I have a love hate relationship with UPS tracking numbers. I love that it’s possible to track a parcel from the time it leaves the merchant all the way until it arrives at your front door. The hate comes when I lose my characteristic, happy-go-lucky patience waiting for a package to arrive at my desk when the tracking number shows it was delivered to my office hours earlier.
Of course I shouldn’t complain because any of you who occupy a certain age can remember the days when there were no tracking numbers. I’m referring to those dark, prehistoric ages, long before Gore discovered the Internet. There was a thing called mail order shopping and catalogs were the standard. There was e-commerce back then, but the ‘e’ stood for the endurance it took to wait the six to eight weeks for your package to arrive.
I recall, at 14, burning through the little bit of cash that my first job paid, ordering stuff from the Sears Wish Book. It was also a lesson in delayed gratification, because I couldn’t mail the order form until I procured a money order from my local post office. I didn’t have a checking account in those days (that first job was a cash under the table gig – another story), and it would be another seven or eight years before I got my hands on plastic (yet another story – this one with not the greatest of endings!).
We’ve talked about this before, but it’s a great memory that’s worth sharing again. I don’t know about your neighborhood, but on Drexel avenue back in the 70s, it was an event, as the world stopped, when the big brown UPS truck lumbered its way down the street to its anticipated destination. We were a tightly knit (translated: nosey) neighborhood, so everyone knew when you were getting a package.
It’s funny that back then, you filled out the order form, included your check or money order, dropped the aforementioned form into a mail box and then you’d wait. There were no confirmation emails in your inbox – hell, there were no inboxes! You simply waited patiently until the package arrived and didn’t think twice about it.
The crew in the mailroom eventually came through and my package finally found its way to my desk. Yet as I waited, I let my mind wander back to those carefree days of delayed gratification, money orders and shiny new items from Sears.