Call it a weird indulgence, for that it surely is. I’ve been slowly re-collecting childhood books—really what we call “tween books” these days, but there were no tweens back then. Since these are out of print and somewhat difficult to find, I order them when I can afford to, and have been doing so for over a decade now. The latest one shipped from Minnesota, via the US Postal Service. Since these are not easily replaced, I follow the tracking. The seller indicated a delivery date of September 16-18, only to send an early delivery notice when it was mailed. Indeed, I’d ordered this on the 8th and by the 10th it was in Pittsburgh. In case you’re not familiar with Pennsylvania geography, I’ve sketched a map.
Pittsburgh is about 6 hours away from where I live. It was now scheduled for delivery on the 11th. I had my doubts. I awoke on the eleventh to find that it had overshot and was now in Baltimore. Baltimore is only about two-and-a-half hours away, but still, the thought that it could reach the local post office and get out for delivery that same day seemed slim. The next day was Sunday, so I figured maybe Monday. Sure enough, on Saturday the 11th it had reached the dreaded Lehigh Valley Distribution Center, in Allentown. Allentown is only ten miles from here, within actual walking distance. The tracking site said it would be delayed. On the 14th it had been shipped back to Pittsburgh (where it had been less than a week before), from there to Warrendale (which I had to look up on a map), and from there to Johnstown. Barring another flood, it was due here on the 16th. Of course, it may have to go through the horror-inducing Lehigh Valley Distribution Center again.
That same center had shipped a package to East Stroudsburg, over thirty miles away, just the week before and had sent a notice that it had reached its final destination. I’m not one for squandering money, but I would gladly buy the Lehigh Valley Distribution Center a map. They could look and see that Bethlehem is a mere 20-minute drive to the east. That could prove useful information. The package arrived the 15th. The next day I received a status update alert that it was out for delivery and would arrive that day. I’m a Post Office booster. I believe the government should fund the postal service adequately and quit trying to win elections by cheating. And maybe they could throw in a map while they’re at it. I’ve got one they can have for free.