My Quest to Deliver Women Rowing North

During the Fall 2020 term, I took the OLLI-USF class led by Ara Rogers and Jane Applegate based on the book, Women Rowing North, by Mary Pipher. The book encourages women in the last third of their lives to explore ways to make their lives more meaningful. It was especially helpful to bond with my classmates through Zoom. We discussed our pasts and how we planned to thrive during and after the pandemic!

I view Women Rowing North as an ideal reference book for women in my age group, so I decided to order a copy as an early Christmas gift for my two sisters and my sister-in-law, who range in age from 58 to 71.  They live in Illinois, Georgia, and Arizona, so I ordered the books through Amazon because I won’t see them in person in the foreseeable future. My story focuses on my quest to ensure that each package would be delivered in a safe and timely manner before the Christmas shipping rush.

I ordered the three books on the same day. I felt like I became a shipping expert because Amazon shared the progress of each package’s journey to its destination.  Amazon provided an estimated delivery date for each package. However, none of the packages arrived exactly on the expected date. Even though we are in a pandemic, my relatives don’t sit home 24/7 waiting for packages to be delivered. I alerted each person as delivery dates and times changed.

Book One was shipped to my Illinois sister with a delivery date which was a workday for her. I alerted her telecommuting daughter to be on the lookout as Amazon has a deal with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to deliver small packages. The package did not arrive. Amazon emailed me that the package would be delivered in the next three days. No package arrived the following day. Sure enough, two days after the initial delivery date, a postal carrier left the package on my sister’s porch on a Sunday. Her spouse retrieved it on the spot. The postal carrier did not take a photo to document the delivery.

Book Two was shipped to my Georgia sister-in-law with a Sunday delivery date. It’s a good thing that she lives in a continuing care community which allows Amazon drivers to drop off packages in the mailroom. Amazon emailed me a photo of the package on top of a stack of Amazon packages for hopefully trustworthy residents. I texted her immediately, and she retrieved her package in short order.

Book Three was shipped to my Arizona sister and was the troublesome delivery. Amazon relied on the USPS to deliver this package on a weekday. Unfortunately, my sister was pet-sitting for a woman who was in a rehab facility after a surgical procedure. The woman’s recuperation went more slowly than expected, so my sister was still pet-sitting on delivery day. Amazon emailed me that the package was delivered to the mailbox. The postal carrier did not send a photo. My sister drove 45 minutes back to her house, only to discover that the package was nowhere to be found. It was not inside the mailbox or near the front door. Where could it be? Did a porch pirate pick it up shortly after delivery?

I called Amazon about the missing package. The kind and patient representative contacted the local Arizona USPS office shortly afterwards. I received a voicemail from a USPS supervisor who said that the postal carrier indeed delivered the package…to the wrong house! I returned the supervisor’s call, but nobody answered the phone.

On the next day, the postal carrier planned to check the mailbox where he mistakenly delivered the package and then knock on the residents’ front door to see if they would return the package.

The next day I received a second voicemail from the supervisor of the local USPS with an update. He reported that the postal carrier knocked on the door of the residents who received the package, but they did not answer the door. The postal carrier planned to leave a note in their mailbox the next day to request that they return the package to the USPS so it could be redelivered. Again I returned the call of the USPS supervisor, but nobody answered the phone.

Amazon was never out of the loop. The representative assigned to my case called me that evening. I explained that the package still was not delivered to my sister. The representative kindly made the decision to credit my account with the cost of the book plus tax. What a wonderful customer service move on their part! At least I would not be out the money for this missing package. I purchased a book for myself shortly after the refund was credited to my account. My sister and I agreed that I would send her an Amazon e-gift card if the package did not materialize the next day.

The day before Thanksgiving began with my sister packing her belongings where she was pet-sitting to return home. She hoped to speak to the postal carrier herself about the package. Maybe he could reveal where he delivered it by mistake.

The miracle occurred when the supervisor of the local USPS called me a third time. Although the call was not identified on my cell phone, my hunch was correct that he was the caller. I asked him immediately the address of the home where the package was mistakenly delivered. Luckily, the address had the same numbers as my sister’s house…on the street right behind her house! It was just a block away. If the postal carrier was unsuccessful at reaching the residents, perhaps my sister could give it a try.

My sister returned to her home from her pet-sitting job to discover that the package was tucked behind a potted plant right outside the front door. The residents took it upon themselves to drop it off at the correct address without being prompted by the postal carrier.

Despite the turmoil of these trying times, I was encouraged to see that kindness prevails.

Happy reading to all, and to all a good night!

Diane Russell
Diane Russell joined OLLI in 2014. She has taken over 70 OLLI courses on leadership, radio, life story writing, Tai Chi, healthy aging, literature, science, politics, sociology, and humanities. Diane volunteers as a proofreader for the OLLI catalog and for OLLI Connects.


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