WHERE’S MY STUFF? – Marilyn Armstrong and Rich Paschall

I know this isn’t the sexiest subject on the Internet, but this morning, I had to explain to my furniture store from whom — at the beginning of June — we ordered a new loveseat. The one we sit in — ALL the time — is 15 years old and has more or less collapsed. Considering that we are home pretty much all the time, we need something to support our backs — and sturdy enough to not be done in by the Duke’s sharp, pointy feet.

They have no idea when I’ll get my sofa. I’m not in a hurry anyway, so it was more a matter of information than urgency. Rich Paschall has explained this to me and to you (if you read the posts), I explained it to her. She hadn’t understood it either and said she was grateful because customers get restless and don’t seem to understand why the world isn’t working like it used to.

Tracks are the road

Most people think the delays are (or were) because so many people are (were, will be) sick, but that was where it began. From then on, it is far more complicated and it is not repaired. Most places aren’t entirely sure how to repair it. Until it is finally fixed, it might be quite a long time  before we see the improvements, even if every airline and freight mover works as hard as they can to get it working. Old ideas need to be replaced, in some cases with older ideas we abandoned or changed to entirely new ways of doing things.

We won’t have an economy if we can’t move our goods. Forget about overseas shipping. Even shipping in this country — which is a very big country with many airports and uncounted numbers of roads — has a lot of moving to do.Living in New England, we are completely dependent on getting fruits and vegetables from California, Florida, and Mexico from November through April and often longer. By early summer, I’m drooling over the idea of a fresh orange.

Spanning the river

Weather matters. Road conditions are critical.  That’s why public works — resurfacing, rebuilding roads and bridges — is a very big deal. It’s not just whether or not you get to work on time.

It’s also whether or not you have work to get to.

We need trains that run in addition to trucks, but we’ve never bothered to repair the tracks, so throughout the country, many direct routes are unusable. We have the trains, but the tracks are old and have not been maintained.

So, while wondering how come we don’t have our new recliner, we should ponder where it’s coming from and how it will somehow get from it’s point of manufacture to the shop in Uxbridge (where we bought it) and ultimately, to our living room.

A big truck and a low bridge

So for all of you waiting for a shipment, I’m posting a list of three of Rich’s well-written, clearly explained posts about shipping. How it is broken and how it is being resurrected — to the degree that it can be resurrected.

I’m sure most of you don’t read these pieces because they aren’t sexy or exciting, They won’t make you laugh, but it’s information you need, whether you are running a business or dependent on those who do. Shipping affects everybody, from grocery stores to flower growers, and people who just want a new fridge.

No one has stopped making stuff … but getting it? That’s a whole other story.




Considering that I had to explain this to my furniture company this morning what’s going on in the shipping industry, I’m pretty sure we all need to understand how complicated this process is. We’ve come to depend on getting everything as soon as we want it, whether it’s coming from China, England, or Australia.

Stuck in traffic on the way to Connecticut

The freight and shipping lines are broken. Like the damaged train tracks all over the U.S., our supply lines are badly damaged. Restoring them to something like what we used to have won’t be instant. It will take time, cost big money, and require rethinking the process.

It’s a great opportunity for local farms, carpenters, builders … anyone whose business is close to its customers to do a major “reboot.” For everyone else, it’s the giant migraine of migraines. Be patient … or order locally, even if it costs more — assuming there IS a local manufacturer. When we moved all our manufacturing to Asia, a lot of things we all need went far away. I don’t think we make kitchen or laundry appliances anywhere in this country. When you aren’t buying it from a Chinese factory, it will cost more and try to remember even if it has an American brand name on it, that doesn’t mean it was made here or even on this continent.

On the other hand, it might be worth more, too. And you might get it during this lifetime.

Categories: #Photography, Cars and Trucks, Economics, highways, Rich Paschall, Transportation

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22 replies

  1. I still have a direct (ex) line to the shipping industry and it’s still moving across the oceans. The hold up is getting it off the cargo ships to the trucks to distribute. There’s also a Longshore strike and they’re the only ones who can take things off a ship. But the boats are still moving and I see it with my own eyes every day in Seattle whilst visiting grandkids.


  2. Reblogged this on rjptalk and commented:

    In case you missed this one earlier in the week on SERENDIPITY, here is the link back to it. The supply chain has been disrupted in ways we could not imagine at the beginning of the year. Here are some thoughts and links to other articles. Be sure to click “view original post” at the bottom to head over to teepee12.com for the rest of the article.


  3. A collab, nice! The decay of our infrastructure is in the hands of politicians for decades, who promise us public works but do not deliver. Didn’t the orange one promise us an infrastructure bill?
    This week the international shipping situation became more complicated. Over the last few weeks, carriers were adding flights as things were supposed to open up, but the rapid spread of disease in this country has everyone rethinking that. Europe has banned American tourists, so why fly here?. China has made flying there more difficult. And in a great stroke of irony for the Orange Menace, Mexico has closed the border with Arizona.


  4. After waiting EIGHT weeks for something via Amazon, a thing which I did not urgently need nor was even of vital importance to anyone but me; I was livid. I vowed (and continue to vow) not to buy anything via Amazon, perhaps ever again. I’m just not that patient, and patience is one thing the American public needs to reboot themselves over, because if its true the old way is broken down and is mostly irreparable, and requires new thought processes to get it to revive a bit; then Americans better put their entitlement in the closet behind those old ski boots and get over themselves.

    If I want something these days, I’ll figure out how to go get it myself at a local or at least fairly nearby place or I’ll forget about it. Amazon has failed me personally and once the trust is broken, it’s damned near impossible to get that trust back. From your (and Rich’s) astute posts with lots of info, at least I know WHY, but Amazon? Ain’t getting my business again. I’m too pissed off. And it’s not their fault, nor is it mine. Maybe that’s the ultimate in frustration – having something wrong and nobody to blame it on. Too deep for me. Shop and buy local takes on a whole new meaning now. If only the stores will open their doors, right?

    if I were you (and I realize the problem is being dealt with, slowly) I’d see if Owen could rent a truck, and entice some friends to help him go pick up your loveseat and deliver it to you. That would solve the issue without further distress to anyone, but as mentioned, you’re a shining example of patience and genteel acceptance of an ugly situation. Good for you!


    • He can’t pick it up. They don’t HAVE it. It has to be delivered to them. If they had it, we’d already have it.

      That’s the problem. When you order things from a dealer, he is usually the middle man, sometimes one of several middle people. Big stores keep stocks, but once they run out, they have to reorder. For example. appliances aren’t made in this country. They are ALL made in China, no matter what it says on the logo. If not every piece of the appliance, most of it comes from overseas. So you need a big boat or a big airplane which will land wherever it lands, probably LA. THEN it sits and waits for the truck to load up and take the various items to the various locations. Not ONE truck, but MANY trucks. Since we don’t have functional rail service in the U.S., there’s no alternative.

      At least the loveseat is made in the U.S. Not locally — I think one of the Carolinas. But definitely not next door.

      We are going to have to develop more patience — kind of like our grandparents had to have because everything had to be made to order or it had to come from overseas. Shipping routes are slow and those were sailing ships to boot so bad weather could sink the ship and you’d NEVER see your item.

      Unless your local suppliers actually MAKE the item themselves (and I doubt whatever you want is made at the store), you won’t have any better luck with them than with Amazon, though maybe they’ll be better at finding your house.

      I didn’t get mad at the waiting. I get that. It’s having it delivered to the wrong address — and so often — that pissed me off. Our house number is on a pretty big sign at the top of the driveway and unless you aren’t even looking, it’s hard to miss.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I did read Rich’s last post and it was quite interesting. As Naomi and I are frequently waiting for dolls and bears we’ve bought from overseas we follow the tracking with a great deal of interest. I recently bought something from the USA which I think began it’s journey in North Carolina, It went to Washington, Miami and San Francisco where it spent several days before heading to Sydney where it spent a week doing nothing. I finally received notice that it had arrived so the final journey will be me walking to the shop where I pick up my mail to get it. It was about three weeks which under the circumstances was not bad.
    We used to make lots of whitegoods in Australia when I was young. I remember the factories in the Adelaide suburbs as I lived near some of them. Now they all come from Asia, mostly China. Considering that we are not on the best of terms with China right now that’s not a good thing.


    • That’s pretty much the deal everywhere now. Every manufacturer thought they could save money having it made in China or Vietnam or somewhere around there. No, nobody has their own manufacturing and everyone assumed that shipping was always going to work. Surprise!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Shipping out of Asia is not as cheap as it used to be. There is now a dispute with the Chinese government who wants lower rates and it is choking the supply lines. Airlines that are losing money are not going to fly goods out of China at a loss.


        • When they first passed the laws that let every company “outsource” everything, I said “It’s a bad law and it’s going to come back and bite us.” I didn’t know how badly until recently. When you hand over your economy to hostile other nations, what do you THINK is going to happen?

          Liked by 1 person

  6. very frustrating!


  7. Seems like pretty much everything needs a major reboot these days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. it does. That’s why this economic collapse is a lot worse than people think. It isn’t just lost jobs. It’s lack of products. That’s what happens when you save a few cents and have it all made overseas. One day, something unexpected happens and whoops.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. it seems to bit that it is a sort of hit of miss situation, as far as logistics and deliveries. I’m trying to be patient knowing this – good luck and hope it finds its way to you before too long

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t get mad at Amazon being late. I get that transport is a mess and isn’t about to get fixed next week.

      It’s that they delivered the stuff to the wrong address.

      We have given them clear directions to get here — not that it’s all that difficult — AND we’ve put up a sign on the road with our house number on it. So if the driver is paying any attention, it’s hard to miss.

      And it isn’t hit or miss, either. We know where the stuff is made — mostly China. We know how to get it which is order it. But effectively the road — transport — is broken. We had it all worked out until suddenly, life changed. That we gutted our manufacturing capabilities and sent appliances and most clothing and fabrics to be made far away and overseas just so we could not have to pay Americans to do the same work? Well, what did we think was going to happen should something break the supply lines? I said YEARS ago that this was great until one day, something will happen. We have no factories or manufacturers here. We can’t make cars, trucks, refrigerators or washing machines. OR overcoats, underwear, brassieres, or dish towels. It’s ALL made in Asia or Mexico or Nepal, but it isn’t made in this country.

      I knew this would happen. It was just a matter of time and a change in the wind. One day, we wouldn’t be able to ship everything. It could have been the result of a war or a natural catastrophe or any number of other things including a pandemic … but one day, it would break down. It did.

      Think about it. How could it NOT break down?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, I totally get that


        • I always thought exporting all our manufacturing was “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” Sure, you save some money, but in the end you are entirely dependent on other countries — thousands of miles away — for everything. I thought they should pay people here to make things because they deserved jobs and might just do a better job … and we would have an economy no matter what happened.

          The companies that tried to stay here eventually couldn’t match the much cheaper prices and one by one, closed. It’s not about coal mines — we don’t NEED coal mines. But we need refrigerators and washing machines. Clothing. Linens. Woolens. Shoes. Now we have nothing of our own and it’s all ordered from far away … and THEY are in the middle of their own epidemic.

          Liked by 1 person


  1. WHERE’S MY STUFF, PART TWO – RICH PASCHALL – Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth
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