Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Finding Pugsley

Well, the saga continues. Today I had both my mom (who is much better at wading through the murk of corporate America than I am) and NPR's Bryant Park Project lobbying FedEx on my behalf. They both received a version of the same runaround I was getting yesterday, except for today the customer service people added bad weather as a reason packages didn’t go out earlier. I wanted to tell them that I live in Juneau - if the weather was too bad this week for flying, that must be the case 348 days out of the year. When the radio host told them she was from NPR, the customer service agent reacted by saying, “We don’t respond to threats.”

I dropped back into the Juneau office again later this morning to play their own weather argument against them - if the bike’s still in Juneau, I said, I want it back. The woman at the desk made a call, chatted for a bit and then said to the person she was speaking with, “Yeah, that’s probably her. I probably have her right here.” Then she cupped her hand over the mouthpiece and said, “Are you the woman with the bicycle?” I nodded. I already had my tirade mapped out. I was ready to unleash when she got off the phone and said, “There’s really nothing we can do. We don’t know exactly where your package is. But if it went out Monday as you said, it really should be scanned into the Anchorage system by Friday.” Maybe FedEx is a good shipping company. I don’t know. Their customer service is sure terrible.

I’d like to believe Pugsley will be in Anchorage by Friday, but I have no real reason to optimistic about that. The package is literally off the radar, and probably has been since the moment I dropped it off. I am not without options, however. There is a bike shop in Anchorage that actually offers race-ready Pugsley rentals, at a special Ultrasport price that is nearly half what I spent on my own Pugsley in the first place (and these bikes may or may not be available this close to the event.) There also appears to be some benevolent souls in the core Anchorage winter cycling group that may be willing to lend me a bicycle. I don’t have a definite replacement lined up yet, but I am at least a few steps on the optimistic side of just going out and buying a pair of snowshoes and a sled. Either way, I’m showing up at this race. I am not going to let FedEx be the challenge that beats me.

I spent a lot of emotional currency on this problem yesterday, and felt a bit guilty about indulging my stress to such an extreme. After all, unexpected and even potentially catastrophic hiccups are just part of running the Iditarod. At the same time, if I have no bicycle, I have no race. So why should I conserve my emotional state? But working through all that negativity and panic and outright despondence has actually been cathartic. It has helped me clear my head of other building stresses and look more clearly into the big picture. This morning, I was trying on a new pair of socks that finally arrived yesterday, two weeks late (via UPS), which I let sit in their unopened package all day because, “If I don’t even have a race, why do I need socks?” But as I pulled on the warm wool socks this morning, I felt this rush of confidence. “Finally,” I thought, “My armor is complete.” I’m ready to go to battle. Steed or no steed. Firm trail or soft trail. Come what may.