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“Lost in the system.” You ever hear those four annoying words? UPS or FedEx sometimes use them to describe your package, the one you haven’t received yet.
Sadly, there's a good chance a doorman in another building knows precisely where your package is: Sitting in his closet, which is where it will remain until he takes it into his head to do something about it. I would like to say that most doormen will make at least a modest effort, giving wayward packages back to UPS/FedEx or searching for a label or some other indication of where it was actually being shipped.
I’ve certainly done my share of reaching out to strangers and telling them that their package is in safe and secure hands in my building, waiting for them to pick it up. There were no ulterior motives, no holding a package ransom for money paid in exchange. I was doing the right thing.
A certain number of doormen, however, don’t. These are the ones who account for why your package is permanently missing: replacement cell phones, kitty litter, dog food, sneakers, movies, home décor items, coffee, wine, cheese, jackets, coats, t-shirts, shoes, the list goes on.
If any of these items sounds familiar and has you saying, “I never received that,” it probably means a bad-Santa doorman (or other not-nice building employee) got hold of it, took it home and spread the love with family or friends: His dog ate, his cat pooped, his kids dressed – all at your expense.
Or he earned money, thanks to you, by selling your unclaimed items – maybe those new Blackberry phones that he hid in the building. The only thing you have to show for it is aggravation from failed attempts to track what belongs to you.
Now, I’m not trying to throw UPS or FedEx workers under a bus, but let’s face it, they have to take some blame here. While delivering a package to the wrong location is understandable, not asking for a signature from a doorman on duty isn’t. Some delivery people simply mark a package as delivered in their little electronic tablet.
They do this out of familiarity and comfort: They see the same faces working a door for so many years. They don’t realize that one of these doormen is praying for a package that doesn’t belong. Also, if someone were to drop by inquiring about it, a doorman can easily say that another person on duty accepted it, or it was given back to UPS/FedEx.
Talking with different doormen over the years about this situation, some were quite blatant and callous in their responses. I heard things like “Packages are insured; it’s no biggie,” “They’ll get credited or money back," and my favorite, “Too bad.”
These hardcore answers totally disregard the fact that tampering with mail or packages is a criminal offense punished by fines and/or imprisonment. I mean, I have opened my share of boxes, but I did it with the intent of finding something that would help me get the package of Krups coffee-pod refills, calcium supplements, woolen scarves or doggy wee-wee pads back to its rightful owner.
And if one day I do come across the “right” package, like a new Android cell phone or maybe even an ipad 2? I’ll be tempted, I admit. But there’s an old saying that my better self will recite: He who takes what isn’t his’n gives it back or goes to prison. Stealing is, well, stealing. It’s a shame that not everyone in the doorman profession knows it’s also wrong.