15.8 Million Stories by Lorena Rodriguez
On average, the United Parcel Service ships 15.8 million packages per day. That’s 15.8 million stories of where the package came from and where it is going (Foxman, 2012). 15.8 million ways that the person or company has taken great care to pack and ship an item that is important to them. Other major companies such as FedEx and the United States Postal Service also process millions of pieces per day adding to the millions of stories that travel across the world every day. Using proper packaging materials, temperature control if it is needed, and a generous amount of thought there is no limit as to where those stories can go.
Look at the story of the nine-year-old girl in Florida who hears about a campaign at school to send items to soldiers overseas. Always known for having a caring heart, she decides to take part in the campaign. The items that she sends are simple, but everything is packaged and sent with great care. She decides to send sets of lip balm, playing cards, toothbrushes, and sheets. With the help of her mom, she takes a few extra steps to make sure that everything arrives in good condition. In addition to the packaging it came with, she puts all items in zip lock bags to protect them from any dirt or sand. The zip lock bags will also serve as a good way for soldiers to store personal items. She takes some time to write a handwritten note on patriotic paper thanking the soldier for her service. Now, no one can resist the chance to pop some bubble wrap. After taking a small strip to play with, she wraps some bubble wrap around the Ziploc bags for good measure and some extra cushion. A list of all sent items is also included that way the soldier who receives the package will know that everything arrived as it was supposed to. Finally, she carefully creates the shipping label complete with the soldiers rank and full name. Then she includes an extra shipping label inside the box in case the one on the outside were to be damaged (Military Benefits). The items and handwritten note are a simple gesture, but they remind a soldier that someone back home is thinking of them and appreciates them.
Moving across the country to California, there is the young man in his twenties who has made himself a business selling vintage items on eBay. A major finds this year has been old locomotive trains. He has spent a great time and cares at local flea markets and estate sales finding the treasures. Before he ships, he takes great care to store them at a moderate temperature, humidity, and of course away from direct sunlight. Once they sell, he takes great care in shipping them to make sure that they arrive safely to the customer. Each train car is packed separately in the box it came in and then surrounded by shipping peanuts. When the original box is not available, they are loosely wrapped in bubble wrap to avoid any bubble prints appearing on the locomotives (Lionel Collectors Club of America). Each locomotive is packaged with extra shipping peanuts for support and sealed with packing tape in a sturdy box. This detailed process allows collectors to buy new train sets for their home or for older generations to be reunited with a favorite toy from childhood.
Now move to the young lady and her grandpa in Texas. His 93rd Birthday is coming up, and she wants to send him the perfect gift while she is away at university. Decades ago, he immigrated to the United States from the Philippines with the aim to make a better life for his family. Now retired, his family members are his greatest joy. As he has been going through a difficult time recently with the death of his wife, she wants to give him something to honor and remember her grandmother. She decides on making her beloved grandmother’s mango ice cream recipe with the fresh fruit and her ice cream maker. She wants to make something as authentic as possible to remind him of how far he has come. Once the ice cream is made, she packs the ice cream into a tin and loads it into a Styrofoam ice chest. Then she adds some dry ice and plenty of shipping peanuts into the cooler. She wraps the ice chest with packing tape before loading it into a cardboard box. Next, she faces a challenge. She wants the ice cream to be as fresh, still frozen upon opening, and she wants the package to arrive as soon as possible. It more than worth it for her to pay overnight shipping and clearly label it as perishable on the shipping label (Blue Bell Creameries, 2018). During a birthday gathering with the rest of his family, the gentlemen find a box at the front door. The young lady had asked her mom to videotape her grandpa opening the box, and the look on his face when he discovered the thoughtful gift made it all worthwhile. The video is now a moment she will be able to cherish forever.
With each scenario, there are three different individuals in different walks of life, but each with a unique story. They all demonstrate that each of the millions of packages that are shipped in the United States every day is more than packages; they are a little piece of a journey. Particularly, today sending or receiving a package is something that nearly everyone in the United States can relate to. While the technical aspects of shipping like proper temperature, wrapping for the package, clearly labeling and a sturdy box are incredibly important, there is another factor that plays a role. The time and thought that are put into the package create the millions of stories that are the true heart of the packing and shipping industry.