January 2010


I thought – hey, I have a FULL day with NOTHING to do – I can finish at least one of the half finished posts I have up here in my drafts folder.

OH WAIT.

Nope.

The berry started blowing up at 2:30 and I am now reviewing documents. And it is, of course, AWESOME.

Although I should say that I am reviewing said documents on my own computer while sitting on my couch while wearing my favoritest sweatpants, so it could be much less fun.

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Subtitled, Why yes, UPS, you ARE welcome for the free and totally unsolicited advertising.

This Christmas, I ended up with four presents that couldn’t be delivered in person for one reason or another, but namely geographic issues. One, for bestie Jill in DC, was small enough that it could be sent first class mail, and, as I figured at the time, how badly could the USPS screw up first class mail to DC? Especially since I was sending it over three weeks before the holiday. Another, to Godson Z, was going to Philly, so even though the package was a bit bigger, I assumed that, again since I was sending it WAY in advance, the post office could manage to get it the two hours to Philly in a timely fashion.

There was no way, however, that I was entrusting the other two packages to the USPS. One, to other bestie Rachel, was going to the great state of Texas and the other, to my favorite girls, absolutely had to get to DC in a timely fashion since they were insanely lucky and got to celebrate the holidays on the beach in Florida (not that I’m jealous or anything!) and I wanted it to arrive before they left.* Rachel’s package also included her birthday present, so I was on a tighter time frame there as well.

I have been nursing a wee grudge against the USPS since Christmas 2007. Rachel was pregnant with Godson Z at the time (his birthday is Jan. 8 – happy birthday, Godson Z!) and, for a variety of reasons, she wasn’t having a baby shower. I had been out in Texas right before Thanksgiving and was going back for Godson Z’s birth (a story for another post, dear readers) and between finals and the holidays, there was no way I could get back out there to throw her a shower. So I did the next best thing: I made her a baby shower box:

and I bought a ton of presents (baby presents, like onesies and pacifiers and such, are relatively cheap, so you can buy lots!) and the Madre bought a ton of presents (because she is awesome like that) and I coerced the boyfriend into contributing a few presents and even Jill and Liz, who had only met Rachel once when Rachel kind of unexpectedly joined our annual Labor Day on the lake in 2006, each contributed a present and a card (because they too are awesome like that and knew it was important to me).

I put a ton of time into the box (SO much more fun than studying!) and wrapped everything individually and generally tried to make it as nice as I possibly could. Rachel’s birthday is right before Christmas, so I wanted the box to get there before her birthday and before Christmas so she could appreciate it and wouldn’t feel like she was being overshadowed in all the baby excitement. So, first of week of December, I took the box to my local post office (which, to be fair, was kind of a crappy post office – if you had to go there, you always wanted to make sure you had a book or something with you because you could be in line forever) and paid something ridiculous like $30 for priority mail to guarantee that the box would get there in two to three days. I repeatedly asked the person at the post office when the box would get there and told him how important it was to me that the present get there in a reasonable amount of time and the man repeatedly told me “two to three days. two to three days.” OR SO I THOUGHT. BECAUSE THEY LIE.

I went home and waited for a call from Rachel. And waited. And waited. I didn’t want to say anything to Rachel because I wanted it to be a surprise, so when there was no word two weeks later after Christmas, I called the post office. This is when I first learned that Track and Confirm is crap and that, therefore, the man on the phone couldn’t tell me where my package was or when it might conceivably make its way to Texas. It was also when I was informed that the whole “two to three” days things is not a guarantee, but is, instead, an estimate. The man on the phone also told me that I couldn’t reasonably expect for my package to get from DC to Texas in two to three days because, hello? it was the Christmas season and of course everything takes longer at Christmas.

I was livid.

I mean, I get the whole Christmas thing, I do. BUT THEN DON’T OFFER A SERVICE THAT PURPORTS TO SEND THINGS IN TWO TO THREE DAYS. And, at the very least, have your employees tell the customers the truth when they ask. The package eventually showed up in Texas a few days after Christmas and Rachel loved it and was very happy, but at that point, I could have totally saved myself roughly $20 dollars and sent the thing media mail with the same result.

Of course, because of the whole “not a guarantee” thing, the post office refused to refund my money. Not that I didn’t try.

I first discovered the joys of and headache-free-ness of using UPS (I don’t ever consider FedEx when sending things because I know from working pre-law school how ridiculously expensive FedEx is) when I needed to temporarily move roughly 100 pounds of clothes and books and purses and shoes (whether or not I NEEDED all of that
is, if you ask the boyfriend, open to debate, but I firmly contend it all was, in fact, necessary) to New York for my three month stint as a summer associate and I was flying an airline (ahem USAirways) that was charging BIG fees for checked bags. I investigated the post office, but they were pricey and I was a little skeptical anyway after the Christmas incident of 2007. I was pretty resigned to the fact I was going to have to pay the crazy airline fees, but then my mom suggested I at least check out UPS. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only could I send 50 pounds for only $30, (vs $25 for parcel post or $40 for priority mail), but my boxes would get there in only two days because UPS ground rocks.

I did comparison shop with USPS this Christmas just to check, but the UPS prices were roughly the same ($9.95 to send 3 pounds to Texas via USPS, $12.53 to send the same package via UPS) and I knew that UPS would actually get my package there when they said (and actually, it got there a day early-it took three days instead of four).

Also, with UPS tracking is free and by tracking, they actually mean TRACKING and not “we’ll update if we feel like it because we’re actually under no obligation to do so” even though you paid $.75 for this crap service ahem, Track and Confirm, ahem. And I don’t know about you, but I LOVE tracking the things I send out to see where they are. I am weird like that.

Now, in the post office’s defense (and, fair warning, this will be the ONLY thing I say in the post office’s defense in this post), both USPS packages DID get there in an amount of time that the average person would find both expected and reasonable so that is where they TRICKED me and I got cocky. I even twittered about how impressed I was by the efficiency of the Grand Central post office.

After Christmas, I had to send some important documents back to New York that, for reasons I will probably discuss in a later post, had to get to New York before the first of the year. On Monday the 28th, I took said important documents to the Post Office, explained the situation to the clerk, and asked if I should spend the $18 to send the documents overnight. And he said that there was absolutely no reason to do that because I could spend only $4.95 for priority mail and it would absolutely get to New York in 2 days on Wednesday (are you seeing the BIG RED WARNING signs here? because I didn’t). Worst case, and he stressed that he didn’t think this would happen because New York is, you know, SO CLOSE, it would get there Thursday morning.

Would anyone like to take a guess when my super super super important documents got to New York? If you guessed Monday the 4th, you would, in fact, be correct (luckily, I had faxed copies of the documents and the person they were going to accepted those, so we still met the deadline). When I called the post office, the woman on the phone gave the stupid “not a guarantee” line again and then told me that even though all the signs at the post office say “two to three days,” the post office, in fact, considers five days to be “delivered on time.” She also gave me the stupid line about how I shouldn’t expect things to be on time during the holidays.

I’m so glad that your standards are so low, USPS. Really.

So you are all thinking “fool me once…” but it, in fact, gets worse. Last week, my mom had to send some documents to New York and, thinking she would learn from what happened with my documents, paid the $18 to send the documents overnight.

Would you like to guess when the documents were delivered? If you guessed “not overnight,” you would in fact be correct. If you guessed “two days late,” you would be even more correct.

USPS did give her back her money, but I don’t think she really gave them much choice.

I hate the post office.

*Of course, as it turns out, sending a present that early to a five year old and not letting her open it for two and a half weeks is the equivalent of Chinese water torture, so I may need to rethink this plan in the future.

As it turns out, people are still finding me by searching for things like “how to get along with the boyfriend’s sister” and “gifts from the boyfriend’s sister” and that made me realize that I never updated you as to the gift situation. The boyfriend and I exchanged our gifts before I left to spend the holidays at home and he seemed very happy with his umbrella and cufflinks and I was very happy with my lovely new coffeemaker.

Now, it was really no surprise that I love said coffeemaker because I a) picked it out, b) searched around for the best deal on it, c) found a 20% off bed, bath and beyond coupon, d) went with the boyfriend to buy it, and e) filled out all the rebate information so the boyfriend would save even more money on it. If I’m being bratty honest, I am a little disappointed by how the boyfriend handled the whole thing, but I guess it’s just a difference in approaches. I tried my best to keep the boyfriend’s presents a surprise, whereas he just let the coffeemaker sit in the middle of our living room unwrapped for 2 weeks until the day before we exchanged presents. I know I knew what it was, but I would have appreciated a little more effort on his part. Had it been me, I would have wrapped it immediately and probably also would have gotten him some nice coffee beans to use in the machine to have a little surprise. But whatever. It is exactly what I wanted and I am happy.

So anyway, I returned to New York bearing gifts for the boyfriend from my family (golf pants from my parents and golf balls from my brother. He ended up returning both of them and using the credit to buy a new golf bag, which he is very happy with. God forbid I ever return a present from his family, but he is in absolute love with this new bag, so that’s fine) and to find a stack of presents from his family. A nice tote from his parents which will be good for beach trips in the summer, a book (that I really wanted) from the boyfriend’s brother’s family, and really lovely pjs from his aunt and uncle.* But that’s not what you all wanted to know. The boyfriend’s sister got “me” (and I say “me” because she said the second ticket is for the boyfriend – not that I wouldn’t take him anyway, but still) two spaces in a wine-tasting class and a book about wine because she thought I would like to learn about wine (I know it sounds harmless and nice, but it is the WAY she says things – like I don’t know anything about wine and she thinks it is time for me to get an education) and because she knew that the boyfriend has been wanting to take a wine class. So we are taking a wine class. Woot.

I KNOW I sound like such a bitch, really I do. But you have not met this woman. And she did not single handedly ruin the 30th birthday party you threw for the boyfriend out of pure spite (that is the story I have been meaning to tell you-I’ll get there one of these days). Even though I was not entirely accurate about what the boyfriend’s sister would get me (i.e. something from work), I do know that she got a substantial discount on the class, so I’m not sure why she decided she needed to make such a fuss about how much she spent to the boyfriend. I am all for getting deals and saving money so I absolutely don’t begrudge her that, but I’m not sure why she would tell the boyfriend how much she spent, unless she wanted to make sure I spent enough on her. I know, I am horrible. Really, if I a) didn’t feel forced to buy the extra present by the boyfriend and/or b) thought she cared about picking something I would like, I really wouldn’t care. I really need to work on not letting her get to me and work on the whole being a bigger person/forgiveness thing.

The boyfriend has been pushing me to make resolutions. Maybe that should be one.

Or not.

*Also, TOTALLY RANDOM AND UNEXPECTED. We have never exchanged presents in the past, so I didn’t get them anything. Apparently the boyfriend’s aunt stumbled on them at Lord&Taylor and thought they would be great presents for all the females in the family and was very sweet and thought of me as well. And they might just be my favorite present from the boyfriend’s family because they are SUPER soft and comfy and I seriously considered wearing them all day today.

Also weird about the whole thing: the boyfriend’s aunt signed the tag “Aunt boyfriend’s aunt and Uncle boyfriend’s uncle,” which is cute except for the fact that, despite the fact that the boyfriend and I have been dating for five and a half years, the boyfriend’s parents still expect me to call them “Dr. and Mrs. boyfriend.” Apparently, should we get married, they would then expect me to call them “Mom and Dad,” which is all kinds of not happening because even though I like the boyfriend’s parents very much, I have my own Mom and Dad who I love and adore. But I digress, as always.

I said I wasn’t going to do this, but I find myself with some time to kill and fingers that are not entirely cramped up from spending the past few hours furiously blackberry-ing away. This whole getting stranded in Philly thing has kind of been the way my whole 2009 has been. Fine. Okay. I know some people for whom this was the most wonderful and bestest year ever, but I have to hope I have better years. Not that anything truly bad happened, but I would prefer more joy in my life if I am allowed to ask for such things. This year was not great, not horrible, just fine. I mean, back to the whole airport example, the getting stranded was annoying, but if it had to happen on a leg of the trip, this was the leg for it to happen on. And I am on the plane now, so WOOT. It evens out.

There were obviously some very good things in 2009 – namely, I graduated from law school and I passed the bar, two things which I am extremely proud of. I also started this blog, which is a big step for me since I’ve talked about doing so for awhile, but never actually got up the motivation to do. I started my job and started getting nice regular paychecks AND I generally like what I do, even if it is stressful sometimes. Work is a little frustrating because there’s not a ton of it in what I want to do to go around. A close friend of mine got lucky and got staffed to the hot project of the year and as a result, she is absolutely a rising star and going places. I’m very happy for her, of course, but it also makes me worry that I’m not a rising star and just worry about work generally, even though I know I shouldn’t. It’s not that my friend is not incredibly awesome, because she is and she totally deserves this, but this was also a case of her being in the exact right place at the right time and even though I know she is the only one of us out of fifty with these things happening, I still stress about not being that awesome and by extension my future at work. I know everyone in the legal industry is stressed about work and hours right now and part of that is the economy. I’m also lucky enough to be at a firm that is, while not doing great-none of them are-is doing okay and better by far than most. Still, though, I worry. And worrying about things I really can’t control was not a great way to close out the decade.

Moving on, I moved to New York this year, which is exciting, but I have some mixed feelings about and I also got to live at home for four months which was awesome and helped me realize that eventually I want to go home and live there because being ten hours from my family is not really doing it for me anymore. But for right now, it is fun to be in the city.

2009 was also the year where the boyfriend and I started to question whether or not this thing we’re doing is going to work long term. We’ve been in a holding pattern for awhile right now and, if things continue the way they are, I don’t know that this is still going to be what we both want. I guess that is for 2010 to determine. We shall see…

2009 was long, and parts of it were hard, and frankly, it made me tired. It was kind of like this: while at the airport, I noticed that the knee of a pair of my favorite jeans wore through. Annoying, but it can be fixed and, ultimately, it will be fine. Fine years are, of course, better than not-fine years and I will take them anytime, given the alternative. That said, I do hope for good in 2010 and good for the next decade. Now we just have to wait and see what happens next.