Thursday Things

1. Allow me to introduce you to the newest addition to my life: my bistro set.

deckfurniture

Now, allow me to tell you the story of obtaining this bistro set.

Slightly less than one year ago (time flies!), I moved from a high rise to a not-at-all-high rise. Among the many (many) upgrades that came along with this move was outdoor living space in the form of a deck and an enclosed patio. Though I now had the opportunity to go outside without fighting with a questionably safe elevator, our outdoor living space was less than welcoming, as it had no furniture. I pondered this, though not for long, as winter arrives in Chicago on or around September 1 (that’s a lie. Winter arrives much later than that. But regardless, it seemed too late to buy deck furniture.).

Life continued on, and this past March, I got dumped. This led to a variety of strong reactions, including the thought that I needed to redecorate and take up gardening (weird ish happens when you get dumped.). So I bought a new bedspread and rug in the spring, flowers in the summer, and began browsing Pinterest for patio/deck inspiration, as one does.

Finally, in early July, I pulled the trigger: a bistro set–the ideal furniture for my space–was on sale through Target, so, after a brief text conversation with my mother, whom I consult for all outdoor living advice, I pulled out my credit card and purchased myself some deck furniture. #adulthood

Target promptly emailed me, letting me know that FedEx would bring the furniture to my apartment as I had instructed them to do. And FedEx did bring the furniture to my apartment–at approximately 12:30 p.m. on a Monday when I, like, I think it is fair to assume, most people like me, are at work.

The FedEx man left a door tag, per custom, but had put an X through the area where I was to sign to let him know he could leave my package. Confused and slightly concerned, I called FedEx to ask what I should do. The customer service representative I spoke to on this phone call told me to sign the door tag, and my FedEx man would leave the package. Problem solved!

I signed the door tag and left it on my door as I headed to work on Tuesday. Throughout the day, I kept an eye on the package via FedEx’s tracking website, and was much dismayed when, at approximately 1:30 p.m., I was told via FedEx’s site that the delivery man had once again come and gone without leaving my package. I then started a live chat with FedEx, asking them what to do. The customer service representative I spoke to this time put a note on the delivery, as I requested, that the FedEx man should leave my package inside my locked foyer – a foyer I knew he could access, as the door tag left on Monday had been placed on my mailbox, not the door, and said mailbox is inside said locked foyer.

Wednesday came, and I once again tracked my package online and was even more dismayed to find that the FedEx man had once again come to my apartment during the 12:00 hour and had not left my package. My dreams of al fresco dining–or, more accurately, al fresco reading–were dying a swift death. Concurrently, my rage with FedEx was escalating, as were the dramatics of text messages to my long-suffering mother, who somehow put up with me through this whole ordeal.

Now, as the mathematically minded among you may immediately notice, Wednesday was FedEx’s third attempt at delivery. FedEx only makes three attempts at delivery…or so they say. As it happens, if you call FedEx after the third delivery and unleash a few choice four-letter words on the unfortunate, non-native English speaker customer service representative who had the distinct not-pleasure of answering your phone call that Wednesday night, and then, as your frustration escalates, begin to cry, your unfortunate non-native English speaker customer service representative will transfer you to a customer service advocate – and let me tell you, these are the people you want to talk to. Or sob to, as the case may be. Not that I would know.

As you tearfully explain to your customer service advocate that you are unspeakably frustrated that FedEx came three days in a row at, for all intents and purposes, the same time–that same time being during the work day, when you are, you know, at work, because this is not 1950, and you are not a housewife, nor is this 1872, and you do not have a butler to receive packages for you–and that no, you can’t get to LaGrange, because LaGrange is a 45 minute drive away, and you don’t have a car, and the package is 50 pounds, and all you want is your package, and you don’t see why this has to be so hard, your customer service advocate, bless his golden heart, will let you know that even though FedEx only makes three delivery attempts, he will make an exception in your case (God love you, PMS hormones and/or overtraining irritability). He will call LaGrange, asking them to call you in the morning, and he will follow up the next night when he is back on his shift, if that’s all right. It’s all right, you snivel, feeling a little lot bit like a kindergartener being comforted by her parent.

I kept my phone glued to my side all day Thursday, but no phone call came from LaGrange nor my customer service advocate. My customer service advocate had told me that after my furniture languished away in the suburbs for five days, it would be sent back to Target. I figured I would then get a refund and reorder the furniture, this time attempting to time the delivery for the Monday after Lollapalooza, when I intended to work from home/recover from Lolla.

Five days came and went, and my poor furniture continued to stay in LaGrange. I then called FedEx again last Thursday to ask what was going on, and the customer service representative I spoke to called LaGrange and told them to deliver my package the following day (last Friday). HOWEVER, I absolutely had to be home to receive this package. No ifs, ands or buts.

Immensely dissatisfied that I had to take time off my job so FedEx could to their job, I begrudgingly agreed to work from home on Friday to await the arrival of my mortal enemy, my FedEx man. I checked my package tracking when I got up Friday morning and instantly filled with rage when I discovered my package was not “out for delivery,” as it should have been. This resulted in another phone call to FedEx peppered with four-letter words, which led to another transfer to another customer service advocate (who, upon asking me how I was, got the all-too-honest answer of, “Oh, I’ve been better!”), which led to a transfer to the manager in LaGrange, who personally checked to verify that my package was indeed on a truck (it was) AND a followup call from my customer service advocate (shoutout to Darryl. You the real MVP). On Friday I waited, and waited, and waited. Time ticked by, and FedEx actually drove by, but no one buzzed my door. My texts to my mom became angrier and angrier, as did my tweets. Finally, it was nearly 5:00, and I was composing yet another anguished tweet about how I never should have worked from home that day, as FedEx still hadn’t shown up. As I moved my thumb to press “Tweet,” my buzzer buzzed.

FedEx had arrived, approximately five minutes after I would have gotten home had I gone to work that day.

*headdesk*

I’m 100% convinced FedEx did this troll me. Also, for those of you keeping score at home, I talked to SEVEN different people in customer service with FedEx throughout this entire ordeal, which is seven more people than I would like to talk to in order to convince FedEx to, you know, do their job.

Wild idea for FedEx (and UPS, because I’ve had similar experiences with them as well): how about you focus on business deliveries during business hours, and home deliveries during non-business hours, hm? Can you imagine how much grief and trouble could be saved if you would just, you know, come to a person’s house when he or she is likely to be there?

2. While we’re on the topic of my being trolled, I would like to file a complaint against a particular purple calibrachoa plant of mine, which appears to be hellbent on messing with me. Observe:

Purple calibrachoa on July 5:

calibrachoajuly5

Alive, well–nay, thriving. All is well.

Purple calibrachoa on July 15:

calibrachoajuly15

calibrachoajuly15-2

WHAT is this madness. How does a plant shrivel up and die that quickly?! Where did I go wrong?? These are the questions I asked myself as I cried into my dinner on July 15 (I told you I was overly emotional these days.)

Purple calibrachoa on July 25:

calibrachoajuly25

You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m not sure if this flower is a boy, but if it is, I’m naming it Lazarus, as it has, apparently, risen from the dead.

Moral of these past two stories: my calibrachoa and FedEx are in cahoots to push me to my emotional breaking point, and I am FAR too invested in the state of my deck and its decorations, as I have cried more over things related to my deck than…literally anything else in months.

It may be time to look into rearranging my priorities.

3. I usually gravitate more towards fiction than nonfiction in the reading I do for fun, but after reading a string of books that could be best classified as “boring, predictable drivel,” I decided I wanted to stimulate my brain with my reading material and ventured into the nonfiction section at the library over the weekend, where I picked up Love in the Time of Algorithms by Dan Slater.

I. Am. Obsessed. Like, blew-through-the-entire-book-in-three-and-a-half-days obsessed.

When I got into online dating about a year and a half ago, the goal was to find a boyfriend. Okay, fine, the goal was to make a guy I liked who had a girlfriend jealous by getting a boyfriend myself, thus prompting him to realize his hitherto unrecognized love for me, dumping his girlfriend, confessing his love to me, me dumping my boyfriend, and us living happily ever after, as every romantic comedy has taught me my life is destined to work out. But that’s beside the point. Objective #1, regardless of my ulterior motives, was to find a boyfriend. (Which I did! Eventually. Until he dumped me. And then I bought patio furniture, upon which I sat as I read Love in the Time of Algorithms on Sunday evening. Life is weird.) What I did not expect when I swallowed my pride and crafted an equally parts witty and winsome OkCupid profile was just how fascinated I would become by online dating as a concept, human behavior, social norms within the online dating realm, and relationships. Goodness gracious. These sites are an absolute sociological treasure trove, and on more than one occasion, I’ve wanted to eschew all my actual responsibilities and spend my time studying the way people interact on these sites and the implications of those interactions.

Great news! Dan Slater did all my work for me! I absolutely could not get enough of this book. I am not a repeat reader, but I’m considering reading the whole thing over again, I liked it that much. It’s not really at all focused on “hacking” online dating, if you will–you will not find tips on how to curate your best profile to attract your best significant other in it–but rather takes an admirably unbiased, journalistic approach to online dating and explores its origins (true life: this way of meeting people has existed since the 60s), development, niches, privacy (including the suggestion that Facebook created a post-privacy world…another theory that interests me, as I’ve touched on before) and what online dating means for relationships in the Western world moving forward. It is so fascinating and raises so many interesting points, particularly about the ability of science/algorithms to find you a match, and, of particular interest to me, the implications online dating has on settling and/or the permanence of relationships. I have spent untold hours ruminating on settling and commitment, both in relationships and in other areas of life (I actually have had a post in my drafts entitled “Settling” since August 2013, so this has clearly been on my mind for a long, long time – I’ve just struggled to put everything bouncing around my head into words), so this has given me a lot more material to think on.

One interesting thing about the book–and a reflection of our world, I suppose–is how it’s already outdated. The book’s research all appears to have happened in 2011 and 2012, and it came out in January 2013, when Tinder had only existed for three months. I’m (still) not on Tinder, so I can’t make any accurate claims about Tinder and what it’s done for online dating–and, even more so, commitment, given its hookup-and-nothing-more reputation–but I’m curious how Tinder and its format have altered the online dating industry. Of course, as soon as someone researches that, another new, totally incomprehensible to us right now in 2015 form of technology/online dating will have likely replaced Tinder. Such are the limitations of print.

Anyway, if dating fascinates you like it fascinates me, I highly recommend Love in the Time of Algorithms. Also, if you happen to have Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance on hand and want to let me borrow it, I’m all ears 🙂 It’s going to take me for.ev.er. to get it through the library, though honestly, I’ll probably just buy my own copy. I’ve heard amazing things, and if I eat that book up like I did Love in the Time of Algorithms, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Shipping/mailing horror stories?
Fiction or nonfiction?

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10 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. I’m so glad you finally got your furniture!! That was seriously such a nightmare and makes no sense. Why couldn’t they have just left the package for you?!? I just bought a little tree for my new front porch and I’m really scared of killing it!

  2. Fed ex kills me. I swear sometimes they show up at the most inconvenient times and they are SO unreliable with when they say they’re going to be there. It’s so frustrating. But I’m glad you finally have some outdoor space! You know i wish I had some at my apartment (other than the public benches outside). Definite signs of adulthood 😉

    • If I were more business-minded/entrepreneurial, I would start a collective of business including banks, medical offices (doctors, PTs, dentists, etc.), and shipping companies that ONLY operated from like 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. and then again from 5 p.m. to 9/10 p.m., and then was open all day on Saturday and Sunday. Do you know how convenient that would be for like 95% of people?? How much sense it would make if business that exist solely to serve other people in some capacity actually operated at a time when other people could use them? I don’t know why that’s not a thing. It seems SO much more logical than, you know, delivering packages to my house at 12:30 day after day after day.

  3. Fed Ex SUCKS. How could they be so incompetent? I am filing them right up there with utilities, airlines, and the government for worst customer service records, ever. Also, for doing things on a completely nonsensical basis. But on a positive note – your furniture is beautiful!

    I have similar problems with houseplants. I’ve tried and failed miserably at growing potted basil, chives, and strawberries. No green thumb here. I feel your pain!!!

    • Seriously! I had equally frustrating problems with UPS around Christmas (when they were like “Sign up for this thing! We’ll let you schedule your deliveries!” and then when I did that, they were like, “Oh, jk. We don’t actually let you schedule delivery times.” >.<), and I just do NOT understand how these people stay in business. The same way Comcast does, I guess: by being the only people who offer the service, so you have no choice. But MAN. It's so frustrating!

  4. I have decided that I am never again living somewhere without a doorman. Having packages delivered when they won’t just leave them on your porch/foyer/etc is RIDICULOUS. Especially in a city where, you know, not everyone has a freaking car. Not to mention the whole delivering at super inconvenient times.

    As for your calibrachoa, mine are doing the same thing. I don’t think they like the heat. Annoyingly, the flowers that are doing the best are my petunias (my “SuperPatiens” are dead. Dead dead dead) and petunias are like one of my least favorite flowers. But apparently hearty.

    • Tell. Me. About it. You’d think shipping companies would have figured out how to deal with people who live in cities, since it’s not like we’re exactly few and far between, but man. What a nightmare. This is why I do so little online shopping! Nine times out of ten it’s easier to go way out of my way and haul things home by hand than it is to try to deal with shipping companies.

      One of my petunias (the one I thought stood no chance of living, naturally) has, hands down, been my best behaved full sun flower all season. The calibrachoa, true to form, have shriveled up again, but I’ve decided to stop letting my flowers dictate my emotions, especially since we’ve already been through this song and dance once. My impatiens are actually doing INCREDIBLE, which really surprised me, since I was almost positive I had overcrowded them. I guess my porch must be an ideal environment for them, since they (along with that one petunia) have been more reliable than everything else. Shoutout to the garden center at Diversey and Paulina for selling me flowers that make me feel competent HAHAHA.

  5. Wow, simply WOW!!! What an experience for you. And the worst part about it is that you gave simple instructions to deliver the darn furniture. I am glad you got your stuff but simply ridiculous that you had to go through that. I also have had bad experiences with Fed-Ex. I prefer UPS. 🙂

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