Six days, $3.76 and 2,313 miles

The Post Office has always amazed me. Less than a dollar to send a letter from Arizona to Maine?

Thanks to the availability of tracking numbers, I’m addicted to watching the progress of packages I’ve sent or I’m awaiting.

Occasionally, this is an exercise in head-scratching.

Last week, for example, I sold a small item on eBay and mailed it, first class, in a 4×6 padded envelope, to a buyer less than 30 miles away.

I dropped it in the mail on Friday, in time for pickup by my neighborhood mail carrier. My guess was that it would be delivered the next day, or Tuesday at latest given Monday was a holiday.

Instead, it went from Phoenix to Los Angeles (!) for two days and then to Denver (!!) for a day and a half. If the Post Office site is to be believed, the package is out for delivery this morning.

Far be it from me to tell the Post Office how to run its business, but six days, $3.76 and 2,313 miles* to deliver a package less than 30 miles away should probably not be marketed as First-Class Delivery.

*For what it’s worth, driving distance from Phoenix to Bangor, Maine, is 2,935 miles.

Spelling Bee, An Endorsement

Completing The New York Times Sunday Crossword, as in any Sunday’s edition, remains a goal of mine but to be frank it’s far down the list.

For now, I luxuriate in breezing through the Monday edition, wrestling with Tuesday’s and settling for knocking out the Daily Mini in less than 30 seconds.

Lately my wife and I have been co-playing the Times’ Spelling Bee game, which has a simple if not challenging premise: How many words can you make with 7 letters?

Until last week, I thought I had achieved the highest ranking possible, Genius.

It turns out that a higher level exists: Queen Bee, in which a player makes all possible words from the seven letters.


That can mean only one thing: Solving the Sunday Crossword just got knocked farther down the list.

Dinner Choices

Even though Iā€™m three decades past my college days, I think I could still fit in, at least in some ways.

Namely: meal management.

With the fridge barren and cupboards thin on just about everything tonight, my dinner consisted of a bowl of Life cereal and a PBJ.

But who am I kidding? In college I would have ordered a pizza ā€” and I would have done the same tonight if I hadn’t had it for lunch.

Freezing Fridays in Kalamazoo

At a young age I knew I was not long for the cold weather and occasionally am reminded why.

This week I received the annual magazine from my alma mater’s College of Arts and Sciences. Printed on the back cover was a small article promoting a chance to support the renovation of a classroom building. (Name a room or collaboration space!)

The building’s name I knew but couldn’t place it on campus. I looked it up and saw the original, and soon to be replaced, Dunbar Hall.

This photo captures the essence of walking to class on a January morning in a cold-weather state.

Stay warm, kids.

IMG 9174

Share Your Feedback!*

“Feedback is a gift,” a former boss used to tell me. “You can either accept it or not.”

It’s time for some feedback on feedback ā€” the constructive kind, of course.

Over the past six weeks I’ve received a dozen or so emails from companies ranging from Apple to Zappos, stores where I made purchases during that time, asking me to “Tell us how we did!”

In many cases, they aren’t looking for pass/fail type of answer. They want detail. They want a review. And writing a decent review, one that’s worthwhile to another customer, takes time. Who has time for that?

I know from working with my clients that Customer Satisfaction (always capitalized) is a crucial measure for the business and a it’s a key part of many employees’ compensation.

But this consumer wants out of the stream of surveys and feedback requests for every pizza and burrito, Target or Home Depot run.

I also know that for the most part these surveys are automated and occasionally targeted, and that companies need to send surveys to a lot of people and hope 10 percent reply.

Sometimes the surveys just don’t make sense, given the detail and data a retailer already has about the order. I placed a couple of gift orders for Christmas in which I had the items sent to the recipient in another state.

A few days later, I was being asked how the item fit and a bunch of other irrelevant questions ā€” irrelevant because I don’t have the item and might never lay eyes on it.

The obvious answer** is to just ignore these survey emails and I do, for the most part. If there’s a discount code or something of value on the other end of the survey (my grocery store offers fuel points for a completed survey) I will do it.

But completing a survey for a three-minute run into the Hallmark store to buy a card? That’s a hard no.

This ends my rant.

*Please don’t.

**Another obvious answer is to stop sharing my email address and giving these places permission to email me. Don’t tempt me.