‘Adventures in Toyland,’ a play in 3 acts

Picture 1ACT 1

TIME: EARLY THIS MORNING (WEDNESDAY)

THE SCENE: THE DOWD HOUSEHOLD.

It’s 8:40 a.m. and the voice on the other end of the phone sounded, for reasons unfathomable to me, both challenging and annoyed at the same time.

“You filed an online request for a UPS freight pickup for this morning, right?”

Yes, I did. And I even followed it up with a phone call to the UPS Customer Service 800 number to be sure it had gone through. They told me everything was in order.

“No way this is going to happen.”

Pardon me?

“I said there’s no way we’re going to pick up anything at the time you said — between 9 and 10:30 a.m. Our drivers don’t even start until 10.”

Interesting. No one informed me of that before, even when I spoke with Customer Service last evening.

“Well, I don’t know who you talked to but it wasn’t anyone here,” the voice said in an even more challenging tone, the sort we’ve all heard when customer satisfaction takes a backseat to ass covering.

I know that. As I said, I called the UPS Customer Service 800 number to be sure I had properly filed the pickup request. I was told it was all in order. Would you like the pickup request number?

“It don’t matter. We can’t do it.”

Oh. Well is there a better time today for a pickup? It’s seven boxes full of toys for kids in Staten Island who were wiped out by Hurricane Sandy, so it’s time sensitive. That’s why I called on UPS which touts its online shipping system.

“You don’t understand. We’re picking up and dropping off all day. I can’t give you a time. Do you want me to cancel the order?”

How about trying to work with me while I try to solve this on the fly? Can you give me a window of time when you might be able to pick up the shipment?

“I told you, we’re picking up and dropping off all day.”

Well, can we bring the boxes to you for shipment? Just give me a reasonable time and I’ll try to get them to you.

“It has to be before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.”

But it’s closing in on 9 a.m. now. That’s not enough time to get to our storage facility, pack the boxes in a truck and get them to you. And if we have to wait until after 4 p.m., we’ve lost an entire day’s shipping time. This really is a time-sensitive load.

“I can’t do anything about that. Do you want me to cancel the order?”

Well, it seems that’s what you’d like to do.

“So, do you want me to cancel it?”

Actually, no. What I want is for you to make a little bit of effort to try getting these toys down to Staten Island for the kids. They’ve been disappointed enough. It’s obvious that you don’t locally honor an online UPS pickup order even though UPS says you do. So, please try to work with me to get around the problem, OK?

“There’s nothing I can do. So, you want me to cancel the order?”

Yes, obviously that will make you feel better. Cancel it.

ACT 2

TIME: LATER THAT SAME DAY, AFTER BILL AND MURRAY HAD LOADED SEVEN 2′ X 2′ X 2′ SHIPPING BOXES FULL OF TOYS ON MURRAY’S TRUCK FOR TRANSPORTATION TO A SHIPPING STORE.

THE SCENE: A UPS shipping center franchise in East Greenbush.

Us: We had trouble with an online UPS freight pickup request, so we’d like to ship these 7 boxes from here.

Them: OK, let’s measure and weigh them and get them going. (Much measuring of boxes and grunting ensue as they are hoisted onto the scales.)

Us: They’re all going to the same location, down in Staten Island.

Them: (after more weighing, keyboard poking, hemming and hawing, and informing us a next-day shipping request would cost upwards of $200 per box, we responding that we could live with getting the packages to Staten Island by Monday, Dec. 16) OK, that will be, with a discount, $601.35.

Us: (Quietly gasping at the quote.) Here’s my AmEx card. Put it on here.  (I pay, we leave.)

ACT 3

TIME: EVEN LATER THAT SAME DAY.

THE SCENE: SOMEWHERE IN THE ETHER THAT LINKS TWO TELEPHONES.

Murray: Bill, I was thinking on the way home after we dropped off those packages. That was over $600. That’s ridiculous. When you add other toys you’ll be picking up on Thursday, it might wind up costing you $1,000 to ship all the boxes. I told the guys at the store to cancel the order. I’ll just take everything down to Staten Island on Sunday in my truck.

Bill: That’s awfully nice of you, but it’s OK. The cost would have been tax deductible. Besides, if you’re anything like me, you hate to drive distances. I just want to get the toys down to the kids without it being a hassle for everyone. No sense you spending time and gas to do that.

Murray: I don’t mind driving. I can go early when there’s no traffic, drop off the toys, and be home in time for lunch. And you won’t have to spend that kind of money.

Bill: OK, if you insist. But you’ve already done a lot for this project.

Murray: I really don’t mind. So, it’s settled?

Bill: Yes. And we certainly appreciate it tremendously. You’re a good man, Murray Forth.

THE CURTAIN FALLS. OFFSTAGE, THE NARRATOR SAY, “OH, LOOK. TOY DRIVE COORDINATOR APRIL DOWD JUST ENTERED WITH 30+ MORE TOYS AND BOOKS SHE SHOPPED FOR … AND ON IT GOES.


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One thought on “‘Adventures in Toyland,’ a play in 3 acts

  1. Wow. What a lousy reaction and it isn’t even the week before Christmas. This should go to the main UPS office. Let them know Brown can’t do for us.

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