Once upon a time, I worked for a company where one step of a job depended on another. Despite various checks along the way, if someone happened to make an error, there was some likelihood that the error would wend its way undiscovered through the system. It was like a chain that was difficult to break. In theory, mistakes should have been caught, and some certainly were, but once made, they sometimes escaped every possible check, and the wrong product would be manufactured.
I was recently reminded of the self-perpetuating nature of errors.
On January 04, I slipped and fell on ice hidden by a fresh fall of snow, and I blogged about it 8 days later. Ruth, in her comment, mentioned that the posties in her area used Yaktrax to fasten to their shoes when doing their winter routes. After a few days of humming and hawing, I ordered two pair, one each for Cuppa and me.
And the chain of errors began.
I ordered online, and while my payment went through with no problem, both neither actual order or my shipping address made it. That was the first mistake.
The company did have my email address, so they were able to contact me, whereupon I emailed the missing information … and made the second mistake. In a careless moment I gave them my old postal code from 5 years ago: a mistake that to my knowledge I hadn’t ever made. In my defense, let me claim that it was rather easy to do because the numbers of the past and present codes are exactly the same: same digits in the same order. The letters are different, but still …
Of course, I didn’t realize what I had done until I tracked the package only to discover that the parcel had been sent to Sarnia, our former town, on the other side of province. Tracking further revealed that it was immediately returned to Toronto, and I waited patiently for the mistake to be corrected. The address was correct after all. They only had to check and alter the postal code.
After a week of waiting and checking the tracking number to find that the thing hadn’t moved at all, I made inquiries to Canada Post who asked me to also have the shipper call them with the pertinent details from their end. When the shipper did that, they were told that it was too late — that the parcel was already on its way back to them — in Vancouver.
However, the company was very nice and promised me that they’d ship a second pair while they awaited for the first pair to be returned.
Two days later, the package arrived. I thought that they must have caught a tail wind for it to have made its way across country that quickly. Wrong. Mistake three had been made, for it was the original package that was delivered, not the second one. Canada Post hadn’t send it back to Vancouver after all but had corrected the error and shipped it to me. That was very nice of them, but we now had two parcels in play. The company advised me to refuse delivery on the second parcel, so that I wouldn’t have to pay return shipping.
The upshot is that almost five weeks after my fall, I was able to use the Yaktrax. I am able to report that they work pretty well, certainly gripping the snow much better then just boots. Unfortunately, I found that walking on hidden ice is still problematic. I didn’t fall, but I certainly slipped. Oh, I am quite convinced that the chains/trax will be better on ice than boots, but if one doesn’t know that it’s there and therefore adjust one’s gait, one will still slip.
Life isn’t easy.