Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The ice cream truck does parcel delivery

In the recent post The Greedtocracy: Deutsche Post goes from civil service to day labor, we gave a brief description of how the German postal service went from government agency to a freewheeling transportation and logistics behemoth that uses day labor to the tune of roughly 10 000 full time equivalent jobs.

But there's more: subcontractors, some of them a mere freezer truck away from our own US parcel service experience.

For a small company in SomeWhereUSA that ships physical goods to all 50 states, shipping costs add up. So, one day, the boss announced we were trying out a second supplier in addition to the household name company we had been using exclusively.

A few days later, Janice from Accounting (that's a John Oliver, Last Week Tonight, reference, sorry) tells us a pickup is scheduled for around 2 pm today.  Around the announced time, a frozen food delivery truck pulls into the street and backs up to our loading door.

While we were wondering if the owner had experienced a bout of generosity, the driver has gotten out and is standing in front of us.

I'm here to pick up parcels for Hey-you-Ship-it-and-we-might-deliver-your-crap.

One of us goes to see Janice, the one from Accounting, and the driver explains that he is doing shipping jobs for Hey-you-Ship-it-and-we-might-deliver-your-crap in addition to his frozen food delivery contract work.

Don't worry, I turned the freezer unit off, he reassures us a Jorge comes back from Janice and confirms that this is indeed our new shipping service operator.

The following week, a rust bucket former utility company van - you could still make out the outlines of the removed logo - is our driver.

The subsequent week, someone else.

We begin to make jokes about what kind of vehicle would show up next.

Everybody's favorite is, there's no surprise there, a hearse.

Sadly, no hearse ever shows up.

This experience came to mind when we started paying attention to the delivery vehicles around the countryside.

The bright yellow vans of Deutsche Post/DHL stand out, but it was the others we found fascinating. The old vans with faded colors, with drivers without uniforms, are everywhere these days.

They do have one or two small yellow stickers on the side and on the back saying they operate for Deutsche Post.

The stickers are not, as you might hope, an acknowledgement of the hard work of subcontractors.

Far from it.

They are the only way Deutsche Post can get companies to hand over parcels to folks who may speak hardly any German and arrive in a decrepit van.

The Germans can be hard to convince of advancements.

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