's stocking, and email me a list of the rest of the loot. I in turn suggested that she keep anything she could use, pass on the camis, pajamas, clutches, etc., to other female relatives as they showed up on Christmas, and we'd call it An Experience. She just laughed some more. I warned her that even though there had been only a handful of orders, we had to allow for the possibility that there could be an infinite number of packages, given that many orders come from random stores. She continued laughing. A few delivery hours remained, thanks to the East/West time difference.
As it turned out, NOTHING HAD ARRIVED ANYWHERE IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS INCLUDING BOTH THE ORIGINAL AND THE REPLACEMENT TRINKETS THAT WERE THE CAUSE OF ALL THIS UPROAR.
Twelfth Night came. Twelfth Night went. Helpful Grandma went home. January dreared on. The RMOD's first two attempts at intercepting merch in the hands of UPS had no discernible effect, other than that UPS had been notified and some of the merch had stopped moving. Apparently the "redirect" part of the task had caused confusion. A few more calls got a few things moving again.
I'd ordered a few goofy things for myself - out of curiosity - free shipping, no final sale, and all that. The Goofy Things were untraceable. By early February it was clear that they would remain so. More phone calls. I negotiated refunds, promising faithfully that if the stuff ever showed up, I'd alert them.
And last week came a call from a Pacific Coast relative, to let me know that a hand-addressed envelope from the RMOD had arrived - personally addressed to me but at their address. Feeling I'd earned a gift card, I asked him to open and read the missive. No gift card.
It was a sweet little note from the first VP Dingbat, thanking me for letting her assist me with my Christmas shopping.