I walked into the UPS store with package under arm, ready to get in and out. I was being forced there - the U.S. Post Office had rejected me. “Are there any liquids or perishables we should be aware of?” they had asked earlier.
“Beer.” The postal clerk smiled in an apologetic way and gave me a look that said, “sorry you’re so dumb…”
“Can’t take it. You can’t mail beer.”
“Really?” (Why I was surprised is a mystery.)
“Yup. You’re gonna have to take it to UPS or FedEx. They might do it.”
“Great…” But it wasn’t great. The post office is marketably cheaper, plus they have a much more pleasant color scheme. None the less, the beer needed to be sent so I had to give in, and off I went to the brown and yellow building.
“Just this?” the UPS guy asked as I slid my package towards him.
“Yup. That’s it.”
“Alright, it’ll be 19 dollars to get there by 7 o’clock on Monday, or 59 dollars, and we can guarantee it’s there by the end of the day tomorrow.”
I was confused by his words because the package was only traveling to a place fifteen minutes away. “It’s only going in the city. It won’t get there tomorrow just because?” I asked.
“No, m’am. To ensure next day delivery, we have to use air service.”
“But it’s IN Austin.”
“So why would you use air service?”
“It guarantees it gets there on time.” That was all he offered.
“But it’s not going anywhere that needs a plane.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“I just… I don’t understand. How doesn’t that matter? Don’t you need a plane to do air service, and it’s IN Austin. So why is air service even involved? How would it be?” I looked down and saw an Iron Man keychain on his hip. Maybe that was the answer to the riddle. Iron Man was the Austin air service, and would personally deliver my package! Which, if that was the case, UPS could have my 58 dollars (and my heart).
“If it’s next day, that’s what we have to use.” He wasn’t budging, and gave not even a hint he might explain the situation further. If I was standing on the other side of me, observing my facial expression, I’m sure there would have been a mixture of, “I’m-so-confused,” “What-The-Fuck,” and “You’re-Making-Me-Angry,” there. I spoke slower next time. Maybe I was the one confusing him.
“So you’re telling me… it will be 59 dollars… to get somewhere fifteen minutes away…by tomorrow?”
“Yes. Because of the air fee.”
In the depths of my eyeball somewhere, I felt the throbbing of a vein about to burst.
“Okay, give me back my box.” I snatch it off of the counter in a huff. “This is fucking absurd.” As I left, the other employee of the store watched me like he was afraid I’d tear down their racks of boxes on my way out. Twenty minutes later, I found myself at the post office again. This time, at a different location.
“Do you have any liquids or perishables in here?” they asked.