Rules over Principles

It’s amazing how a simple mindset can show itself to be as strong and unrelenting as hardened steel.


Last week I was shipped a small package from the US West Coast via FedEx Supersaver.  Giving me the tracking number, the manufacturer said it was scheduled for a Tuesday delivery, but, noting the weekend in between, with planes still flying, they said it might easily arrive on Monday.


Sure enough, early Monday morning, tracking on my PC indicated that my parcel was sitting 8 miles away in the area depot!


Since a signature was required and I had to go out of town, I called the FedEx 800 number to see if my prize could be held at the station for pickup when I returned later that day.


They said, “Sure!”


So, about 2:30 in the afternoon, I got off the highway and headed for the depot.  Tracking number in hand, with picture government issued ID, I went into the FedEx front office, rendered all the salient details to the counter clerk, who, after pulling up my parcel on the computer said, “Your package is here, but you can’t have it, because you’re not scheduled to get it until tomorrow.”


Now I thought this was very funny because I assumed she was joking.  But then she said, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”


Now, there have been times at Christmas when I’ve received a box that says, “Do not open till December 25th!”  And I don’t.  But these instructions never come from the delivery people, only family.  Never, in my recollection has FedEx, or UPS, or DHL, or Dingbats Delivery ever said, “We’ve got your package, but  we won’t give it to you until we think you should have it.”


So I restated my original request, garnering the reply that I’m not supposed to receive my package until the next day and that presently it’s locked in a cage that cannot be unsealed until the next morning. 


Mind you, we’re talking about an inanimate object, not an exotic animal.


So I asked to see a manager, and in about 35 seconds, max, I had my unleashed package, fresh from the holding pen, resting comfortably in my hand.


Yet, still unable to accept the blatantly obvious ethos of “OUR WHOLE COMPANY’S REASON FOR BEING IS TO GET THE CUSTOMER THEIR PACKAGE, AND WHEN WE DO THIS EARLY, IT’S A BONUS, NOT A VIOLATION,” typing furiously into the computer, the determined clerk said, “Rules are rules.”


At this point I actually took hold of my property trying to forestall what I envisioned as a harried footchase around the building — a last ditch attempt at keeping me from acquiring my item until the duly ordained appointed time.


Then I said, “Rules are made to be broken,” drumming my fingers across the top of the box.


Childish on my part?  Of course.  But let it never be said that I was unwilling to sink to a level lower than even the most plebian adversary!


Still, leaving the building with my possession, I also wondered, what is the motivation that moves a person behind the counter automatically into the role of opponent as opposed to partner?


How is it that silly rules can so easily eclipse foundational principles? 


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