Thursday, December 6

I Have A Large, Thick Package For You.

Get your mind out of the gutter.
(A post about shipping packages through the mail? Surely, it can't be funny or worth my time, right?)

ACT I.

A few weeks back, I spent a long afternoon in my office, crunching numbers and determining just how I could create a mail order system for 65 Poor Life Decisions without going completely broke and cashew-cake insane. My theory was that more people wanted to order the book directly through me as opposed to Lulu, because they wanted autographs and whatever other free merchandise, cat hair and perfume samples I planned on stuffing into the padded envelope.

So I put the time in. I calculated the cost of ordering copies of my own book. I ordered CDP pins and magnets to include (free!) with every purchase. I stocked up on black Sharpies, packing tape and fat bubble wrap. I have so damn much bubble wrap that I took a nap on a pile of the stuff last weekend. It's a heavenly experience, but rolling around on it virtually guarantees that you'll wake up with the terror of a man who thinks he's being shot at.

So, I incorporated all of these shipping supplies into my overhead cost, and found out what I needed to charge the fans in order to generate a profit that was almost identical to the Lulu profit I would have gotten regardless. I was trying to keep everything honest and charge people the bare minimum for the personal touch. Much like a DIY punk band or back-alley meth whore.

The balance was perfect. I was happy. The Missus was happy. My iMac calculator widget was happy. I threw a ton of money at the issue and embraced the hard work. My numbers were correct, my logic was airtight and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was going to be worth it. And so far, it totally has. I've sold far more books via mail order than I ever would have simply through online sales. I keep forgetting that most of my fans live off of the grid, shun debit cards and dwell in tar-paper shacks in the middle of Idaho, clutching a shotgun in one mitt and a bible in the other. How they can relate to my essays is beyond me.

My mother works at the post office, and she was designated the duty of calculating my shipping costs. The plan was to send all the books out via Priority Mail, which was secure and takes approximately 2-3 days to ship anywhere in the nation. I needed to make sure it was cost-effective, however, so I gave her a call while she was on the clock.

"Hey mom, I need to know if I'll be able to ship these books out Priority and still make a profit."

"Okay, how much does your book weigh?" She asked me.

"Um...I don't know. About regular paperback book weight."

"I need an actual number, Ryan."

"Um...six."

"Six what?"

(indecipherable mumbling)

"I need a weight, or this isn't going to work."

"Oh, okay. Sure, coming right up."

I set the phone down and looked around the kitchen for something to weigh this book with. For the first time in my life, it would have been in my best interest to be a drug dealer at that instant. Those guys keep small scales in their wallets, for Christ's sake.

Just then, I remembered that the Missus recently purchased a small scale in which to weigh her pet hedgehog, Laika. After all the pissing and moaning I did about such a pointless purchase, karma decided to goose my knob and once again remind me that I'm firmly not in charge of anything. I needed that scale now. That all being said, it is pretty adorable to see Laika get weighed, sitting so pathetically in a bowl on top of the scale, being judged, pointed at and ridiculed by myself and the Missus.

I set the book on the pink scale and read the display. "Nine ounces, mom."

"Great. Priority shipping will cost you about $2.10 a package."

"Awesome! That's exactly what I wanted to hear. Listen, if you're not busy this weekend, we'd love to invite you over for-"

(click)

Happily, almost merrily, I went about the number-crunching process, setting everything around the shipping specifications and reaching perfect monetary harmony between myself and the CDP faithful. Content, I curled up on my bubble wrap and dreamed sweet dreams of success and stray firecrackers.

ACT II.

The next morning, I took my first three mail order packages to the Post Office. They were stuffed to the brim with books and swag, sporting beautifully-printed address labels and expertly packed with love and care by yours truly. I felt good; like I was finally ready to reap the benefits of my hard work. While most people waiting in line were looking angry and impatient, I smiled like a dog that had all common sense bred straight out of him. I didn't care one bit; I was mailing my own books out to people who paid money for them.

"I'd like to ship these out Priority, please." I grinned ear-to-ear, while the man behind the counter slit my throat with his icepick stare (see? I can get literary, too!)

"No problem, douchebag!" He shot back. At least, that's what he wanted to say to me.

(bleep-bloop-button pressing-blorp)

"That'll be $8.95, please."

Hmmm. $8.95 sounded a little expensive, considering that it should have been around $2.10 a package, even taking into account the lightweight CDP merch, as well.

"Um, $8.95 for everything?" I asked again, just to make sure. I mean, I wasn't happy with the price, but it would still be okay if I cut some corners and-

"No, it's $8.95 each."

Pee instantly shot down the pipe with the reckless abandon of a fat kid on a waterslide, spraying the inner panel of my brand new jeans with little remorse. I saw my royalties vanish to the point of actually losing money for each book mailed out. It was over.

"Oh, man. There's got to be another way. I was told that Priority would cost-"

"It's $8.95 each for Priority," he snapped back. He had heard enough complaining today, he didn't need me in there whining because I didn't know how to read a kitchen scale.

"Damn. Is there any cheaper way I can mail these out? You see, I'm mailing out copies of my first book. You may recognize me from a little blog called the CDP. Why, just yesterday, I was voted the #1 Pop Culture blogger in-"

"Sure," he shot back. "You can send it as a Media Mail package. It costs $2.10 a package, takes 10 days to deliver and just gets thrown away if the address is wrong."

He looked up at me and smiled, knowing full well that he just slammed me, Postmaster-style. He knew I was screwed, and I knew I was screwed. Because of my error, I was now forced to mail my books out with the delivery equivalent of a rickshaw being towed by a quadriplegic. Slow, unreliable and embarrassing.

"Let's do it that way, then," I exhaled.

The old woman behind me in line perked up. "You know that you're standing in a puddle of your own urine, right?"

"Leave me alone," I said, as my Sketcher boots squished off into the sunset.

ACT III.

The second I got back home, I e-mailed the future recipients of the Media Mail books, letting them know what had happened, and that the delivery might take a little longer than expected. I also called my mom to let her know that one of us had messed up with the numbers.

"Hey mom, you messed up!"

"No I didn't, turd. I got your book in the mail today. It doesn't weigh 9 ounces, it weighs 1.8 pounds."

"Really?"

"Yeah, really. Priority shipping for 1.8 pounds is $8.95 a book."

"Crap. This is really going to put a monkey wrench in my money making scheme."

"Of course, you could just send them in a Priority envelope for $4.60. You do know that, right?"

"Pardon?"

(click)

So, here's the deal. It turns out that anything you can cram inside of a Priority envelope (not box) will cost $4.60 to ship to anyone in the nation within 3 days. Nobody bothered to tell me this until the last minute, because everyone within the United States Postal Service loves to watch me flirt with suicide. Including my mother, sadly. The shipping will continue as planned, you'll get your packages on time, and I'll still be rich.

More importantly, I think me and the Missus have been mis-weighing Laika. I don't know if there's a clinic for morbidly obese hedgehogs in the tri-state area, but I sure as hell hope so.

Please sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Comments:
Friend, even I knew about priority envelopes. I once sent a package so bulging, it needed to be wrapped with tape again to secure it properly.

But the real issue here is the hedgehog. Poor Laika. She never stood a chance! Get that thing on a diet!

P.S.- F1RST P0ST!!!!!111one
 
I had to make two trips to the post office Yesterday. The first was to send a birdcage I sold on Ebay to Nevada.

The lady wanted it ASAP and told me to send her an invoice so she could pay me. Being the computer genius I am, I couldn't figure out how to do that. It was dangerously close to 5, so I figured I would be a nice guy and just send the package and get paid later.

I get back from the Post Office and check my email only to find out she does not want the cage anymore and is refusing to pay.

This brings me to my second trip to the post office. Lucky for me, the post Office is in my backyard.

"Don't send that package I just mailed five minutes ago"I said to whom I will assume was the same dude The CDP dealt with.

Long story short, Ebay sucks, don't trust anybody.

Sorry for the rant,

Benjamin
 
I use media mail for all of my amazon.com sales. 20 plus books and not a single problem. They always get there in five to seven days. My dad's a postal worker and they can't just throw your mail away. They can send it back to you if they determine it isn't a DVD, CD, book, or other form of media (say, if you tried to use media mail to send your hedgehog across the country). You may have a problem if you are sending more than just the book.
 
CARGIRL - My knowledge of bulging packages is embarrassing (yeah, I said it). That being said, we need to get this hog on a diet, and soon. I bet there's nothing but butter coarsing through her tiny veins.

BENJAMIN - Doesn't that sound like a con that she plays on eBay auctions? I bet she gets tons of things for free in that regard; luckily for you it was nipped before it shipped! BWAH-HAH!!1!

COMETSTAR - Thanks for restoring my faith in Media Mail. I'm going the Priority route from here on 'oute, but at least I know that the 3 Media Mail packages will reach their intended destination.

I have to order more books tonight, so if you have mail order cash on the way, sit tight.
 
CDP - Send my book the cheapest way possible. I have the patience of Job. Well, maybe not, but I do understand the DIY thing.

CARGIRL - Also, bulging packages? Sweet Jeebus, Jailbait, what are you trying to do to us?
 
My hedgehog is the picture of perfection. You leave her alone. She weights 9 ounces, and that is that.
 
I still don't know what I'll read to the orphans at the shelter tomorrow. They were really excited about your book. It's okay, they take dissapointment and broken promises fairly well.
 
Hahaha!

CDP, I like how you look like you have freckles in that picture. It's adorable!
 
HATHERY - Faaaaaaat.

BLUSTACON - "We need another wall for our orphanage. 3 just isn't enough (haaack, cough)."

JT - I appreciate that. I'm almost positive that Priority will work for me, but if I'm in a pinch, I'll take you up on it.

Cargirl is trouble. I like saying that because she's a sweetheart.

But yeah, she's trouble.
 
They're not real freckles, they're sepiatone freckles! SEPIATONE!
 
CDP- Sepiatone freckles are still freckles! Awwww.

18+ CROWD- I could have done so much more with the "package" situation, but I held back for your sake.
 
BLU - Read them anything by Steinbeck. In comparison, their lives will seem full of promise.
 
Okay, so I have freckles. Whatever; I'm still badass. I wear a faux-leather jacket!

Double entendre or not, this was still one of the naughtiest essay titles I've ever had.

And you know what? I liked it.
 
I once read "The Red Pony" by Steinbeck because I saw it on a banned books list. When I got to the end, I was very confused. I'm still waiting for Jodi to do it with that horse.
 
You should read the director's cut.

Yes, I realize that makes no sense.
 
*shudder* my goodness did I ever hate reading that book.
 
So, you read a banned book because you thought it contained beastiality? And then you were disappointed when it didn't happen?

That sounds a lot like me.
 
Before I moved to LA I was working in a bookstore and we'd send any book, anywhere in the country for $3.95. We could do this because the store just paid a flat rate for shipping so the fee was just gravy. The point is, we could cram up to 70 pounds of books in a box and ship it UPS for the same rate as a paperback....so, I crammed all of my possessions in boxes and sent them out from the bookstore. resulting in a total moving cost of under $40.
 
Don't even get me started on Steinbeck. I despise him.
 
As for Steinbeck, I'd be happy to live like Cannery Row.
 
I like how we went from dong jokes to Steinbeck. I adore the depth of a CDP comment session.

Will, you have to flesh about 30 of these stories out and publish a book. I tend to sensationalize the mundane, but even your mundane is sensational.
 
No, I didn't think the book contained beastiality. But as I got further and further into the book and realized it was about a boy's love for his horse, I figured it couldn't go any other way (being a banned book and all). I've yet to figured out why it was banned.
 
Probably because it sucked.
 
That's my opinion on the matter.
 
We read that book in fifth grade I think. Well, everyone in my class did. I read Cliff Notes, and even those were dull.
 
Cliff Notes?
 
Please go tell Cliff about the rabbits. PLEEEEASE
 
Cliff! Cliff! Cliff! Cliff! Cliff!
 
I forgot to thank Cliff in the book. He won't notice. He can't read.
 
Awwww :( :(
 
That was totally the Cliff who helped me understand The Red Pony.
 
He's a helpful soul. At least, he tries to help.
 
Cargirl -- I'm just amazed you read books in 5th grade. We still had "readers" that had lots of little stories in them.

That's assuming that most of my class could even read -- which I doubt most of them could by that point. Of course, I read books on my own time but I was a nerd. And, yes, very little has changed in that regard.

The snow is falling in Omaha today. Maybe it will help us all forget what happened yesterday . . . .
 
Yeah Mike, I was going to say something about that. Know that the CDP is sending positive thoughts and hopes of recovery your way.
 
CDP -- much appreciated. None of the Hoss's were there but it's not terribly far from our house.

This event even took the talk of the Cornhusker's coaching situation off the news. I could have found a better way to do that. I also could have found a better way for Omaha to make international news, too

One thing we did learn is that our newspaper's website (Omaha.com) can't handle a semi-heavy load.
 
We had readers in fifth grade too...little summaries of Rudyard Kipling stories and so on. But I was part of a book club where we read more "advanced" books, like Bridge to Teribithia and Julie of the Wolves. I had a strong tendency not to read the books, because I don't read on command.
 
We read The Red Pony in 8th grade Honors English. I guess they don't have high hopes for us in Wisconsin.
 
I'm just amazed that so many kids were asked to read a 'banned' book in school.

Hoss, what is the population of Omaha? The only thing I know about Omaha is what I've seen on COPS.
 
Luckily for me, almost noone in my english set can read, and everyone who can just arses around.

I arse.

And am a Stevie King man myself.
 
I grew up on Little Stevie King!
 
IN 5th grade I discovered John Bellairs. (Curse of the Blue Figurine) I promptly bought every one of his books (very hard for a 5th grader to do by the way) and somehow managed to link every book report topic to one of them over the course of the year.
 
Blu - I was a HUGE fan of Bellairs. The Figure in the Shadows was my favorite, by far.
 
Nice. I'm a Jonathan Swift kind of girl. I enjoy his work a lot. Him and James Joyce are my favorites.

Thank you, AP English.
 
I think you're all overlooking a certain little 80's book series called Sweet Valley High.
 
Oh yeah. I remember seeing those in the teen section. As a child I did R.L. Stine and The Babysitters Club.

I remmber at one tkme being fond of the Among The Hidden series.
 
Stupid blogger. Why do my comments disappear?
 
CDP -- the population of Metro Omaha (the city and the 'burbs, including the ones in Iowa) is a little over 800,000. If the radius goes out to 50 miles, it's a 1.2 million.

I didn't even know there was a COPS ep in Omaha! Though there is a lot of action, In July we had 31 shooting in 31 days.

I'm still impressed you guys read books in elementary for school assigments. We didn't read Kipling until 7th grade and that was Ricci-Ticci-Tavi (still a fav of mine). Then I discovered we had a Kipling collection at home which I devoured.

About in 5th grade, maybe a little before, I read "The Three Investigators". Wow -- what great books. I read "The Phantom Tollbooth" in third grade -- it was my first book with chapters!
 
Mark my words. One day I will write a series of hip, young adult fiction that will net me millions in sales and film rights.

Thanks for the info, Mike. From what I remembered, there's a bit of a drug/shooting problem in metro Omaha. That's a damn shame.
 
We read Ricci-Ticci-Tavi in second grade, I believe?
 
Ricci-Ticci-Tavi in Second Grade, well I didn't but I overheard the smart kids reading it while I listened to Pac Man Fever.
 
We have that record.
 
Will, did you get your book yet?
 
I don't even know what we read in second grade. I'm not sure that words were quite invented yet.

But seriously, I went to a small, rural school that dumbed down their subjects for us farm kids. It wasn't until college until I knew what an "AP Test" was -- and then, of course, it was too late for me.

I'm desperately trying to find the lyrics to "Reading Kipling" by A Room Full of Walters because it would be funny to link to. Alas, Google shows no love.
 
No love for the literature crowd...typical.
 
Teh Slack informed me that it arrived today.
 
AWESOME.
 

Post a Comment

<< Home