The Long Way Home 4.14.23

This long winter saw a spike in complaints on social media about small package deliveries lost or misdelivered. Many complained about packages being left on snow banks by the road, some where the house was actually in view and accessible--by foot or wheels. 

I was a bit entertained by the complaints, I’ll admit. The arrowhead is a very remote area that presents many challenges for what is euphemistically known as last mile delivery in the logistics world. We live in a country where package delivery is a large industry led by United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (FedEx). My brother in law points out that if the two package delivery behemoths were to merge they’d be known as Fed Ups.

Last week I became another who went to social media and complained about a package left on our driveway, near the fire number, about 600 feet from our porch. Admittedly the drive weaves in places and the house is not visible from that spot.

You might remember we had a final (I hope) winter storm Tuesday night and Wednesday (4th and 5th) that made for slippery conditions, especially away from the highway.

Several years ago I underwent a rather drastic surgery that left me with the need for what Medicare considers “durable medical equipment.” Durable is a bit of a misnomer as each piece in the puzzle that allows me to live a relatively normal existence actually lasts but three days. Medicare allows me to purchase a 90-day supply of these “durables" and I recently placed an equipment order with a firm in Duluth. The supplies are drop shipped from a McKesson Medical-Surgical warehouse via UPS. McKesson tends to break up the shipment using more than one warehouse to fill the order. So in the course of a week I received two packages and was awaiting the final piece the day of the storm. The piece left by the fire number.

UPS sent an email saying the package was delivered Wednesday at 5:40 pm. I knew it wasn’t on my porch so I assumed it was delivered to the backup location in Grand Marais where they often leave packages destined for us. (Kellys Hill is tough for the big, brown, two-wheel drive package cars.) But the next morning we found the box, in a plastic bag,  sitting in the middle of our driveway where the strong winds had relocated it.

Since I’m fussy about getting my supplies anyway, the fact it was left overnight outside made my blood boil. So I joined the rants.

Now that I’ve cooled down, and there was no damage to my supplies, I can take a more relaxed approach. 

We have a regular UPS driver, Dalton, who I wrote about in March last year. He’s a fine young man who represents his employer very well. This is his third winter delivering the tip of the arrowhead and he’s quite proficient handling the weather, the roads, and the packages. But he’s been off work for a number of weeks, recovering from an injury. So UPS moved in relief drivers. Understandably they aren’t too familiar with our unique and remote area. And that, I’m certain, has been the cause of package delivery miscues this winter. 

The convenience of last mile deliveries, and often so-called free shipping, have made our northshore paradise a more enjoyable place to live. 

I appreciate the Fed/UPS drivers who service our area and I feel bad about the nasty things I wrote about the relief driver who left my package on the road.