The Black Plate, Chapter 2: UPS Signature Required

For the full run down on the black plate, visit The Black Plate, Chapter 1.

Per Chapter 1, the last time the black plate changed hands, Sarah and Peter actually arranged to have it served to us during brunch with our rug rats. It was a bold stroke on their part. Like hell were Mark and I going to be outdone.

Naturally, in our frenzied hubris aimed at one-upping our dear friends, there were a few things that we didn't think through as carefully as we probably should have. Such as what "signature required" actually means to UPS, versus what we thought it meant. This caused us a good deal more pain than we expected. The end result, however? Totally worth it.

It should be obvious to you at this point that our revenge return involved shipping the black plate to Sarah and Peter. Overnight. Signature required. An ambiguous package designed to get them excited -- a gift, perhaps? -- only to crush their souls with scratched black resin. Mwhahahahaha.

Step 1: Affix the final insult.

As the working parent at the time this all went down, Mark was responsible for arranging the shipment, packing and all. After many iterations, he finally settled on this "punny" insult -- perfectly Mark, the King of (absolutely terrible, annoying) puns (sorry, babe!).

Step 2: Smother in multiple layers of bubble wrap.

As a practicing lawyer, Mark has sacrificed some practical skills common to most other human beings. Like shipping a package. Or wrapping your wife's birthday present. You know, things that can be outsourced to your office manager.** Case in point, the shipment of a black resin plate. The office manager at Mark's law firm, J.S., was all too happy to assist him in this little ruse. In fact, from what I gathered, the two of them spent a gleeful mourning executing on the task.

Step 3: A flourish

It's a little hard to tell from the picture below, but those vague images on the box are the hallmark of Sur La Table's shipping boxes. Yes, we put the black plate in a Sur La Table box. Because what the hell, right? 

Step 4: Preparing for shipment

As indicated above, Mark and J.S. chose "signature required" when preparing the shipping label. Because insult is best frosted with injury. 

What we did not anticipate -- because we are idiots -- is that selecting "signature required" when preparing a UPS shipping label means that UPS will actually require a live human being to sign for the package at delivery. This is not a situation where they will leave a note on the door giving the recipient an option to sign the back and have the package delivered the next day. Oh no, they are not going to hand over the package until someone, preferably an adult, puts stylus to scanner and scribbles something illegible but legally binding. 

Of course, Mark and I were not aware of this because, like pretty much everyone else on the planet, we've received the little delivery attempt notice sticky that asks for a signature, signed the back, and gotten our package the next day. Little did we know that this kind of "signature required" is simply discretionary on the part of the driver, and can be done whenever your deliveryman feels like being an jerk or UPS has decided it needs to cover its ass for whatever arbitrary reason. When you select "signature required" on the shipping label, they require a damn signature.

The realization that we'd perhaps taken our little game a bit too far occurred to us when we tracked the package only to discover that three delivery attempts had been made -- the maximum number -- without a signature. The black plate was now in shipping carrier limbo. We now faced a decision: allow nature to run its course and trust that Sarah and Peter would attempt to pick up a package they were not expecting, or figure out how to reroute.

As it turns out, once you've designated "signature required" on a package, a signature is required. Even the original sender cannot change this. We were, however, given the option to reroute the package to an address where a live human being was more likely to be during normal business hours. The plate ended up going to Sarah's office. She thought it was something she'd ordered from Amazon. After a very long, drawn out process, the joke was finally on Sarah and Peter, and not us. 

The best laid plans, people. The best laid plans ....

**When I was forcing poor Mark to listen to the draft of this blog post last night, I got to the part about how being a lawyer tends to reduce ones ability to do practical things, like ship a package. Before I even got to the sentence about he outsources it to his office manager, he retorted indignantly, "I know how to get these things done. I give them to J.S. (the office manager)!" Point made. Case closed. Thank you.


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