Longtime reader Eddie Vidmar objected to my mention of a “fat guy with a white beard” in a column about holiday delivery woes.
“Hey, you did not have my permission to use me in your column.”
Good line. But Santa himself delivered an even better riff.
Bob: Oh sure. It’s always “the fat guy with the white beard” or “the fat guy with the red suit.” Never just “Santa.”
If you meant to say “Santa” in your column, just say it! I can take it.
Look, when you have one night to go all the way around the world, and you have to get every delivery exactly right, you don’t have time to stop for brunch with the boys, if you know what I mean. So I pack on a few extra pounds leading up to the big night.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: It all goes away in 24 hours. By Dec. 26, I am right back down to 185-190 pounds. Exhausting, but it works.
It also helps me in the offseason. Nobody is looking for a svelte Santa, so I can mix and mingle with boys and girls who are on the naughty-or-nice fence without them knowing who I really am.
(aka William Miller)
Santa: Good to know. I didn’t realize the North Pole Diet is considerably more effective than the South Beach Diet.
But I’d still rather be in South Beach. Does that make me naughty?
We interrupt this column for a brief commercial message.
Looking for an inexpensive Christmas gift? Your favorite columnist will be signing his new book, Blimp Pilot Terrorizes Akron, from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday at the newly renovated Acme Fresh Market on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls.
And now, back to our regular programming.
Last week’s tale about an unbelievably circuitous route taken by a UPS package brought a flood of email from people flabbergasted by some of the shipping paths taken by a UPS competitor, the USPS. Here’s one of them.
Bob: Now, I realize I am more than a little “geographically challenged.” My husband claims I can get lost backing out of our driveway. However, I do believe that there may be something wrong with the scenario I encountered recently when mailing a package to a friend.
My friend Dee Dee lives in Temple, Texas. We took the box to the Ellet station on Wedgewood Drive on Dec. 3 and were told it should arrive at the desired destination on Dec. 9, which I felt was a reasonable amount of time to get it down to one of our southern states.
One of the new perks from the post office is the tracking of packages, so I went online to see which southern state it would be dispatched to.
Much to my amazement, it was sent to a sorting facility in Federal Way, Wash. That’s right, Washington State — which, in my geographically challenged mind, seems to be north of Ohio and well north of the Lone Star State.
I would appreciate any insight you could give me as to why it took such a roundabout trip!
Mary: The reason your mail doesn’t always take a direct route is the same reason you sometimes fly from Cleveland to Cincinnati on your way to Boston.
Regional USPS spokesman David Van Allen explains via email.
“Packages are processed at various National Distribution Centers around the country. The NDCs are part of our system of highly automated processing facilities linked by a dedicated transportation network.
“Although it is an oversimplification, perhaps the best way to understand the system is to visualize it as a series of giant circles laid out across the nation with a NDC in each of those circles.
“Packages travel down the spokes to a hub (an NDC), where they are sorted and dispatched to other hubs around the nation. When packages get to the appropriate NDC, they are dispatched along the same spokes to the delivery post offices.
“This is far more efficient than it would be for each post office to exchange mail directly with thousands of other post offices.
“Another way to understand it is by considering airline hubs. People flying from one city to another frequently find themselves initially landing somewhere well outside the direct line of travel before arriving at their final destination.”
Maybe it’s time for Santa to hire a logistics expert.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com.