How it Happened

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” reads the inscription at the James Farley Post Office here in NYC, and perhaps it was true in 1912 when the building was erected but a hundred and two years later, the USPS has seen a bit of vision misalignment, or at least they ought to consider chipping away at that whole “swift” thing.On July 17th, or five whole earthly rotations ago I purchased some lovely plants from a nursery in Wadsworth, Ohio, a sleepy midwestern town of twenty-two thousand people. The plants were sent off, NYC bound, with the USPS 2day shipping. Meaning that even in the event of elusive summer snow, the package should have arrived this past Saturday.

But, here’s the rub. When it comes to the USPS, it turns out they’re a bit off with the whole “logistics” thing. Here’s why. Any package shipping from Ohio bound for New York should be a straight shot across PA. After, into NJ for final sorting. While I understand smaller regional hubs needing to categorize packages for regional and urban centers, I can assume that mail from a small town like Wadsworth would wind up at a larger sorting center. Check. In our vegetation’s journey this was Warrendale, PA.

2 day shipping done right.

Ideal path. Wadsworth, OH -> Warrendale, PA -> Elizabeth, NJ, - NYCizzle.

Ideal path. Wadsworth, OH -> Warrendale, PA -> Elizabeth, NJ, – NYCizzle.

Warrendale is outside of Pittsburg, which you would assume has an established package transit route between it and NYC. Meaning, that logically my vegetation’s next stop should have been NJ – Elizabeth. Likewise, Kearny are both larger sorting centers that do fulfillment for the NYC metro. To support this proposed path, and being that NYC metro is the size it is, even a smaller regional sorting center with a population of 250k and up would have a truck headed in its direction daily. From there, a quick hop across the Hudson and the package should have arrived at my door. The plants would have been basking in sun. Why the USPS decided not take this route is beyond me.

What the USPS has instead done, be it through an poorly written algorithm or a blatant series pf human errors, is the following: Wadsworth OH, to Warrendale, PA (Pittsburg), then to Albany, NY, which in and of itself is a three hour drive form NYC and has countless packages going to and from it daily – you know government – and then….  SPRINGFIELD MASS!

2 day shipping done USPS style.

USPS Path. Around, around, around the world...

USPS Path. Around, around, around the world…

As of the writing of this post, the plants (most likely fireplace fodder by now) are in transit from Springfield, MA. Their destination: what I can only assume is NYC. If this is correct, they will likely wind up in the Bronx this evening and be delivered tomorrow or the day after at best.

However, based on the path thus far taken by the USPS, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the next step in this journey take them to Bangor, ME followed by a short stint in the Galapagos before finally arriving in NYC. Why this happened is quite frankly beyond me, and aside from having a mild inclination that the postal service is just simply being spiteful, the USPS’ road less travelled from a logistics point of view – simply makes no sense.

What We Learned

The moral of this story, however, isn’t that I’m irked by my plants being slowly mutilated to death by the postal service (which I am), the moral of this story addresses the USPS’ inefficiency, the dollars and man-hours lost on this inefficiency and the addition to the nation’s bad humor by being this inefficient. If it happened to me, it happened to other Americans.As a side note I contacted the Nursery in Ohio (Hirt’s Gardens) and they have been nothing but stellar and asked to be informed of any damages once the plants arrive. Proving once more that Enterprise > Government (independent agency or otherwise).So what’s an independent agency of the U.S. government to do? Hire some consultants to fix its problems and for the love of all that is good, deliver their packages on time. While I’d personally love that contract, chances are a small independent consulting company like ours won’t get it, but let’s have some fun anyways.Problem: The USPS is seeing decreased profits. Performance has likewise decreased and layoffs are not an option due to unionization. How do you approach this problem?We’re looking for answers and will contribute our own in an upcoming post, but the scope is use a digital solution to address all three problem areas.