Waiting for Grayskull Part 2: The Wrath of Khan

I’m going to warn everyone in advance that I’m about to rant. The following is my detailed history with the USPS and their transport of the most powerful landmark in the universe.

So my Castle Grayskull was shipped out on 12/6, the day after I received the shipping notice from Mattycollector.com. I was provided with a tracking number for the USPS shipment and spent the next week tracking it as it made its way from California to New York. That ol’ fortress of mystery made a few stops here and there along the way in places like Nevada and Indiana, but I was still receiving semi-daily updates on its journey and I was ok with it stopping to see the country, I’ve always wanted to go on a road trip myself.

After 10 days in transit, a time that I consider acceptable due to the holiday season, Grayskull arrived in New Jersey, where it was transferred from a “partner facility” into a USPS sorting facility. Unfortunately, this was the last I heard from the Postal Service.

The date is now 12/20, a full 2 weeks since “the King of All Playsets” was sent on its way, and I have not received my much-anticipated toy, nor has the tracking information been updated. I’m obviously at this point in freak-out mode and while I know things are probably fine, some sort of reassurance from the Postal Service would go a long way to calm me down right now.

So I head on over to their website and get to the customer service page which offers two ways to “contact” them- through email or phone. Since I prefer to handle things in person rather than via email, maybe I’m just old fashioned like that, I dial the number and wait to get some sort of helpful individual.

What I’m met with is the most obnoxious, pain-in-the-ass automated system I’ve ever encountered. After five minutes or so of being told exactly what it says on the website regarding my tracking information, I ask to speak to customer service. The recorded female voice informs me that I don’t need to speak with anyone because it can answer any questions I have. “Ok,” I said, “Where’s my package?” Again, the computer automated voice simply spews out the latest tracking information.

I again request an audience with customer service, and again am told I don’t need it. I repeat the words “customer service” yet another time, determined to speak with someone with a pulse, and this time the system says “Ok, but before I connect you I need to know what it is you’re asking about. Please say Tracking, Delivery Confirmation, or other.” I reply “tracking”, and that wonderful “lady” on the other end of the phone repeats the same recycled tracking information already relayed to me several times. “She” follows that up with “To track another package, say track package, or for the main menu, say main menu.”

I simply reply with the words “customer service” and the soft voice on the phone replies with a friendly, “Customer Service is not available at this time. Good Bye.” and the call ends.

Not available? The website says they are available Monday through Friday from 8am until 8:30pm, eastern time, and it’s just now only 8:45am. I’m starting to see your game, USPS. But I’m persistent so I call the number again. This time upon reaching the “I need to know what you’re calling about” stage, I state “other”, and my new friend says “OK, please wait while I connect you”, after which I’m greeted by the wonderful sound of hold music and Postal Service ads. Ah, finally we’re getting somewhere. Or so I thought.

After 41 minutes of sitting on hold and listening to “Are you in the business? The need to know when business? Then use our tracking service and blah blah blah” (salt in the wound at this point, that ad was) my favorite computer-automated woman comes back on the line. “Customer service is not available at this time. Good bye.” Oh, how I’ve missed her.

So at this point I think persistence is turning into stubbornness and I call back. Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment. This time I try a different approach- I tell that stupid, pompous, digital she-beast that my package was damaged, mangled beyond repair, and I don’t know what to do. Ha-HA, USPS, now I’ve got you. Surely you’ll need to answer a call like that and, what? Oh. Oh, I’m just supposed to go to the website. OK. well played. Well how about I need to change my address? Someone is going to have to talk me through that and I…oh, again the website. Alright, I get it. No actual people exist where this number picks up. Clearly I’ve been dialing Skynet this past 2 hours.

Well it’s safe to say that I’ve been defeated by modern technology, so I fill out the #$&%ing email form and send it on it’s way. I tell them that my package is lost, completely and hopelessly abandoned in some sort facility that I’m certain is really purgatory. I cry a little too, because it’s for my sick Granny, and she won’t live if she doesn’t get this Castle Grayskull transplant (her old one has broken clips and the Jaw Bridge just won’t stay closed). That’ll get someone’s attention.

The email form has 2 options- receive a reply by email or by phone. Well, since you’re kind enough to ask, I’ll go with phone. That’s right, I’m still determined to find someone living who works within the cold and empty corridors of this God-forsaken institution. I click “send” and curl in my bed in the fetal position. It’s just a waiting game now.

After only a half an hour I get a call on my phone from an unknown number. I usually don’t answer those but since I was expecting a call from the sole survivor of whatever tragedy that had occurred over in the USPS customer service department I decided to pick it up.

“Hello?” I say with a suspicious tone, half expecting the call to be a telemarketer.

“Hi, is this John Stranger?” the woman on the other end asks. I confirm my identity for her and she politely responds, “How are you? This is Debbie with the United States Postal Service and…”


It didn’t matter that she sounded EXACTLY like the automated voice from earlier, maybe that just meant that I reached the central neural output of this bizarre hive mind, all that mattered was that I was getting actual responses from an actual intelligent being!

As a side note here, as I’m typing this, I realize that had I just filled out the email form to begin with instead of being a stubborn jack ass, I would have saved myself two hours of aggravation. I can’t help but laugh at my own stupidity, but at least I got a story out of it.

Oh Debbie, you sweet, sweet thing. I’ll listen to whatever it is you want me to hear.

“I’m sorry to see that you haven’t gotten your package yet, but it was shipped the slowest method available (thanks Matty…) and since it’s oversized, it requires additional handling time. You should receive it within the next few days, I don’t see any reason why it should go beyond that. If for whatever reason it doesn’t arrive by Wednesday, just call me back since I’ll be personally following its progress for you, ok? Here’s the number to call.”


I jot down the number and thank Debbie like a guilt-ridden sinner thanking a priest after confession. Peace of mind! Potential resolution! Ahhhhhhhhhhh…feels so good. For about 14 seconds before I decide to allow my cynicism to take control and I dial that number Debbie gave me. I don’t know why, but for some reason I never take anything at face value and I suppose I just wanted to make sure I got the number right. So I hit “call” …and SHE answers…

“Hello, you have reached the United States Postal Service automated support line. Para continuar en espanol, dice “espanol”.”

Well played Debbie. Good game.


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