Saturday, June 15, 2019

Still Life with Robin: Follow That Truck!

UPS Truck photo by Qualle (Creative Commons)
by Peggy Robin

For some time I’ve been enrolled in various delivery service tracking programs. I’m in the US Postal Service’s “Informed Delivery” program [], that sends me an email every morning with scanned images of all the US mail I can expect to have delivered to me later that day. It’s been fairly accurate and useful. And I have a FedEx account that tells me if I’ll be getting a FedEx package – and where the FedEx person will leave it. That certainly helps to prevent package theft. But the service I like the best is UPS My Choice []. I’ve had it the longest, and it keeps getting better and better. 

Just this morning, UPS announced a new wrinkle: Now, when I get an email from UPS to let me know to expect a package delivery, it asks me if I would like to go to a map and see where the delivery truck at this very moment. 

You bet I would! Click, click, and I’m right there on the map. There is an icon representing my house, shown so big that it looks as if it takes up about 500 acres of Ward 3. And there is the icon of the UPS delivery truck, shown as about the same size as my house. It was out in Prince Georges County when I first clicked on the map about 15 minutes ago. Now it’s in Northeast DC. In addition to the map with icons for my house and the truck, the map shows the outlines of DC with all the major routes marked, and a few neighborhood names included as well. You can zoom in and get as much detail as you like. The only thing you can’t get that I would love to see is the real-time movement of the little cartoon truck through traffic. I want to see it chug-chug-chug along the map, just like the Little Engine That Could! But you can’t have everything.

As soon as I finished typing this, I refreshed the page and the truck was approaching Connecticut Avenue from S Street to the east. There’s also a sidebar with a progress line that moves from “On the Road” to “In Your Area” to “Almost There!”. The truck is now in the “In Your Area” Zone. The Anticipation Builds!

I have an estimated delivery time….well, it’s a four-hour window, which they certainly will make. If I like, I can click on a link to manage my delivery options and send a message to the driver with instructions about where to put the package, or have them hold it and redeliver it another time.

This is all rather entertaining for a package of miscellaneous but-hard-to-find kitchen supplies!

The only thing that could make it more exciting is to be able to track the progress of a delivery drone. But that’s just a matter of time, so I've been told.

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. 

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