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You are waiting for a package from UPS. You are terribly excited about this package because it contains headlights that the good German engineers intended your car to have when the Italian designer designed it a couple of decades ago. In this car we get the best, at the time, of a cross-cultural affair of Italian design and German engineering. The designer was so pleased with himself that he still owns one of those cars.

But your car doesn’t have those European headlights because the US Department of Transportation thought they knew better than the Germans and an Italian, but only a non-engineer, non-designer idiot bureaucrat mucks about with German engineering and Italian design. There might even be a Geneva Convention against the practice. This was in the mid-80s, and if you remember American cars in the mid-80s, you know what a dismal period in American automotive history that was. So, instead of lovely headlights that actually light up the road at night and look like they belong on the car, the US DOT required the manufacturer to install ugly headlights that light up the road about as far as you can spit from the driver’s seat. Not only are the DOT headlights inferior with respect to lighting, they are not the same size as the European headlights, requiring the fitment of plastic pieces to fill up the resultant gaps. Those plastic gap-fillers fool no one.

Because you are impatient, you frequently check the UPS tracking page because who doesn’t love to receive packages? You convince yourself that maybe UPS was kidding and are hoping to see a Psych! It’s really coming today! We were just messing with you! The Web site, however, does not demonstrate a playful sense of humor and sticks with its original pronouncement that the package is due to arrive on November 13 because it is coming from a location diagonally across the country from you. You convince yourself to grow up and wait the few days until then.

Upon waking on the 13th you check the status of the package with the eagerness of a long-haul trucker pulling into a Hooters after a three-day slog through the Bible Belt. All is right with the world: Your package is “In transit and on-time for a scheduled delivery of November 13.” At noon it is not here, but not to worry because sometimes the UPS guy comes in the afternoon. It is not here when you leave at 2:30, so surely it will be waiting for you when you get back home. There is no happy package waiting for you at 4:30 when you arrive back home. You leave the house again at 6:30 and still no package. Or at 10:00 when you return home again, when it has become even more clear that your US-spec headlights blow and Captain OCD asks, “You have your brights on? When a car is coming?” Yes, because even with the high beams on, the oncoming car is thinking that you took the owner’s manual specification for candle power literally.

It’s late, but you check the tracking page. Again, as you have 28 times already. The notice stating that it arrived at a UPS center an hour-and-a-half away from you on the 12th at 1:51 AM has not given up its status as the head of the list, but the “on time for a scheduled delivery of November 13” has bailed, leaving “In Transit” to take all the blame. So you call UPS, knowing that these people do not want to talk to you. You know this because about 49 times on the phone there is a pleasant woman’s voice telling you that everything you need to know is on their Web site, after which she helpfully gives you the URL. Because, of course, you are too stupid to know that there is package trackage available on the emails. When you respond to the voice prompts off-script with statements like, “Help me please!,” “Nooooo,” and “Can I pretty-please talk to someone?” the friendly voice finally says, “Okay, I’ll let you talk to someone, if you insist, but you do know, as I’ve already told you, that no one has any more information than what is on the tracking page of our Web site. That is the latest available information. We have spent a lot of time and even more money developing that system: Perhaps you’ve seen the documentary about the awesomeness of our tracking system on The Discovery Channel? If so, you are already well-aware that you will be wasting both your and our time. But, by all means, please hold for a moment.”

Know this: She is paid to LIE to you. You know this because you disregard the warnings of wasted time and persevere until a nice person answers your polite plea. You try to save time by preempting the part of her script that says, “Did you know that you can track a package on our Web site . . .” by calmly asking her if she can help you find the package that is not here and not showing on the Web page that you are looking at right at this moment. After apologizing by proxy, she will tell you that she does not know where your package is and, again, she is terribly sorry about that. And then she will let slip that the last thing she sees is that it was unloaded at 7:49 PM. At the same place it arrived seventeen hours and 58 minutes earlier. It is not her fault that the package-tracking Web page committed a lie of omission by failing to note the 7:49 PM entry, or the collusion in the lie by the voice on the telephone answering system, so you thank her for her time and tell her you will follow her advice and check again in the morning. Because, really, were you going to install those headlights tonight?