Life in our Mountain Town: Shopping by mail in Truckee |

Life in our Mountain Town: Shopping by mail in Truckee

For some of us, a move to Truckee means an increase in our catalog ordering.

I don’t know if it’s because we are slightly more housebound during the winter months than our suburban counterparts, or if it has to do with Truckee’s outpost location from major shopping, or that while we have great shopping downtown, we can’t always get what we want locally. At any rate, the end result of placing an order through a catalog or over the Internet is that within a few days, a UPS driver will turn up at your door, bringing you a package from a faraway merchant.

The neighborhood that I live in is serviced by a UPS driver named Randy, a very polite and friendly man who always calls me Mrs. Shaffer, even though I’ve asked him to call me by my first name. I’ve decided that perhaps his training by the efficient United Parcel Service doesn’t allow him to call me Katie.

I have a friend who hates to shop. Therefore, her regular method of shopping consists of flipping through catalogs while sitting comfortably in her home, picking up the telephone, placing orders, and then waiting for the UPS delivery person to bring her what she has ordered.

Another friend of mine loves to shop, in stores and through catalogs. She too gets regular deliveries throughout the year.

I consider myself an occasional catalog shopper. Sometimes I question whether purchasing through a catalog is the best way to shop, because if it turns out that you don’t like the item you’ve ordered, or that they’ve sent you the wrong item, returning is not always hassle-free. Still, this doesn’t seem to curb my catalog ordering habit too much.

A friend of mine who used to live in Sierra Meadows claims that her UPS delivery guy loaded up a backpack with packages, put on skis and skied to her front door to deliver Christmas gifts to her family one year. This sounds a little far-fetched. But she claims this really happened during a winter in the early 1980s.

Another friend of mine likes to recall a particular local UPS driver who would drive up to her house and honk his horn. I’m quite certain that this guy came to my house a few times as well. I’m not absolutely sure why he would sit out there honking his horn, but I think maybe he didn’t want to bother to hop out with a heavy package that required a signature, if you weren’t home.

Anyway, one afternoon when my friend was very pregnant, she heard a horn blowing outside her house. So she gingerly walked up her steep, icy driveway, and when she reached the street where the UPS truck sat, she asked the driver, “Aren’t you supposed to deliver to my door?”

I don’t believe this guy works for UPS anymore.

Another friend of mine knows that her dogs sometimes pose a problem for their UPS driver. One time she arrived home and found several packages sitting in the middle of her driveway. They looked as if they had been thrown half way up the driveway, and all she could imagine was that perhaps that’s as far as the driver could manage to deliver them before her dogs scared him off.

Just recently I watched as a UPS truck slowed down as it went past my driveway, and suddenly a dog biscuit was thrown towards my barking dog. Unfortunately the biscuit landed beyond our electric fence boundary, which drove my dog crazy until I walked outside and threw the treat further inside our yard for her. I’m not sure my dog equated the big brown truck with the tasty treat, but apparently one local UPS driver is trying to do some constructive planning-ahead.

I have one last story to relate, which involves my neighbors who used to have a golf cart that they sold to someone else in town. Shortly after they sold it, the golf cart somehow ended up in a ditch in someone’s yard. It was the UPS driver who was able to tell the man who suddenly had an overturned golf cart in his ditch that he was pretty sure he knew which family was the owner. Several phone calls were placed, and the golf cart was returned to its rightful owner.

Our local UPS drivers do seem to know us by more than just our name and address, and as this last story illustrates, they do far more than just deliver packages. These guys work in inclement weather and they deal with dogs that may not be friendly, and still they are amiable and courteous. I’m sure I am not alone in my appreciation of their diligence whether they are bringing me something I wanted or not.

Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.

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