He Says/She Says: Tracking Shipments

He Says/She Says: Tracking Packages

In the He Says/She Says series, we discuss financial-ish topics where we agree to disagree.

I don’t know when the “Track Shipment” functionality was introduced to our glorious Interwebs. But if I had the authority to grant holidays in this great land, that day of inception would be forever celebrated. Everyone would revel in the streets at the marvel of following a package from doorstep-to-doorstep. Well… almost everyone.

You see, Joanna isn’t very impressed with shipment tracking. It means nothing to her that she can pinpoint the location of our next shipment of diapers in Louisville, KY. It means nothing to her when the long awaited “Out for Delivery” status appears. It all just means nothing to her. But why? Where does this illogical logic stem from? Here’s some really riveting back-and-forth between us last night.

“It doesn’t make it get here any faster, you know?”
“It’s pretty much proven that it gets to you faster when you follow its progress. Because science.”
“I just figure it’s going to get to me.”
“Until it doesn’t. All because you neglected to see the package hadn’t moved from the Toledo, Ohio processing plant for three days. Weekdays.”
“This conversation is sad. I’m sad for you.”
“Your package from Amazon will be here today.”

I will gladly admit that I find joy in knowing where my package is located. Much of that joy stems from what’s inside of that cardboard box. Steve Jobs’ biography. Dress socks. Bear paw meat handler forks. Knowing when to anticipate the arrival of your order makes coming home from work on a Tuesday afternoon a whole lot more exciting.

The other novelty of it all is seeing the delivery services’ intricacies and logistics at work. I’ve remarked before that what the postal system does at the cost they do it is freaking mindblowing and something most of us likely take for granted. To watch your package move from region to state to counties to cities to trucks, all in a matter of days, is an amazing feat. How more things don’t get lost in the system is beyond me.

And while Joanna likes to scoff at my daily tracking check-ins, she’s got a dusting of hypocrisy on her hands. Sometime in the last year, she secretly signed up for text alerts from Amazon that let her know when her order ships and another when it arrives on our doorstep. So clearly there’s some benefit to knowing the timetable. She’ll be pasting 15-digit tracking codes into Google in no time.

Are you a born tracker like me, or do you feel apathetic about it like Joanna does? In other words, would the neanderthal-you have been a natural tracker of animal herds during hunter-gatherer days? Or would you have been content to live off nuts and berries like Joanna?

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Elle April 17, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I’m a tracker too! We use Amazon for many of our household items like cat litter, diapers, and cat food. I get a kick out of seeing where the packages are as they make it to our place.

    • Reply Johnny April 17, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      Ditto! We got hooked on it while we were living in NYC and Boston because it was such a hassle to haul 20lb. cat litter and cat food boxes from the grocery/pet store. And it was cheaper. And it meant I could track something. 🙂

  • Reply Roo // NEON FRESH April 17, 2013 at 7:51 am

    I live for “out for delivery.” Three favorite words.

    • Reply Johnny April 17, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      I thought it was Gmail’s “No new mail!” So archiving an “Out of Delivery” email that results in inbox zero would probably short circuit your brain.

  • Reply Carrie April 17, 2013 at 8:12 am

    How can you go on with your life having no idea where a package is in the process?! Ignorance is not bliss in this scenario. : ) I primarily order things for Christmas around Dec. 15th, so timing really does matter to me. The other few times I order things it is just the excitement of knowing it has left the warehouse, oooh,now it’s in Virginia! On the other hand, I still get a little excited when the mail comes every day so I may not be the best person to ask.

    • Reply Johnny April 17, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      Hahaha. I get excited about the mail coming, too! I remembered being excited about getting credit card offers and junk mail addressed to me because it meant I finally someone with a name and address. It sounds stupid now, but that was a coming-of-age moment.

  • Reply Elvin Peria April 17, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Hi Johnny, I am also a tracker. I am amazed how the parcel moved from location to location. It gives me an idea when can I expect it to arrive. Not only that, my over-thinking mind even computes for the efficiency of a certain warehouse as compared to the other warehouses. Geeky me.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:00 am

      Those computations sound right up my alley. And we all know that geeks end up with all the money and good-looking girls in the end. 🙂

  • Reply Emory April 17, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I have been known to track the process of important packages I have sent somewhere. Just because I feel some responsibility if it doesn’t get to the destination. But to be honest, I don’t check on packages coming my way. I kind of feel like they will get here and if they don’t then it’s not on me. I will be the sad voice on the other end of the phone line wondering what happened.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:03 am

      That’s another great example. Joanna sent a birthday gift once and asked weeks later if the recipient received her gift. Nope. It had been returned to sender. Just another reason why life’s better as a tracker.

  • Reply Rob April 17, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Well lad, I’m in your camp on this one, being the highly organized retired IT nerd that I am, who tracks the rising of tides and the setting of suns each and every day of the year – but I digress ! 🙂

    Actually though I can see both your’s and Joanna’s points of view. I bet that you’re the back office type who manages the accounting details in your life (as am I). And I bet that, like me, you’re also a type A person, as is our super achiever daughter. Whereas, I bet that Joanna is the front office marketing type, the one who disregards small details but focuses on the big picture, the end result, much like my wife and our laid-back (yet also successful) son, both of whom are type B peeps.

    In other words, you and Joanna perfectly compliment each other’s contrasting personalities, as do my wife and I. Familiarity breeds contempt while variety is the spice of life. 🙂

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:08 am

      You pegged me (and Joanna) spot on. When I took a career test in college, the results recommended I become a lawyer or a librarian. So type A + organized personality is an understatement. 🙂

      Like you and the Mrs., we enjoy yinning each other’s contrasting personality yang.

  • Reply Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle April 17, 2013 at 9:49 am

    As for your scientific reasoning ” It’s pretty much proven that it gets to you faster when you follow its progress. Because science” that point is disproven by the old adage a watched pot never boils.

    I find tracking makes the process feel slower. The package seems to leave the warehouse quickly but then they seem to get bogged down for hours or days in some city that is no where near the warehouse and my house.

    Waiting for my delivery of a Levar Burton robotic action figure this morning but it is still somewhere in Kansas and that is very far from my part of Canada.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:11 am

      I actually watched a pot of water boil tonight. Funny you mentioned that. And again, sad on my part. 🙂

      The reason why you haven’t received your package is because I hijacked it and now have it in my possession. Sorry. And if there’s such thing as a Levar Burton robotic action figure, my mind is blown.

  • Reply julie April 17, 2013 at 10:24 am

    This reminds me, I have to check on my new iPhone screen protector….

    …. Crap; still on the west coast. Tracking number, why do you taunt me?!

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:16 am

      Ughh, sorry. Sometimes rolling the tracking number dice on Google is frustrating. Here’s to hoping those things get moving tomorrow.

  • Reply Brian April 17, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I track a lot of packages because somehow I ended up being the guy with the FedEx and UPS account for the team I work on. Since we just finished shipping out 327 PCs/Monitors I had to be a little more anal than usual about it.

    In my personal life I check on my packages every so often since I have a habit of buying things from other countries.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:19 am

      327 PCs/monitors? Sounds easy. Kidding.

      Out of curiosity, what are you buying from out of country?

      • Reply Brian April 18, 2013 at 7:41 am

        I purchased lots of Hurleys and other goods from Ireland. My friends over also buy me some of the snacks I love but can’t find here and I pay for the postage. We also have our friends in Germany send us sweet mustard and the occasional beer stein from Oktoberfest. In return we send them Mountain Dew (they can get it in a couple places but it is waaaaay expensive) and cocktail sauce from a local steak house (it was feature on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate) which is really good.

        We have some weird habits…

        • Reply Johnny April 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

          That’s right, you’ve got your hurling obsession (which is awesome, by the way). So basically what you’re telling me is that I need to make friends with more Europeans so I can get hooked up with awesome food. I like that on the receiving end it’s Mt. Dew. America’s got to have something better than that to offer, right?

  • Reply debtperception April 17, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Definitely a tracker. I currently live in an area where it’s highly likely that someone would steal a package left at my door so I like to know when it arrives so I can make sure I’m home to receive it. Also, it’s sometimes fun to marvel at how a package, shipped on the very same day with the very same delivery option, coming from AZ to VA arrives two days before a package coming from NC to VA or why that package went from NC to MD then to VA.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:21 am

      I like the way you think! We actually had a few issues in Boston with packages never making it to our door, but Amazon is amazing in those situations and always took care of us.

  • Reply David April 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I am a born tracker. I likely have every single web business and package tracking company in my IPhone and when companies like Amazon miss deadlines (especially Prime), I require them to compensate me. Last year, i got prime for free by checking every package from Amazon!

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:23 am

      That’s awesome! I’ve never even thought about holding companies’ feet to the fire if/when they miss a deadline. Most of our mail orders are from Amazon, and I think they’ve only wronged us once. But that’s a great tip worth remembering should it happen again. Thanks!

      • Reply David Isser April 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        Haha anytime. Another way to think about it is they are offering you a service and are not fulfilling their obligation. Therefore, you are entitled to a refund. Imagine if you went to McDonalds and ordered a Big Mac and they gave you a Fish Sandwich… You’d be entitled to the same refund IMO.

  • Reply My Financial Independence Journey April 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I’m a born tracker. It’s in my blood. I track finances, workouts, my weight, my calories, my packages. If I can measure it, I’ll track it. I think that’s some kind of a psychological disorder, but I haven’t checked the DSM to make sure.

    My packages always wind up in Louisville too! Maybe our packages said “hi’ to each other and had a little party.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:30 am

      Yeah, I’ll probably just avoid looking at whatever the DSM has to say about me. Ignorance is alright by me. 🙂 And I’m sure those bear claw meat handlers would party pretty hard with your packages.

  • Reply Holly April 17, 2013 at 11:54 am

    “This conversation is sad. I’m sad for you.”- Crack me up!!!
    I admit it though, I’m a tracker too. Love to click that tracking number link…

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:40 am

      That 15-digit number is too hard to resist. I click it even when it tells me that it won’t have any info for at least 24-hours. It’s my digital crack.

  • Reply Stephen at SE April 17, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Didn’t realize there was a whole legion of born trackers! I tend to follow my items through the process too! But I realize that I tend to track almost everything else in my life so I suppose this makes sense. My wife doesn’t really care about tracking unless she is expecting something to give away.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:42 am

      My tracking tendencies are definitely rooted in my organizational and other tracking habits. So it fit right in with my other OCD habits.

  • Reply Chris April 17, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I track usually. A friend of mine doesn’t track because he will forget he ordered something and get it in the mail as a surprise. He says it’s like getting a present. I recently ordered some stuff through groupon, and I haven’t looked at it once…until today.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:45 am

      Sorry that this post broke your no-track streak and willpower. Since we do Amazon Prime, we get our packages shipped in 2-days, so it’d be hard to “forget” and think it’s a surprise.

  • Reply Beth Sheridan April 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Oh I LOVE to track my packages and I’m quite upset when they don’t come with a tracking number! I think this may lead to another one of my “I’m a control freak” issues 🙂

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:47 am

      The first step is admitting the problem. I’ll start.

      Hello, everyone. My name’s Johnny. And I’m a control freak.

  • Reply Byron April 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    First of all, love everything about your guys’ blog. Keep up the great work.

    I myself am a tracker like you Johnny. It’s like this: if a stork is delivering your baby, are you going to trust it to get to your doorstep or are you going to track that sucker with a GPS and make sure he isn’t stopping by for a stroll in the park on the way? Same situation, obvi…I kid I kid :), but I guess I am not a big fan of surprises and leaving it to the forces that be. And that means I will be a neurotic tracker for life…I might need to get this checked out.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:48 am

      Thanks for the comment, Byron!

      Pretty much the exact same situation. In face, we got our Baby Girl from Amazon’s Stork Prime program. 😉

  • Reply Melissa April 17, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I love tracking stuff! I use an app called Shiprack that automatically tracks packages, and notifies me of updates to tracking. You can forward emails to them to add them automatically to the app, or you can add them manually. It’s awesome.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 12:49 am

      Looking it up now. Sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Reply Mindy C April 17, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I’m with Joanna with this one. There are a gazillion notes/ reminders about things to think about. The packages arrive when they arrive!

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 1:42 am

      But these aren’t just any notes/reminders! These are tracking notifications!… Fine, fine, join Joanna’s side.

  • Reply jrm April 17, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Tracker! Only because I think I’m slightly fascinated by logistics in general. Plus sometimes the package peeps throw the boxes over the 8-foot block fence onto my patio rather than gently placing at the front door. I love when they play package javelin Oh So Much (sarcasm). So it helps to know if it is supposed to have been delivered, that I should start looking for it out on the patio. Not that the patio is that large but there are lots of nooks and crannies out there and duh package!

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 1:48 am

      Duh package is exactly right! And those delivery folks should be more careful. I’d be even more antsy about getting my package if I was worried whatever inside had the potential of being damaged during package javeline.

  • Reply Grayson @ Debt Roundup April 17, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I will track the crap out of a package. When I was running my business, I had to know where items were. I always tracked every package that left my shipper. I found some get stuck, so I would fix the problem before the recipient even knew about it. Tracking a package is awesome. I just gotsta know where my package is.

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 1:54 am

      Yeah, I didn’t even address packages that are outbound. That’s a great call. And I always try to screengrab a shot of the delivery info in the event a buyer from eBay tries to claim the item never arrived. Better safe than sorry with that stuff.

  • Reply Sarah L April 17, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Wow! A lot of trackers on here, but I have to agree with Joanna on this one. Unless I’m under some sort of time crunch for the package, I order it and try to forget about it. Now, imagine my surprise when a package arrives on my doorstep addressed to moi!! It’s like my birthday every time! (I admit my nonchalance has backfired a time or two when a package hasn’t arrived on time, but for the most part it works out fine.)

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 2:10 am

      I’m pretty terrible with surprises, so I usually try to figure out what Joanna’s going to get me for my birthday. Which is why I’d rather track what’s coming and when it’ll get it here. Although if I ever did stumble into a lot of money, I’d probably hire someone to just ship me random packages every week. That’d be worth every penny.

  • Reply Diane April 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    I must admit that I’ve also signed up for text alerts from Amazon to be notified of shipment & delivery times. BUT I don’t go online to track my packages, unless I’m waiting for something critical and I’m leaving town. I have Amazon Prime and I’ve never had a package late or missing!

    If I order from someone other than Amazon, I might check if it seems to take longer than I expected. I’d rather order from Amazon if at all possible!

    • Reply Johnny April 18, 2013 at 2:12 am

      We’re totally with you on the Amazon train. And I will admit that Amazon Prime has sucked some of the fun out of tracking shipments. It’s just too darn predictable and consistently on-time! I guess that’s a good problem to have.

  • Reply Jennifer @ Money Aches April 18, 2013 at 2:32 am

    I a bit in the middle. I don’t track things unless I need them now but even then I don’t do it right away. If something says it takes 3-5 days and I don’t receive it on day 3 then I start tracking it. If it arrives on or before day 3 it is a bonus for me.

    • Reply Johnny April 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      When we were living in NYC, we ordered something on Amazon a little after noon for their normal prime shipping (2 days). Just as I was leaving the next morning, I heard a knock at the door. It was our package. At our house. Less than 24 hours. We were kinda freaked out, but talk about a bonus.

  • Reply Heidi April 18, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I will have to agree with Joanna that no, staring at the FedEx website will not make your package travel any faster, but watching it go through checkpoints is like counting the days to Christmas! A virtual advent calendar without the cheap candy and trinkets!

    • Reply Johnny April 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Hahaha. “A virtual advent calendar without the cheap candy and trinkets!” Best description I’ve read yet. Awesome.

  • Reply The Norwegian Girl April 18, 2013 at 11:10 am

    This reminded me about a package I once received one month after it should´ve been delivered. It was never tracked because well, that`s not how they do it in Spain:-p, but what was so interesting was that the package that had been sent from a Spanish Island and was supposed to be delivered in Norway, had so many random stamps on it from South America! It was seriously covered with different stamps from different countries. I have NO idea how it ended up there, but that sure would have been fun tracking online:-p
    The worst thing was that it was a birthday present from my mom, but I didn`t get it until a month after, AND there were things missing… The package had clearly been open. But it wasn`t that easy to complain when it had been handled in so many random countries!

    • Reply Johnny April 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      At the very least the package could have taken you with it. 🙂 What a nightmare. We haven’t ventured much into international shipping, but I imagine the chances for error/mistranslation, etc. increases exponentially.

  • Reply Alysia @ Slim Sanity April 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

    haha! this is funny. I track packages like it’s my job. I get obsessed with it sometimes. I’ve had so many issues at my old apartment with them not being delivered properly. It’s such a hassle to track down when they get lost!

    • Reply Johnny April 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Half the reason I’m so obsessed is because we had a similar situation in New York where the packages would be left at the building door and just asking to be stolen by a random passerby. And now that that’s no longer an issue, the obsession stuck and that’s that.

  • Reply Ellen April 24, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I just thought today “I wonder if I should call and check on my Target package because the label was created 10 days ago and UPS still hasn’t picked it up!!”

    • Reply Johnny April 29, 2013 at 2:06 am

      Haha. This is awesome. And yes, you should. 🙂

    Leave a Reply to David Cancel Reply