The most frightening shipping experience I’ve ever had was when I flew from Portland to Sacramento and the airline lost my dog. (Don’t fret, this story ends okay.)

I was delivering Cutter to his new home. He was entered in a dog show the next day, so he was impeccably washed and groomed and a very sweet boy besides. I had his information taped on the top and three sides of his kennel, and a placard wired to the door. (All of this would later be found to have been meticulously removed in transit.)

I had flown with dogs all over the nation to shows and field trials, and the worst that had happened previously was when I missed a flight coming home from Phoenix. (I was six months pregnant at the time and could not get from loading the dogs to the gate in time. They had taken me all the way out on the tarmac!) That story ends well: Gary waited at the gate, finally asking the disembarking crew, “Did anything happen not he plane, like a woman giving birth?” The airline had promised to contact my husband, and did not do it, but the dogs were fine, and I was put on another flight five hours later.

The Sacramento flight was different.

Cutter was going to live with Jo-Ann King, and this would be the last time I flew with a dog. I had a feeling, and I should have trusted that concern further than I did. I insisted on seeing his crate loaded onto the plane, but when his crate came through to luggage in the Sacramento airport, there was a Springer Spaniel inside—it wasn’t his crate at all. Are you sure it’s not your dog? the agent said. Yes, I’m sure.

The airline eventually decided he’d been flown to Boise by mistake. I called Gary at home, who called Boise, and Cutter was not there. Eventually, he tracked down Cutter in Seattle. The woman in the Sea-Tac shipping office was charmed by our Afghan Hound. Cutter was a very sweet and cheerful soul. I explained over the phone how to Jerry-rig a slip collar and she took him for a walk, gave him water, was assured he could miss a meal (our dogs sometimes fasted on Sundays). She offered to leave him loose in the office overnight, but I advised against that. He would have claimed territory. The next day he was making himself at home at Jo-Ann’s home. We missed the dogshow, but it was still a happy ending.

Years ago, an Asian company sent me a dress to my physical address because they insisted they would ship FedEx. Instead, it came to the US post office in Warrenton (less than thirty miles north) where sorters looked at the address and, since the USPS does not deliver to homes in my community, they sent it back to China. Tracking revealed all. A CD from Finland arrived after nearly two months. A handmade doll from Russia was lost forever outside Moscow. By way of contrast, during the year I was Scheduling Chair for a national events nonprofit, I received a couple thousand pieces of mail via the USPS, and one became lost in the military mail for two weeks. Everything else arrived at my local post office within a few days. FedEx and UPS are less reliable carriers locally.  A recent FedEx package from Seattle was driven to Oakland, California, before turning back north to Portland then west to here. I’m sure there is a reason for that, but I would rather not hear it.

Today, UPS doesn’t seem to know where my painting is located. It took a day to travel from Marietta, Georgia to Hodgkins, Illinois, has been in Illinois for over a week, was supposed to be delivered yesterday, and today I am advised to check back for a delivery date. I looked up the distance and I live thirty-two hours of straight driving west of Hodgkins. I knew my painting was in trouble when arrival on schedule was no longer physically possible. My shipment is currently “in transit.” I think that means they do not know where it is. I fear it is lost, but at least it isn’t alive, right? Still, I love that painting—not so much as Cutter—and I hope it’s found unhurt. Three by three feet and flat, it should be easy to find. Shouldn’t it?


In the mean time, between checking tracking for my painting every hour or so for the past few days, I have made apricot/ginger/lime jam and strawberry/rhubarb jam, a total of fifteen jars. My tomato plants are doing great, the garden is lush without our doing more than remove things, we have walked each day, and I ran intervals again this morning, a total of eleven minutes running. I am still struggling for breath with intervals over two minutes, so this is going to take a while to get to my goal of thirty minutes in ten-minutes intervals. I’ll keep to eleven minutes total until I can breathe easier, then start bumping up my running time by half a minute, every other day. The good news is that as best I can tell I am doing well for speed, running under ten minute miles. I was a pretty steady runner back in the day. Despite these activities, I’ve spent a lot of time lately looking at the sky.

It is strange, isn’t it? In these times when some people are furiously busy balancing kids at home and work, while others like me have wide open schedules . . . it feels harder than ever to get things done. Judgement is somewhat impaired. Yesterday, I lost the headband I have worn while running for over twenty years. A favorite local restaurant has permanently closed. Our all-time favorite restaurant, Ove Northwest at Newport, Oregon, announced it has permanently closed. I only know about Ove’s closure because I was considering the mad plan of driving three and a half hours, getting a take-out lunch, and driving home again. (Gary has confessed he would have been up for that—we have been so good for three months.) I keep reading of people I admire whose memorials will be held “when the current emergency is past.” When will that be, do you suppose? Math is giving me trouble.

Basic math in my head was one way I could tell if I needed a walking break when I was running. I used to calculate running speed, distance, and times during my run. When simple division became a struggle, I knew I was oxygen-deprived.

Sometimes I think that the “new normal” might be like that. Everyone a little light-headed?

I predicted in an essay that went live on the Brevity blog last week, but was written in early April, that what we accept as normal has already changed. Print journals will find online publication easier and cheaper. Conventions that attract tens of thousands and made most attendees exhausted and sometimes downright uncomfortable, will begin to look . . . foolish? Dangerous? Businesses that have kept office space for people who work entirely online might begin to wonder why. They can easily monitor productivity remotely. After all, the old airline reservation system used to monitor employees’ number of calls, time on calls, reservations made, and responses to their work decades ago. Which begs the question: why did the man I know who worked in reservations for thirty years have to drive to the airport all that time, in order to do that work? Why is anyone doing such work in massive call centers anymore? Oh, yes, I am sure there are reasons, but perhaps fewer today than there used to be.

Which leaves me wondering about the UPS automated explanation that I cannot speak to a live customer representative because of “the coronavirus.” That explanation seems destined for change.



  1. Wow! I did have a dress I ordered from Belgium go to my old address in Ballard. My mistake. Thankfully who ever lives there now returned the item to Belgium and she mailed it back out to me. I hope your painting comes soon!

    On Wed, May 27, 2020 at 1:13 PM IMPERFECT PATIENCE wrote:

    > janpriddyoregon posted: “The most frightening shipping experience I’ve > ever had was when I flew from Portland to Sacramento and the airline lost > my dog. (Don’t fret, this story ends okay.) I was delivering Cutter to his > new home. He was entered in a dog show the next day, so he ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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