Do you remember that scene in "Cast Away" where Tom Hanks is berating some Russian FedEx employees because they don't seem to understand the concept of "on time package delivery?" Sure you do. He put a timer in a package that came from the United States and opened it to reveal the exact time it took for the package to arrive from the States to Russia. Then he started screaming about getting some packages on a truck and getting to wherever they were going. It was a nice commercial for FedEx, right in the middle of a movie. The whole movie is pretty much an ad for FedEx, except for the part where the plane crashes into the ocean and the packages start washing ashore. I think FedEx would have preferred they left that out, but it's kind of the point of the movie.
Last Tuesday I ordered a little camera from my favorite Internet camera store in New York City. What I have found out in the interim is that I should be in the package delivery business - or at least in the package pick-up business, as in, I should have gone to New York City and picked up the thing myself because I'd have it by now.
They provided a tracking number that allows me to locate the package on its journey from the Big Apple which, one would imagine would be a moderately straight line from there to my delivery point in Southern New Jersey.
To the FedEx people, a moderately straight line goes from New York on December 29 to Edison, New Jersey on the 31st. Reasonable enough, eh? Sure, until I checked today and found that the little guy is in Pottstown, Pennsylvania; a mere 6 days after it was launched from its origin point.
The other thing that the tracking information tells me is that I can expect delivery on January 7. What an interesting thing it will be to see where the package goes between now and Thursday. In the meantime, I could have walked it from New York and still beaten the FedEx truck. I can picture Tom Hanks screaming at the guys in the shipping facility. Oh, if I had only thought to order a clock too!
It gave me an idea as to how SEPTA and New Jersey Transit can overcome some of their budget shortfalls. They could throw a few packages on a bus or train heading out of New York and dump them at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, turn them over to the U.S. Post Office and split the profits. The buses and trains run regardless of how crowded they are, so what's the problem with throwing some cargo in?
I know one thing about SEPTA and N.J. Transit: When they run a bus or train from New York to Philadelphia it doesn't make a stop in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. I'm not an expert in shipping, but I'd estimate that would cut off at least a day. I'm expecting Tuesday's tracking information to include West Virginia or Delaware as a stop on the camera's journey. Hey - it's a shame the camera can't take photos of all the lovely scenery on it's trip.
I can't help but wonder why, with such an option as the U.S. Postal Service staring you right in the face that companies would opt for something that takes longer and probably costs more? When I order sunglasses from Oakley they start with a third-party shipment and it is then handed over to the Postal Service, which adds another day or so to the delivery time.
Or maybe they could have just shipped it via the U.S. Postal Service in the first place?