Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shape Up Or Ship Out

The other day the doorbell rang.

Not that I’m suspicious, alone, skittish, the crazy woman in the house that talks to her small dog all day long while drinking a bottomless cup of coffee with shaky hands……but….I don’t answer the door when I’m home alone (for their sake, not for mine). Plus my rule is that if it rings once it wasn’t that important anyways.

It rang once.

So, a few hours later, I opened the door to find a bike box. Nothing too unusual. Bikes come in and out of our house like a loading dock. Brought the bike inside like hired help and didn’t think twice.

When Chris got home, he asked about the box.

Where did that come from?

Special delivery? Candy gram? Flowers? I’m not sure. It just appeared at the door precluded by a ring. Even if I had answered the door I wouldn’t have questioned why it was here. Have you been in our basement? Bikes get around. They go places. They ship here, there and everywhere. Who knows where this one is coming from or about to go to.

Liz…..that’s your bike.

Great. Wait. I didn’t go anywhere. I mean, I went to South Carolina but I traveled with my bike and brought it back home. How could my bike have gone away and left me here? How is that fair? Where have you been bike! Who’s private parts have you been snuggling with?

Sorry, I got a little jealous there.

That’s your bike that is supposed to be in San Diego. The one I shipped the other day.

Well I’ll be damned. Leave it to my favorite shipping company to screw up once again. Better yet, leave it to my favorite shipping company to ship my bike from the depot two miles from my house directly and promptly to my…..home.

Brilliant, wouldn’t you say?

Needless to say, I was miffed. I don’t like traveling with my bike box because it is missing one key thing – a set of wheels. Two of them to be exact. And so, if the giant box needs to be moved it is either done so with a luggage cart which I have paid $3 for so many times I might as well own one for myself OR by way of my own two hands.

Sure, I’m strong with these massive pipe cleaner arms. But 50+ lbs of giant bike box and suitcase and laptop bag – well, not exactly things that can be easily moved together. So there I usually am in the airport hoping not to be arrested for leaving something unattended while carrying a box twice my size across a lobby while watching the other pieces of luggage left behind.

You can understand now why I often choose to ship my bike. Not without a lot of consideration, though. Recall if you will June 2006 in which I arrived in Lubbock, Texas to race at Buffalo Springs. When my favorite shipping company did not deliver my bike, there was a wee bit of a problem. A problem finally resolved when husband flew himself and my road bike to Lubbock on a last minute plane ticket that was dirt cheap – code for the cost of me doing the race four times – so that I could actually ride a bike during the bike segment of the race (other options were considered of course; running it backwards, tricycle with disc wheel, cartwheels, hanging off Leslie's bike, running in wetsuit & cycling shoes - all very attractive alternatives for sure).

And after a very tactful, diplomatic letter in which I admitted we all make mistakes but they made a really dumb mistake (in other words, how do you mistake “ship me to Lubbock, Texas” for “ship me to Ellenwood, Georgia”) and because of their mistake they should reimburse me the fee for the plane ticket and the bike shipment in the first place – well, after all of that they still said no dice.

Since then I’ve been a little skeptical about shipping my bike away.

Rightfully so, there was my San Diego bound bike sitting on my Chicagoland doorstep. Heck of a bad draw for the bike, wouldn’t you say? It’s expecting sunny and 70 and it gets poor excuse for early spring and mounds of snow instead.

I know what you’re thinking – didn’t she notice it was her bike box when she brought it into the house. Not really. It’s not like Chris’ box is blue and mine is pink. They are both nondescript black boxes with stickers all over them. So not a clue that the bike that arrived at my door was mine.

Since my husband shipped the bike, I left it to him to call the company up and explain. They said they would call the next day. When they didn’t – of course they didn’t, it’s not their package plus they already have the shipping fee and got to spend 2000 miles less in gas to get the shipment there – where? my house - I took matters quickly into my own hands and called the shipping company. Chris was quite impressed that I knew the phone number by heart. Trust me, when you find yourself 1200 miles from home at a 33 percent bicycle race without your bicycle – you learn the number you need to call. And you call it about 100 times in the span of one day.

I shouted my usual REPRESENTATIVE to circumvent the inane menu that never really helps anyways. Then I got a REPRESENTATIVE on the line. Long story short – they have no idea why they shipped my bike essentially from my house to my house. But that didn’t mean I didn’t try to get them to explain.

You shipped my bike from me to me.

According to the tracking, it’s in San Diego.

According to my eyes, it’s in my foyer.

But it was supposed to be delivered to San Diego.

Yes, I know. I am the one who attempted to ship it there.

What does the tag say?

I’d tell you but the tag seems to have walked away. Perhaps check San Diego. Maybe the tag got shipped there.

No tag - oh must be the problem.

Correction, that must be your problem for losing the tag. Now tell me how you will deliver my bike to San Diego by Thursday to solve my problem.

There is a case opened on this and it won’t be resolved until there is an invoice.

An invoice?

Yes, the invoice.

But I already paid when I shipped the bike the other day.

Well, we cannot do anything until the invoice comes through.

Call me crazy but doesn’t an invoice imply that I will need to pay again? And call me crazy but didn’t you already screw me out of the shipping fee which I’m guessing is a lot cheaper to ship it from two miles away to my house than 2000 miles away? Would you please just call me crazy?

We will call in the next day.

No, no. That’s not what I said. Crazy. Not “the next day”. And besides that is what you said yesterday when my husband called. And then you didn’t call. That’s why I’m calling you today. Don’t lead me on. Don’t tell me you might call tomorrow. I don’t want to date you. And this is starting to feel like what happens after a bad date. I just want you to ship my bike. Just take care of this with me today. We don’t need an invoice. I won’t tell.

When the invoice arrives we will call about your case.

Hung up. Fine. You know what, I’ll just take my bike on the plane. And pay the fee. And then when I get home I will write another tactful and diplomatic letter demanding the shipping fee and the pieces of my sanity that you keep stealing from me every time you complicate shipping from Point A to Point B into well maybe we’ll take it to Point C or Point D or just leave it where it started in the first place.

And now, I will be toting my bike box at 5 in the morning tomorrow into the airport, pay the exorbitant fee, risk arrest and detainment for leaving bags unattended while I drag the bike box away. Because there is no way I am arriving in San Diego without a bike. No way I will tackle this...

....without a frame and wheels (picture from socalvelo). Because it’s going to be a long slow grind up to Palomar’s peak. And for every grade I didn’t ascend on Camp HTFU’s epic cilmb, I will push myself one rpm harder to get up this climb.

Yes, it's time for another wizard chasing training trip with the big boys. It's time to shape up or ship out (also good advice for shipping company). All week I've been telling myself to take a risk, get after it - in the pool, on the run. I haven't done hard workouts but mentally I've been getting ready for this weekend which will be hard in my legs and head.

Because I was given direct orders from Sargent Corporal Chief in Charge Coach Harrison to "find my breaking point." And I will. It's out there. I'll find it, for sure.

4 comments:

Karl McCracken said...

So anyway, does your favourite shipping company's PR / Marketing Director know that you have a blog with at least several readers? And are you going to spill the beans on the name of this shipping company?

These are of course two totally unrelated facts . . .

Mallie said...

This is the second bad shipping story I've heard in about a month. It makes me quite unsure about how my bike is going to get to a race I have in June. Hope you actually get a real resolution after your next tactfully worded letter.

Beth said...

I feel your bike case pain, although mine has wheels so I can't even complain. They are SOOOOO big!!! Anyway, hope you and your bike get there safely and happy training in sunny San Diego!!!

Bill said...

Oy, what a mess.

Sounds like time for a Bike Friday -> http://www.bikefriday.com/tri