The universe is cyclical. Fail, win, fail, win. Fail fail, win win. There are patterns. The Buddha put forth that we find meaning in life through struggle. I found a little meaning this week.
The last minute, packing for Southern Fried Gameroom Expo, I decided to remove some key tools from my usual toolbag and carry a tote with some essential pinball-arcade repair tools to the show. Stuff like:
A Hakko Soldering Tool
A Hakko Desoldering Tool
A Fluke 7x Series Auto-sensing DMM
Cleaner, a Solder Sucker
A Wreck-it-Ralph Nesquick containter with hot glue implements
Various and Sundry other hand tools
Somewhere in the madness of packing up - the tub evidently was left behind at the hotel near the loading dock. This is my fault.
When I finished rounds of unloading back at home and sat down to set up my pin in it's home, I realized the tub of tools was missing. I put up a few feelers with the hotel lost and found and after getting hung up on a couple times and getting barely comprehendible responses other times it was clear to me that hotel was not going to be my best bet. (Although I did send a small gift basket to the hotel Loss Team manager to try to encourage better service. Looking back and with full-knowledge of events, that turns out to have been ineffective)
The show organizers and volunteers of SFGE on the other hand are superheroes. They work their butts off at this show and every year it's bigger, better and still feels like a big family. I really.. really didn't want to impose on them with my careless tubby-handling..
But, alas I swallowed my pride and engaged the game bringer and facebook groups to sleuth out what happened.
Between facebook groups, facebook messenger and GAPAS email list, the fate of the tub was quickly brought to light.
A well-meaning game bringer saw it as he left and placed it on the inside stairwell near the freight elevator. Even though the hotel claimed they looked, they really didn't. One of the event volunteers went back days later and found Tubby, all alone at the bottom of the stairwell.
I was already feeling shitty about having imposed on the group and beyond appreciative that Joe took time out of his day to go fetch Tubby. When he asked about my shipping preference, honestly I was more worried about not inconveniencing him with finding a box that it would fit in. "Whatever's easiest!"
As the week passes, we have these running conversations about "Where's Tubby?" and "How's Tubby?" and I try to find some small way to show my appreciation for his efforts in getting the tub shipped back. The tracking info starts showing some sketchy entries but I chalk it up to our local Mayberry-like split-postal arrangement between two post offices.
Eventually, though - a box arrives.. and tubby's corpse is inside it.
The contents of the tub were mostly gone. Both Hakko's, the DMM, all tools but one screwdriver and a glass puller. Really, the loss feels quite surgical. Anything of a certain dollar amount - gone. I'm not implying that there's a postal worker, soldering enthusiast running amok with my tools, though. I can smell bureaucratic bullshit 300 miles away and this case reeks of risk mitigation by part of the post office.
I've spent hours traversing the postal service phone tree trying to follow these directions. Sadly, the phone tree literally had no series of options that would allow me to speak with the Mail Recovery Center or to initiate a search. Lots and lots of frustrating dead-ends and no humans.
I've since filled out all of the relevant stacks of forms and have set my expectations appropriately low for what comes next. I've started shopping for tools to replace the missing ones... cha-ching, stimulatin' some economics.
- Atlanta Renaissance Waverly Lost & Found - They don't find lost things.
- SFGE Organizers, Volunteers, Fellow Game bringers - Are awesome examples of humanity
- US Postal Service Phone System - Makes me want to break things.
- US Postal Service Web Portal - 6/13/2018 isn't a valid date? Dead Links. Horrible.
Finally.. hold on to your Tubby's and tell your Hakko's you love them. You never know, one day they m they may not be there.
Moving On in Memory of Tubby
Slowly, I'll start replacing the lost tools. To replace the Fluke Multimeter, I upgraded slightly from the 73 series Fluke to the Brymen BM235. For the soldering iron, I'm sticking with the Hakko 888D.
The hakko desoldering gun is the most bitter financial pill to swallow. I'm going to wait until I have an impending need or the off-chance USPS actually finds the other one before I commit to that $325 Amazon Cart. I see cheaper options that are compelling but I loved the other tool, probably best the save up and buy the one I know I'll like versus buying something that might be a let-down.
Update 2 Weeks Later
After painstakingly recounting the contents of tubby in both the "search for lost mail" and "file a claim" areas of the USPS website, this arrived in the mail a couple of days later..
As I look to add on the missing de-soldering pump to the toolbag, it looks like at the time of this writing, https://www.tequipment.net/hakko/ is the place to get it.