Now Appearing: my short story "He Angles, She Refracts" in Heliotrope issue #3
"The Fate of Captain Ransom" in Strange New Worlds 10
My short story "After The Sky Fell" in Polyphony 5, Wheatland Press
"Messages" appeared in Realms Of Fantasy, April 2001
|:: HOME :: GET EMAIL UPDATES :: Wordos :: Web Rats :: Oregon Coast Writers Workshops :: Journal Links :: www.shortshortshort.com :: EMAIL ::|
Read/Post Comments (1)
2003-08-28 3:46 PM
The Lost Red Hot Typewriter
Back at the beginning of June I ordered two books from Amazon.com. Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson. And The Red Hot Typewriter: The Life and Times of John D. Macdonald by Hugh Merrill.
Blind Lake had a release date of August 2003, but they had copies of The Red Hot Typewriter on hand. I had them wait until both books were available before shipping.
On July 24 when they received Blind Lake, The Red Hot Typewriter was out of stock, although that's not what I found when I checked their website, but I digress.
On July 24 they went ahead and sent Blind Lake instead of waiting, which is fine. I have it here with me now.
On August 2, Amazon sent The Red Hot Typewriter.
On August 9, early Saturday morning, I checked my P.O. box. Inside, I had one of those yellow cards that tells me I have a package to pick up at the service window. The card was dated 8/5.
The nice, friendly woman at the window took my card and went looking for my package. She came back empty handed. She speculated someone had written down the wrong box number. I told her I was expecting a package. Then she took another look and again came back empty handed.
She saw the initials of the person who signed the yellow card and said she was surprise that person would make a mistake. We decided the best course of action would be to check the tracking of the package and come back later when the full-service windows were open.
So I go home, check Amazon.com, check the tracking of my package, and I find out the Eugene post office left noticed of the package on 8/5, which matches the date on the yellow card. The tracking information also told me someone picked up the package on 8/8.
That someone wasn't me.
Worried about the whereabouts of my package, I printed out the tracking information and drove back down to the post office. A postal clerk searched again and was puzzled by this. He even speculated another postal clerk may have given my package to the wrong person. He told me to come back on Monday and talk to the supervisor.
And I did. Again, I had postal employees shaking their heads with puzzled, concerned expressions. "This kind of thing never happens," I heard the supervisor say.
Let me say this, I agree, for the volume of stuff the post office handles, they do a great job of getting things to the right person without losing a lot of letters and packages.
It became quickly apparent they didn't have a system in place for this sort of thing. Amazing, yes. Again, a testement for all the mail they handle. But, I just wanted them to find out what happened to my package.
Instead, I was getting lines about insurance and how Amazon would be responsible for having some. That wasn't right, I told them. I paid for the book and Amazon would have no reason for insuring it.
This supervisor was careful about not saying the post office lost it or they gave it to the wrong person or that they were responsible.
I gave my theory about the package being given to the wrong person, which caused more postal clerks do another search. I was hoping they would find the yellow card. told them this wouldn't be a problem if the person who mistakenly received my package would return it.
I'm in the information desk area of my post office when I'm talking to them. This is where you go to apply for passports, so there were customers listening to all this.
The supervisor finally gave me a form to fill out. She told me to hand it in to the clerk working the passport desk and an investigation would be made.
The supervisor leaves me be. As soon as she leaves, the clerk at the desk waves at me and says, "Don't fill that out."
He waves me over and tells me that form will not help me. Why would the supervisor tell me to fill it out if it wouldn't do any good? He told me she isn't in the trenches and doesn't know the system like others do.
He goes on to tell how the form needs information from the sender (Amazon) so it's useless to me. He also said he knew the people who rented the P.O. boxes. They're good people. He told me to give it some time. Whenever whoever notices they got the wrong package, they will return it to the post office.
I stood there, a little frustrated at this point. I respect the fact this doesn't happen too often, but I wish they had a system for dealing with my problem--like checking ID before handing over a package, perhaps. Also, I was getting a glimpse of the office politics involved here.
I ask again about the supervisor and this guy asks me if I ever heard of the Peter Principle. The more inept, the higher you go.
So this clerk calls up the next passport customer and I go wandering into the lobby. I looked at the form and I agreed I needed information from Amazon. I also decided I would give it some time. Maybe my package would be returned.
However, by the time I got home, I decided to call the eight hundred number for the U.S. postal service. I wasn't on hold for long and the person who helped me took down all my information and read it back to me. The last sentence read something like: "Rob would like an investigation to the whereabouts of his package so it may be delivered to him." Great! That's all I wanted. It took me a half hour at the post office with nothing to show for it. A call to the eight hundred numer got my report done and entered in five minutes. I wish I would have done that in the first place.
Two weeks later and nobody has returned The Red Hot Typewriter to the post office.
I got a call and a letter the other day from the supervisor at my post office. She wanted to reimburse me for the book on this one time only basis. She was willing to make an exception in my situation. Normally they don't give refunds on uninsured items.
Part of me feels guilty about this, but the evidence is striking, I think. It's not like my package fell of a truck or into a black hole. By the tracking system it's evident my package was given to the wrong person. Granted, the person who accepted the package is just as much to blame. I could be way off on my theory. Who knows what happens within the system.
But say somone did get The Red Hot Typewriter. Are they John D. Macdonald fans? Are they writers? I hope they liked the book. Maybe they went to a used book store and sold it.
I have a story to get done by September 1. Maybe that's why I'm in here writing a long, unimportant to most, journal entry. I'm working on the story I originally had planned for the Strange Horizons workshop. It wasn't working then, but I think I get it to work now.
The critque of "Who Shaves The Barber" at the Strange Horizons workshop was a good one. Meaning, the subject matter caused some great discussion. Male puberty isn't something that's read about very often. I got that comment more than once. Obviously there must be plenty of stories about women going through the change. That's what Jenn's story was about anyway. That and so much more. I can rewrite my story, get a new title, and send it off. I can learn from the flaws that were pointed out and apply the knowledge to the next story. Sarah's critique was a good one, both on an overall look and on a grammatical level. Just when I think I don't have any passive voice in a story, more is pointed out to me. The gift of the grammar Goddess. I'm going to list my most common mistakes and use this list for rewriting. Also, I'm going to read my stories aloud, a suggestion given to me more than once in the past but I've been too stubborn to make the time to do it.
Now back to work.
Stories Circulating: 6--Today I sent out "After The Sky Fell" to Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet and "Recall" to ASIM (yesterday, actually).
On Desk: 4--WOTF rejection came in today. Add "He Angles, She Refracts" to the two Denise Little workshop stories and the SH workshop story.
Read/Post Comments (1)
Previous Entry :: Next Entry
Back to Top
© 2001-2010 JournalScape.com. All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.