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5 Reasons Packages Get Destroyed (Learned Working at UPS)

#2. Don't Send Envelopes

Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Up until now, it's all been about the hurried and sometimes indifferent human beings who fling your packages into the trucks. But much of the A to B movement of your precious shipment isn't done by hand; it spends a lot of that time shooting through a machine. Check out this video of a top-of-the-line sorting system:

At 1:00, you can see what happens when your stuff gets sucked up into the mechanism. If you didn't watch the video, the envelopes get pulled into the machine and wrapped around the equipment:


$500 worth of Grandma-bucks was just shredded.

Granted, that didn't look too bad, but the important things to remember here are 1) that's a video from the manufacturer of the machine making it look as gentle as possible and 2) that video shows a machine that is designed for envelopes. The system at UPS absolutely is not -- it's built with packages in mind.

The boxes ride belts, and metal arms go across at the right spot, directing them into the trailer. Every time one belt meets another, there is a chance an envelope can get stuck between the belts. When that happens, it's like tripping at the head of a stampede. There's nothing we can do for your envelope but say a quiet prayer and slosh a bit of our 40-ounce onto the warehouse floor.

Austin Calhoun
Steel Reserve is standard issue.

If you need to send a letter and email just won't do, put it in a box or use the Postal Service. Envelopes are their specialty, and the way things are over there right now, it'll probably get a truck all to itself.

#1. Don't Reuse Boxes

Brendan Smialowski / Stringer / Getty

So you've decided to reuse an old box for shipping. Look at you, all saving the environment and shit. I hope that makes you feel like a big man when the box of dildos you were mailing to your Canadian girlfriend wind up at your mom's for Christmas.

Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
"I need you to leave me alone with the gifts for seven minutes, and I need you to not ask why."

The problem is the old labels, and the fact that many, many of you forget to remove them. No, we have no way of knowing which is which -- when the packages tumble down to the sorters and loaders, if they see a label on whatever side of the box happens to be up, that's where the box is going.

If I do happen to notice that the box has two labels, I have to guess which one is the right one. I have maybe 30 seconds to make this decision. I usually go with the cleaner label, as I figure it's been through the system fewer times, making it newer. This is an easy way to solve the problem while giving zero fucks. But even then, there's no guarantee that your box will end up anywhere at all. If I'm in Missouri and I only see the label that says Arizona, that's where it's going. But say the guy in Arizona only sees the label that says it's going to Missouri. Theoretically, your package will just go back and forth forever until the recycled cardboard finally gives up and spills your Beanie Babies all over the dirty, dirty trailer. Tags will get ripped off.

Robert Sullivan / AFP / Getty
The ones that get through will spend their lives with survivor's guilt.

And it's even worse with the Postal Service, by the way. Did you know the Postal Service considers reusing their old Priority Mail boxes a federal goddamn crime? Much like manufacturing sawed-off shotguns or bathtub gin, stealing a used Priority Mail box from the trash is a short way to Uncle Sam's shit list. "Misuse of postal property" can land you up to three years in jail, but we're assuming the feds don't exactly have a task force dedicated to this.

If you don't like the environmental impact of buying a brand new box every time, well, the world is full of boxes -- just steal some from Walmart at 3 a.m. when they're stocking the shelves. None of the workers will care if you take them. In fact, at three in the morning, I doubt they'd care if you walked right out with a cash register under your arm. And seriously, get a cooler while you're at it.

Chris Hondros / Getty
Maybe some bull semen, too.

Robert Evans is Cracked's head of Dick Joke Journalism and writes many of the captions you enjoy each day. You can contact him here.


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