It started two days ago. Two batteries, the ones my carpenter husband needed for a drill at work and had bought from an online store, didn't arrive. We had driven home over snow melt and through the mud suction pad that is our driveway, to find a small piece of paper taped to the front door. It was from UPS, telling us they had tried to deliver the parcel, but we weren't home. And because said parcel had been marked as high value from the store (which it isn't), we now had to sign for it in person.
This was going to be a large quest involving many difficult steps.
So we went online. We tried to get it routed to a nearby UPS location, but the webpage crashed each time we pressed the confirm button. Then, Tim tried calling them, and got lost in an endless phone tree, until finally he hung up in despair.
Later that evening, a thought occurred to me: why don't we just write to the kind man who delivers our UPS parcels? We've come to know this human fairly well over the past three years of living here in the woods of Maine. We've exchanged many a pleasantry as he's stepped out of his truck with his brown shorts and radiant smile. We've chatted about the weather and the sun and the birdsong as he has handed us our various boxes of modern life.
I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote him a short letter, explaining the website crashing, the endless phone tree, and could he possibly call us—or ask someone else to call us and help resolve the situation? We knew we only had a day left until the batteries would be shipped back to Philadelphia. The following morning, I taped the note to the front door with our faith in humanity restored, and we both drove off to our respective jobs.
At noon, I got a semi-anguished text from Tim.
He had received an automated voicemail—UPS had tried a second time but we weren't home. My heart sank. Humanity, it seemed, had lost.
When we got home later that evening, the lonely letter was still taped to our door, and we went about our evening routines. But then, at 5:45pm, something miraculous happened.
There was the sudden sound of skidding mud in the driveway. And there he was, our kind UPS friend with his huge human heart, stepping out of the truck. He told us he had come again, one final time at the end of his work day, to see if he could help get it to us. Because he understood, and he cared.
My conclusion from this small yet mighty interaction in the woods of Maine is this: automation, you may be taking over the world, but nothing, absolutely nothing, is as precious and inspiring and uplifting as the emotional intelligence of a human. And UPS, give this man a raise.
Photo credit: Justin Hamilton, Pixabay