Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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The Long Way Home

This long winter saw a spike in complaints on social media about small package deliv­eries lost or misdelivered. Many complained about packages being left on snow banks by the road, some where the house was actually in view and accessible–by foot or wheels.

I was a bit entertained by the complaints, I’ll admit. The arrowhead is a very remote area that presents many challenges for what is eu­phemistically known as last mile delivery in the logistics world. We live in a country where package delivery is a large industry led by United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Ex­press (FedEx). My brother in law points out that if the two package delivery behemoths were to merge they’d be known as Fed Ups.

Last week I became another who went to social media and complained about a pack­age left on our driveway, near the fire number, about 600 feet from our porch. Admittedly the drive weaves in places and the house is not visible from that spot.

You might remember we had a final (I hope) winter storm Tuesday night and Wednesday (4th and 5th) that made for slippery condi­tions, especially away from the highway.

Several years ago I underwent a rather dras­tic surgery that left me with the need for what Medicare considers “durable medical equip­ment.” Durable is a bit of a misnomer as each piece in the puzzle that allows me to live a relatively normal existence actually lasts but three days. Medicare allows me to purchase a 90-day supply of these “durables” and I re­cently placed an equipment order with a firm in Duluth. The supplies are drop shipped from a McKesson Medical-Surgical warehouse via UPS. McKesson tends to break up the ship­ment using more than one warehouse to fill the order. So in the course of a week, I received two packages and was awaiting the final piece the day of the storm. The piece left by the fire number.

UPS sent an email saying the package was delivered Wednesday at 5:40 pm. I knew it wasn’t on my porch, so I assumed it was de­livered to the backup location in Grand Mara­is where they often leave packages destined for us. (Kellys Hill is tough for the big, brown, two-wheel drive package cars.) But the next morning we found the box, in a plastic bag, sitting in the middle of our driveway where the strong winds had relocated it.

Since I’m fussy about getting my supplies anyway, the fact it was left overnight outside made my blood boil. So I joined the rants.

Now that I’ve cooled down, and there was no damage to my supplies, I can take a more relaxed approach.

We have a regular UPS driver, Dalton, who I wrote about in March last year. He’s a fine young man who represents his employer very well. This is his third winter delivering the tip of the arrowhead and he’s quite proficient han­dling the weather, the roads, and the packages. But he’s been off work for a number of weeks, recovering from an injury. So UPS moved in relief drivers. Understandably, they aren’t too familiar with our unique and remote area. And that, I’m certain, has been the cause of pack­age delivery miscues this winter.

The convenience of last mile deliveries, and often so-called free shipping, have made our North Shore paradise a more enjoyable place to live.

I appreciate the Fed/UPS drivers who ser­vice our area and I feel bad about the nasty things I wrote about the relief driver who left my package on the road.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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