In a previous posting, Yesterday's Word, I talked about my great hope to make some bucks on eBay by selling off my ancient copy of Microsoft Word Version 1.00. That day arrived last weekend, and my hopes were dashed when it only sold for a paltry $20.49.
I took it to the post office after work the other day to bid it goodbye and ship it to its new owner. In spite of my sadness, I was in an uncharacteristically good mood when I handed the package over to the lady behind the counter and asked to ship it via media mail.
"Is there anything liquid, fragile or perishable in the container?" Asked the clerk.
"No," I replied.
"Does the package contain any hazardous material?" She inquired.
"Well," I said with a puckish grin, "it does contain Microsoft Word. Some people would argue that it's pretty dangerous.
"Microsoft Word?" She frowned and said "That's not media! You'll have to send it parcel post."
"No way," I countered. "It's a software manual and the installation disk on a 5.25-inch floppy. That's media!"
"No it isn't," she replied condescendingly.
I asked her to show me the rules, and she pulled out this big sheet and read from it.
Media Mail is used for books, film, manuscripts, printed music, printed test materials, sound recordings, play scripts, printed educational charts, loose-leaf pages and binders consisting of medical information, videotapes, and computer-recorded media like CDs and diskettes. Media Mail cannot contain advertising.
"What you have is not media," she said dryly.
"Yes, it is!" I said in my most authoritative tone, which was perhaps underpinned with a touch of exasperation. "This is a software manual in a three-ring binder, with the installation software. You can go to any bookstore and buy a computer book with a CD in the back."
At this point, the lady in the stall next to her told her not to argue with me. "Alright!" I thought to myself. "Someone who understands the meaning of customer service -- and media mail."
But then she added "Just stamp it Postage Due and send it that way." Which my clerk promptly did.
I was dumbstruck. No way was I intentionally going to send some one's eBay winnings Postage Due. I wasn't going to win this round, so I caved. "Okay," I said. "Send it Parcel Post."