Mailing Mayhem, Now With Pictures

Sandra's File BoxesThere are two key elements to a successful book-mailing: smart help, and solid organization. Neither can pull the operation alone. In my last post I mentioned the great volunteers we had, so it's only fair that I begin this post with a picture of the work that Sandra stressed over for the last month -- the organization.

These two file boxes contain every one of the 2000-or-so invoices, as well as pages upon pages of printed mailing labels and pre-printed postage. It has all been sorted into blocks like "Media Mail, One Book, Sketched, Petey" (which had around 100 invoices in it.)

Sandra's job was to pull out a block of invoices, labels, and stamps, and put it in front of a group of people who could assemble it all.

Eric, Jason, Julie, and Timothy

Left to right Eric, Jason, Julie, and Timothy are one such group. Eric, Julie, and Timothy are boxing invoices with the correct books, and then affixing the correct mailing label. Jason is affixing the postage.

But they're not the only ones at work. In this shot you can see almost three-quarters of the operation... RJ, Timothy, Jason, Tyler, Julie, Ty, Matt, Kim, and Sandra are all motoring through their assigned tasks.

RJ, Timothy, Jason, Tyler, Julie, Ty, Matt, Kim, and Sandra at Dragons KeepThe Stack DiminishesKim is running books to the folks working up at the front of the store, Sandra is supervising and running blocks of invoices, labels, and postage. And Matt... well, you can just make out the box-cutter in his right hand. His job is to break down our empty boxes and keep them out from underfoot. We moved fast, and kept him surprisingly busy.

That monstrous pile of books I sat among in this blog post literally melted under the combined effort.

The mail-man showed up at around 1:00pm. We completely loaded his van with tubs, and then got back to work.

The mid-sized mail-van is completely full!

In the afternoon it got a little more tedious as the media mail gave way to the international orders. Here each team had to break up a bit and work solo, because every order was unique.

Big Mike Gets His Game On

Here's Mike assembling international orders... this is one of my favorite pictures. Look at the concentration on Mike's face, and contrast it with the wall full of possible distractions (incidentally -- if you're coming to the party on Saturday, Mike will be there playing Warmachine with Timothy starting at around noon, and they're trading armies for the day. It should be a good show.)

Here's Tyler, Ty, and RJ, similarly focused, though in the back of the store there are fewer distractions.

Tyler, Ty, and RJTwenty-four tubs

That, of course, is why my drawing table is back here instead of out front.

We kept filling tubs until there were only five or six empty tubs left in the store, out of a starting number of almost seventy. This stack to the right eventually wrapped around both corners of that wall, and when the mailman came back with the big truck he STILL couldn't fit it all in.

In this picture you can almost make out what sort of a tall beverage Eric is getting ready to tear into. Is it one of those twenty-ounce energy-drinks? Is Eric a "Rock Star" or is he a "Monster?"

I had to go back to the full-resolution, pre-crop image to make it out. It's a bottle of water. Eric James Stone is a writer, and yet somehow he manages to fuel himself without using carbonation, trendy asian herbs, or methylxanthine alkaloids in his drinks. Even more amazing, Eric was among the very first to arrive, and spent almost eight hours furiously packaging your orders.

Speaking of fuel... I provided food for this event. By the time the pictures here were taken the morning and midday bagels were long gone. The "handling" fragment of the "shipping and handling" charge adds up over 2,000 orders, so it was pretty easy to do right by the volunteers at the end of the workday.

Dragons Keep's owners bought a pizza place up the road this summer, making it both convenient and economical to provide three of DK Pizza's twenty-six-inch "Colossal" pizzas.

DK Pizza presents The Colossal

Left to right that's ham and pineapple, chicken-bacon-alfredo, and BBQ chicken-bacon-pepperoni completely covering the table that RJ, Ty, and Tyler had been working at. These three pies looked imposing, but with close to twenty hungry shipper-and-handlers tearing into them they lasted maybe fifteen minutes. The BBQ went first, but the consensus seemed to be that the alfredo chicken had a more interesting flavor. I think that means that the alfredo fans were more discerning and less gluttonous than us BBQ aficionados.

The volunteers also each went home with a numbered 11"x14" poster version of the penultimate page of the book. Once we've taken care of postering our volunteers we'll put the remainders up on dutch auction. That way you can see what they got, and they can see what it was worth.