Spoiler alert: If you are a grandchild of Jim and Cyndy Miller and live in Parker, Colo., do NOT read this story until after Christmas morning.
When Jim Miller mailed a set of cars from the movie “Cars” to his grandson in Denver, he didn’t think they’d have almost 5,000 miles on them by the time they got there.
They’re probably due for an oil change by now.
The two packages that Miller and his wife, Cyndy, sent from a postal counter at a Wichita Dillons store on Dec. 1 contained a mix of toy cars for Miller’s grandson, art supplies for his granddaughter and clothes for both.
Postal tracking shows they were the gifts that kept on traveling.
One of the packages got within 20 miles of its Parker, Colo., destination three times, but each time was diverted to cities as far away as Cincinnati, Ohio. The box was finally delivered on its fourth arrival in Denver.
The other package got to Denver twice and was sent away. The third time was the charm on that one.
Here’s what the tracking slips looked like:
Package 1: Wichita to Denver, Denver to Kansas City, Kansas City back to Denver, Denver back to Kansas City, Kansas City to Cincinnati, Cincinnati back to Denver, Denver back to Kansas City, Kansas City back to Denver and then finally on to Parker.
Total air miles traveled: 4,872. Travel time: 17 days, including a four-day stopover somewhere between Cincinnati and Kansas City.
Package 2: Wichita to Denver, Denver to Kansas City, Kansas City back to Wichita, Wichita back to Denver, Denver back to Kansas City, Kansas City back to Denver and on to Parker.
Total miles: 2,644. Travel time: 14 days.
“These guys are always saying how broke they are. No wonder,” said Miller, a retired Air Force captain. “It makes me wonder how many other packages got mis-shipped.”
Brian Sperry, a spokesman for the Postal Service in Denver, said that without seeing the original packaging, which was not available for analysis, he couldn’t explain why the gifts took such circuitous and different routes.
It could have been an error in the address or in the bar code that tells automated equipment where the package is supposed to go, he said.
Something small like a single slipped digit in a ZIP code can cause big delays, he said. He said the Postal Service has handled about half a billion packages this Christmas season, mostly on time.
But this is a story with a happy ending.
The last of the two packages arrived on Dec. 18, so Miller’s grandkids would get to open their toy cars and art supplies on Christmas morning.
“Fortunately, they mailed early, like we advise people to do,” Sperry said.
Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.