Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

Real People. Real Jobs. Real Adventures.

Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


A strange trend continues...

Posted 11/12/19 (Tue)

Back in the late ‘70s and right out of high school, I worked for a flax straw processor called Olin. We traveled to various communities and processed farmers’ straw to be made into Bible pages and cigarette papers of all things.

There was a period of about four months that we knew we were going to be working in Wishek so instead of staying in a hotel for four months, I rented a mobile home and then went to the post office and informed them I would like general delivery of my mail.

The post office staff in Wishek bent over backward to oblige and because I knew there were some letters coming my way, I stopped in the Wishek post office every two or three days and picked up the mail.

After we left Wishek and went to Kulm, my mail went back to Hazelton where I lived because the Kulm job took far less time.

People in Wishek and Kulm didn’t know who I was. By definition, I was a transient worker, but the post office wanted to make sure their customer service remained impeccable.

Fast forward 42 years and we don’t write letters any longer, or if we do, they are in a professional capacity. Email has taken over as the preferred method of keeping up with friends who have moved away.

We also don’t have the businesses on Main Street that we did in the 1970s so many of us have gone to ordering products from the Internet, myself included.

The largest majority of things I purchase online would be garden seeds. Because organic garden seeds are hard to find locally, I order them from various companies to get the varieties I want.

Unfortunately, for some reason, garden seed companies have a problem with my address.

Several companies’ websites tell me my physical address doesn’t exist, even though I’ve been living there for 13 years and GPS knows exactly where it is.

So, I put in my post office box number. The response; “We don’t ship to post office boxes.”

This went on for a long time, but I think those seed companies know me well enough now that they override their ridiculous computer protocol.

This past week, this situation really took on a whole new meaning. There is a multivitamin I take that is expensive to purchase in stores so, I did an Internet search to find a better deal.

I found one from the company that manufactures the vitamin. An order was placed and I got the same old garbage, they don’t ship to a post office box and the street address doesn’t exist.

OK, there’s always a plan B, right? I tried the order a third time to have it sent to my workplace and guess what, that address isn’t recognized either, but it’s in a community of 1,000 people and bundles of mail come here every day.

When I complained about this at work, it turns out the newspaper is having the same trouble with subscriptions.

There’s a lady in a small town in Montana who has been a subscriber for 42 years and has always lived at the same address.

Suddenly, her newspaper started coming back to the office as undeliverable for no apparent reason.

Why is this happening? What could have gone wrong since the fall of 1977 that would have caused this?

Who makes the decision to rule out my home address and my workplace address?

I’ve been told these companies use GPS to locate us so when I installed a new car stereo in my vehicle, I wanted to see if GPS actually worked because Fed Ex and UPS have both delivered some of my seed orders to the wrong address.

When I left Minot one day, I punched in my address to see where it would take me, to see if it would get me lost.

Guess what? It took me right to my driveway, so how can so many people get it so wrong?

I’d like to be able to trace this thing from my computer to one of those seed companies and back because there is obviously some issue along the way.

After that vitamin company decided they didn’t want my money, I sent them an email and said look, I’ve lived here 13 years and I know this is a legitimate address. Besides, the county’s emergency management team knows exactly where it is too, I checked with them.

The answer came back that their IT team is working on it.

Domino’s Pizza can deliver to a fish house on a lake with time and precision. How can they do that when others can’t recognize a legitimate address?