Saturday, June 3, 2017

Technology Teaches Me

It’s been only a little over thirty years …

Tom sent me an overnight UPS package from the center of the state on Thursday before Memorial Day. It was important, of course, otherwise he wouldn’t have sent it overnight. The actual transaction with UPS was handled by his office assistant, Sherie ( names have been changed ). Tom sent me an email, ‘the package is ready, let us know when we can send it,’ I responded, ’we’re ready, send it,’ and Sherie sent an email, ‘the package is on its way, you should have it by 10:30 tomorrow.’

The next day came and went without the arrival of said package; I knew both Tom and Sherie were out of the office … I figured they were each getting a head start on Memorial Day weekend … so I didn’t contact them. As a courtesy, however, the next morning I sent each of them a note that the package had not arrived.

“Sherie will consider it Tuesday,” Tom wrote; “she’s at her uncle’s funeral. He died suddenly; young; sad; children.”  I sent her a brief condolences email.

A couple of things happened, then, on Tuesday morning … the doorbell rang, and UPS delivered the package, having taken five days ( including a 3-day holiday weekend ) to do so. I got an email from Sherie, ‘UPS said the address was not recognized … we have your correct address, don’t we?’


I retrieved the package, which was wrapped in clear plastic but had an address label pasted outside the wrap. There was my address, as clear as could be: 5843 E. Kelvin Pkwy ( not my real address ); I unpeeled the address label to see the address entered by Sherie before submitting for delivery: 5843 Kelvin Parkway East. To my eye, and I’m sure to yours, these addresses are substantially identical. But to a computer they apparently are substantially different.

Ellie and I had always preferred the ‘Kelvin Parkway East’ version of our address; we seem to be alone in this preference. … Items addressed to that form of the address were frequently delivered with the E. Kelvin Pkwy address on an address label mounted over the original. When we’d ordered something online and offered that version of the address, the website would provide the other form as an alternate and let us choose one. Entering 5843 Kelvin Parkway East in the search bar results in Mapquest’s taking you to 5843 E. Kelvin Pkwy.

It’s been only a little over thirty years that my wife and I have lived here, and, thanks to technology, it seems I’ve finally learned my address.
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