Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
1 Timothy 4:15
Imagine a black plastic box, 1 foot by 2 ½ feet by 4 feet, weighing 55 pounds and worth about $2,000. It has wheels on one end and a handle on the other. In your car, it occupies the entire back seat at an angle. You have to turn it sideways to fit it through doorways.
Now imagine you want to transport this ungainly thing across the country at Christmas time. You first start basic, thinking of the obvious options:
US Post Office
On the airplane with you
So you check their web sites, which all handily give estimates based on values you input. You use their nifty estimators and obtain the following values:
UPS Ground: $82.28 (est. 5 day delivery)
FedEx Home Delivery: $63.87 (est. 5 business days)
US Post Office Parcel Post: $127.24 (7 days; ominous red note, “additional postage may apply”)
On the airplane with you: $75 oversize fee (with you, assuming luggage isn’t lost or broken in transit)
Naturally, you decide to go to the nearest FedEx shipment center for an in-person estimate. You have high hopes of shipping this for less than it would cost to schlep it along on the plane; besides, you aren’t sure how you’ll fit three people, luggage for two, and this package in your car for the drive to the airport. At the FedEx/Kinko’s store, two nice employees help you heft your gigantic box onto their scale. They explain that they will have to look inside the box (which sports six huge clasps plus padlocks you just added for extra safety) in order to be sure it’s not already in pieces. Before you open the box up, though, they pull out a tape measure and enter the box’s values into their computer; they then announce that it will cost $116 and change to ship this box.
You leave. One of the nice employees holds the door for you and helps you heft the box back into your back seat.
The next day, you check a local UPS Package store, thinking that $80 doesn’t sound so bad, comparatively. Alas, their online estimator also lied, and the real person behind the counter announces that it would cost $130 for you to ship the box with them. You leave again, sadly resigning yourself to dragging the huge box along with you on the long flight to Seattle.
Chatting at work the next day, you mention to a coworker that you need to somehow transport this box across the country without breaking the bank in the process. Your coworker immediately suggests Greyhound (you hide your bafflement) and explains that his brother’s hobby involves scavenging parts from Dodge Chargers rusting in junk yards and selling the parts on eBay (you hide your confused/amused astonishment). This brother apparently has shipped car doors cheaply with Greyhound. You make agreeable noises and check the Greyhound web site:
Greyhound: $61.40 (3 days, 8 hours, 50 minutes)
You have a few reservations, namely that Greyhound only lets you insure up to $300; besides, you have to get the box to a Greyhound station, and then finagle an unsuspecting family member to retrieve it on the other end. You don’t want your valuable package sitting around waiting to be stolen at a Greyhound station. While discussing the pros and cons of Greyhound versus dragging the darn thing on the airplane with your husband, he points out that you forgot to check DHL:
DHL: $46.10 (by end of 7th day)
You get all excited, even more so when you realize that a DHL drop-off location exists less than two miles from your work. That evening you take the box to the DHL office (after no small amount of trouble finding the place in the dark) and, after insuring the package for a full $2,000, pay a total of just less than $60 to ship it. You feel lighthearted and triumphant all evening, having successfully avoided paying more than $75 for shipping the box and, better yet, having avoided hauling that huge piece of luggage to a busy airport at a busy time of year.
Success, which requires receiving the box with its contents totally unharmed, has yet to be determined. Yet the victory is sweet.