Federal Express?

Google.com is my God. When I want to know something, I go to my Google God, type in my request, and I’m instantly put in touch with lots of information about my question. I have done much research this way. If only Google and the Internet existed when I was a student. The downside of this is that shopping is way too convenient.

It was Tuesday evening when I decided to order a memory module for my girlfriend’s laptop, since her computer has only 32 MB of RAM. Never mind the fact that my first hard disk drive was only 20 MB. I won’t even tell you what that hard drive cost me, but I was the envy of my neighborhood. In those days no one in my neighborhood had a computer or knew what a hard drive was, so envy was directed at anyone with new technology. A hard drive meant spending all night behind a steering wheel and all new technology looked good if you didn’t understand it.

One of the impressive things about high-tech shopping is the fast delivery. I was in Tower Records the previous weekend and wanted to order a CD that was not in stock. I was told it would take four to six week. Yikes. I said no thanks, went home, and asked Google God for the CD. Two days later I was listening to the CD. Why does anyone go to Tower Records anymore?

Finding the correct memory module was no problem, and I ordered a 128 MB SDRAM module. I was in a hurry for it and selected Second-Day shipping for $2 off. Instead of $15 I paid only $13 and my order would arrive before 5 p.m. on Friday. Perfect. Isn’t technology wonderful?

The company selling the memory module emailed my order confirmation along with a Federal Express tracking number. Wednesday evening I went to the Federal Express web site and entered my tracking number. It told me that my memory module had been picked up in Edison, NJ Wednesday afternoon at 16:09 PM. Hmmm…. I only live an hour from Edison. I could have picked it up myself. Oh well. I should have it by Friday.

Later Wednesday night my curiosity got the best of me and I checked on the progress of my memory module. It had “Left FedEx Origin Location/EDISON NJ” at 20:45. I was impressed. It was already on its way south toward my house.

Thursday morning, before going to work, I put a sign on my front door so that the FedEx delivery person would leave it without my being home to sign for it. At work I checked the FedEx tracking for a third time and discovered that they had driven my memory module north to Newark instead of south to me. Okay, I figured they had a system that requires all packages to go to a facility where they are sorted for destination, and that this facility was in Newark. I started periodically checking the FedEx tracking site. Sure enough, the next tracking information showed my memory module had “Left FedEx Sort Facility/NEWARK NJ” at 04:57. This put it two hours away instead of one, but it still might arrive by the time I got home.

My next check on its progress revealed that it had been driven to Jamaica, NY and put on a plane. What the f…k? By early afternoon the tracking site revealed that my memory module was in Memphis, Tennessee. To be exact, it said, “Left FedEx Sort Facility/MEMPHIS TN” at 13:42. Now I was getting seriously concerned. They must be shipping my memory module to someone else or had mixed up the tracking numbers? The tracking information showed it was coming to me, but it was being shipped somewhere else.

Late Thursday afternoon I gathered up the courage to check tracking one more time, and immediately regretted it. The latest tracking information showed it had left the FedEx sort facility in Memphis a second time. This time it left there at 16:09. No mention of its return after departing there two hours and 27 minutes earlier. Neither did it say where it was going.

I looked up the phone number for FedEx customer service and called them. A pleasant sounding man answered the phone and said his name was Kevin. I explained the situation to Kevin and gave him the tracking number. “It’s in Memphis,” Kevin replied, as if I didn’t already know that.

But I live near Edison, NJ,” I explained. “Why have you shipped it a thousand miles away?

Memphis is our hub,” he replied with a matter-of-fact tone that one would use to explain the law of gravity. Evidently all things touched by FedEx gravitate to Memphis before determining where they are really suppose to go.

I replied, “But it went to a sort facility in Newark. If they really are a sort facility, they are doing a poor job by sending my package to Memphis.

My practical nature was starting to show through, but it was also telling me that logic was not part of this equation. Newark has an airport. If FedEx really felt the need to fly my package to the Midwest and back, wouldn’t it have been more convenient for them to do it from Newark rather than Jamaica? Besides, the traffic is horrendous between Newark and Jamaica during morning rush hour.

You should have it by tomorrow afternoon if the snow storm doesn’t close the Philadelphia airport. Right now things are slowing down.

"Is it snowing where you are?" I asked.

"No. It's snowing in Philadelphia. I'm in Arizona," Keven replied. At this point, I wouldn't have been surprised if he told me that Federal Express had been purchased by the French.

I wanted to tell Ken that if his company had used their brains in the first place and not sent my package a 1000 miles in the wrong direction, I would have had it well in advance of any snow storm. Who would have ever thought that getting something quickly from point A to point B, a 45 mile trip involving no city driving, would require a round trip air flight of 2000 miles and a visit to four major cities.

Some observant person once pointed out that a little knowledge can be dangerous. It certainly is in this case. Knowing a little about how Federal Express is delivering my package is dangerous for them, because I want to strangle them. I hope it doesn’t snow too much.