Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Raves and Rants...

It's a week before Christmas Eve. I'm excited by this fact. I, personally, love Christmas Eve more than any other day of the year. That's not to say I don't like Christmas Day but, as I've said, I love that anticipation of Christmas Eve, that waiting, that excitment that builds and grows and becomes the embodiment of Christmas. I always find Christmas Day to be just a wee bit anticlimactic, the presents open, the turkey cooked and...exhaustion hits.

No, I'm a Christmas Eve Monkeypants. I like the preparations that lead up to that day, the rush and activity of Christmas Eve as the last presents are wrapped, last minute stocking-stuffers are bought and the thrill of something hovers in the air.

For now, however, there's a week left. It's a week for me to continue with my cliched salute to the holidays, my Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD/Playlist blaring in my ears, my gingerbread waiting to be baked, my roster of Christmas DVD's on a stack, waiting to suit my mood. I admit: I know it's a lot of commercialism. Yet, if you combine the commercial side of Christmas with the side that actually understands why the season exists, you have a pretty nice balance. I, personally, can't say anything other than "I love Christmas!"

It puts me in a good mood, even when there's things conspiring to level my mood to that of unhappiness. It makes me focus on the positive and only dwell enough on the negative that it inspires one tirade and I'm done.

So, in all fairness, I think it's only fair that in addition to my rants, I give a rave or two before I rant again.

Thus, my first 'rave' goes out to United Airlines. I can't say you're perfect but, well, you've redeemed yourself slightly. If you're a regular reader, you'll know I've had issues with United in the past. I can't say I truly support the Economy vs. Economy Plus seating. I mean, on other airlines, it is perfectly normal NOT to fly with your knees up by your ears when you book a coach flight. On United, unless you pay the the $49 for 'extra room', that's how you're going to fly.

Nevertheless, when I flew to L.A. this weekend, United did redeem themselves by simply getting me to where I needed to be without problems. I confess, on the way home from L.A. to Dayton, I was cynical. I had 40 mins to connect from one flight to another AND I'd checked luggage. Given my myriad of past experiences, this could have been a problem. Normally, I'd be landing, a sense of panic in my throat and tummy and I'd be running as soon as I got off a plane to find out exactly how far I had to peg it in order to board my flight. Not this time, however. For once, United actually got me to my connection early.

I know, I know. It's a shock. I got to the Chicago airport early and was taken aback by the fact that I only had to go one terminal over and I had an extra 20 minutes to do so. Given that I was travelling on a $250 voucher, it was a bit of a shock to discover there were no complications: My plane had landed early and I was going to make my connection on time.

Thus, I have to salute United Airlines. I think you could improve the legroom thing a bit but I do respect your improved customer service. Given that my prior United experiences have ranked on a scale from pure suckiness to tolerable, having a good experience is something to write home about. Thus, I salute you. Keep it up.

I also have to salute Jungle Jim's International Market. A week or so ago, I blogged about not being able to find quails' eggs at the store. In fact, having scoured Whole Foods, Jungle Jims, Trader Joe's AND Kroger Fresh Fare and finding no quail's eggs at all, I was going to give up hope. Then, in response to my whining, someone from Jungle Jim's did respond. I was humbled and happy that someone actually read my blog and listened. I even went to Jungle Jim's last night and found the quails' eggs as suggested. Unfortunately, the ones suggested were in a can. As a snobbish foodie (and as someone who watches WAY too much Food Network) I was hoping for fresh eggs, the type I used to see all the time when I lived in California. I wish I'd known then what I know now because those quails' eggs would have been mine. Nevertheless, I completely respect the fact that someone actually bothered to read this blog AND offer suggestions. I will continue to frequent Jungle Jim's- partly because it's the only place in the area that caters to my obsessive needs but, also, because it's awesome.

Now onto the rants. I hear that when life hands you lemons, you're supposed to make lemonade. Me, I tend to yell at the lemons for a while until they start to mean nothing. Then I drink my lemonade quietly.

It's time for me to yell at the lemons.

In this case, the lemons are UPS. You know them. United Postal Service. "Brown." The friendly representatives who are supposed to pay $8 just to wear the offical socks of their company.

Yes, I know for a fact that their socks cost $8. When I worked at USC, the UPS guy was my buddy and once I knew he'd answer, I asked him about his socks. For the record, yes, they're supposed to wear the offical UPS brown socks with a logo. They cost $8. My UPS driver could not afford this type of expense for socks and, thus, he went elsewhere, bought brown socks and pushed them down so they were 'slouching'. This not only covered up the fact that they weren't UPS socks but, also, saved him money. He was a bit of an odd UPS man, I'll admit that. He was the type who said "You should check that out sometime," when he talked of an event in the area. He never asked me out. He never mentioned we should date. He simply said vague things like "You should check that out. I'll be there!" He also said it to my good friend so I can't even pretend that he liked me in particular. He was odd.

Nevertheless, even though he worked for UPS, I tried to distance him from the company for which he worked. Yet...he was a loyalist. He loved UPS.

Now me? I want to but, really, I despise them. Hence...we enter the Rant portion of this blog.

Once upon a time, Captain Monkeypants had a best friend (Saz) whom she'd known for many years. Captain Monkeypants had known her friend since high school, a time in which they both joined Drama Club, had bad experiences and had embraced their college years as a time in which things started to matter.

Even with the obstacles of different lives, Captain Monkeypants and Saz remained friends. They eventually travelled together and found that bi-annually trips to New York and Los Angeles were fun. Then Captain Monkeypants moved to L.A. and Saz found that trips to L.A. were even easier becasue she had a futon on which to sleep.

Captain Monkeypants and Saz would find things to do in L.A . that were fun. Eventually, they discovered Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez valley. They went wine tasting. They had fun. They found a nifty winery called "Sanford." It was a small, family owned place in which the wine pourers were knowledgable and friendly and, also, the wine tasted wonderful. The favourite selection of Saz and Captain Monkeypants was vin Gris. It was a variation on Pinot Noir that was pleasant, aromatic and wonderful.

Then a movie came out called "Sideways." Sanford was featured in the film. They mentioned Vin Gris. It became impossible to buy Vin Gris. For several years, it was difficult for someone to order Vin Gris because it was always sold out.

Then came 2009. Captain Monkeypants realized Saz's birthday was approaching and, remembering how much Saz had loved Sanford Vin Gris, she daringly checked the website.

Success! Finally, Sanford had the elusive wine in stock! Thus, it was that Captain Monkeypants ordered two bottles of the delicious libation to be delivered to Saz for her birthday.

And thus became the horrors of UPS.

In order to receive a shipment of wine, a human must be 21 years of age. Saz is over 21 but, unfortunately, missed the first delivery attempt.

Then, even though she left strict instructions on redirecting the package if a delivery was unsuccessful, Saz was thwarted in the second attempt to receive the package.

Thus, tonight, she decided to reign triumphant over UPS. She took the afternoon off work to ensure she would be home when they tried to deliver. She made sure her front call box was hooked up to her apartment, in case UPS came by. She even left a note telling UPS where to buzz if they had a package for her.

The story does NOT have a happy ending.

For, you see, UPS apparently does not require identification to deliver a package. Thus, it was, that some random, cruel stranger told the UPS driver that he was, in fact, Saz and, thus it was, that he received Saz's package.

Now, here's where I abandon the tale and I rant. The question is this: If someone (Saz) does EVERYTHING in her ability to make sure UPS knows how and where to deliver a package, how is that a random stranger from the street can waltz up to the UPS driver, claim that he is my friend and receive her wine???

I get it. UPS drivers are overworked. They're tired. They don't have the time to dial the ten-digits that it might require to inform a recipient that their package has arrived. I get that.

What I DON'T get is how come it's not ok to redirect a package that requires an over-21 signature because it contains wine but it's ok to just hand it off to some nasty, selfish pig who decides he wants to steal?

And yes, I am aware I sound harsh but what kind of person just takes a package, pretends it's his and doesn't worry about the fact that he's robbing a person of a gift?

I hate that I'm not more shocked about his world in which we live. Yet, sadly, I am not. I am, however, disgusted at the pig who doesn't even worry about the fact that he's stealing but, rather, that he's got a package from UPS that isn't addressed to him.

My anger is directed at UPS. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? A person on the street walks up to you and claims they're the recipient of a package. A smart person/company would say, "well, let me see some i.d.".

But not UPS. Instead they hand it off to the stranger. Saz forwarded me the signature. It is not hers. It is an imposter. SHAME ON YOU, UPS. I get that you're busy but, really? You're so busy that you can't say, "can I see some ID?" before you hand over the box?

Fortunately, I ordered from Sanford. Let me tell you, this is a top notch business. Not only was their representative- Donna- nice but she was also sympathetic. She quickly offered to reship my order and, endearing herself forever to me, told me that she'd be yelling at UPS the next day.

I am lucky. I ordered from a place that recognizes customers individually, not as a number. Donna made me feel better. Saz will get her Vin Gris, somehow...somewhere.

Yet it is UPS whom I question. What kind of business sense do they have? Really? You deliver to some random idiot on the street who happens to know the last name of an apartment occupant? Shame on you, UPS...check the damn driver's license next time!

That is all I have to say on that for now. All I can add is that I adore the Post Office and, given the UPS blunder, I will be relying on USPS far more now than ever. I know I'll be alone in my resolve but, if you're reading, think again about UPS...you don't want your shipment ending up in the wrong hands.

Nevertheless, with a week before Christmas Eve, I shall keep my fingers crossed that Saz shall recieve her package. The element of surprise at the gift is gone but maybe, just maybe, the element of surprise will exist in the fact that UPS ever manages to get her wine to her without someone stealing it.

Christmas is full of hope, right?

Happy Wednesday!


Ladyaero said...

I, too, am a USPS fan. UPS has lost my stuff too many times (once a box that my folks shipped me that contained my favorite pair of earrings, which I had left at their house, and several IRREPLACEABLE baby pictures of mine). Rant on.

Sarah said...

Captain Monkeypants, there may be more to this story...got a message on my voice mail from the apartment management office saying they had a package for me. So maybe someone signed for it, had a change of heart, and turned it into the office. Or maybe the UPS guy couldn't find me (although I did everything), took pity on me, and signed for it himself, dropping it at the office today so I would be sure to get it. Stay tuned while I call my office to find out.

If that is the case, I feel horribly bad about the whole situation. But, it could be a different package - who knows?

Anonymous said...

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David Karver
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