Afterthoughts: Shipping of Fools

Mankind has walked on the moon. Cured polio. Created incredible technologies, from the printing press to the Internet. But still, we cannot ship a cardboard box to Hawaii.

Photo: Linny Morris

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I love living in Hawaii. But once in a while, and I’m sure you’ve hit this frustrating snafu, I want to buy something online or from a catalog, and discover that my money is no good.

For example, the other day I tried to order … Oh, Lord, this is embarrassing. I tried to order an item called Dressy Dribbles. Now, what kind of company willingly names its product “dribbles?” In terms of appeal, it’s right up there with other ghastly words in the English language, like mucous and leech. But drippy name aside, Dressy Dribbles is useful: It’s a plush, washable carseat cover.

What it is not, is easy to ship. After I filled out my little online order form and hit “checkout,” red-text apologies came up, instead of a confirmation code.

Huh. Was my address wrong? No. Would they send it to my mailbox number instead of the physical street address? Nope. How about by slow boat? No way. They just won’t deal with Alaska or Hawaii, period.

Illustration: Jing Jing Tsong

Well, no problem, I thought. Amazon! Mighty Amazon can ship… Wait, Amazon rebuffed my order. delivers to penitentiaries, by the way.

I did not hit the bullseye over at, either. There was the Dressy Dribbles, tantalizingly displayed on the website, but, sorry, I wouldn’t be able to get my mitts on it. 

I called Did Target carry the Dribbles in stores in Hawaii? No. Could I have a Dribbles shipped to a store here for pickup? No. As it was too late to call the Mainland, I wound up ranting about how our state exists, damn it! to some poor man in Bangalore, India.

I was having an existential crisis and he was armed with only a customer-service script.

But I know I’m not alone. When I got to work the next day, I sent out a request to HONOLULU Magazine readers. “Tell me what you wanted to order, but couldn’t get.” The answers made me feel better.

Fish-tank filters. Perfume. A limited-edition nail polish. Seltzer machine. Drill bits. Tea. Beer. And IKEA won’t even give Hawaii the time of day. 

Yes, yes, we understand there’s a Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Law, governing interstate commerce. And no one wants to blow up Honolulu with a $14.99 can of specialty hairspray. We’ll wait five weeks for something to arrive by boat. We’re willing to pay extra for shipping. We’re not OK with being invisible.

I’m still laughing about the time I tried to order a condiment my spouse likes, Cleveland Stadium Mustard. Stadium Mustard’s Web site proudly declares: “No longer just a regional favorite, Stadium Mustard is now available anywhere in the universe, and we ain’t kidding!” Yet a sentence later, it proclaims, “Inside the continental U.S., we can NOT ship to Hawaii or Alaska.”

I knew there was a time difference, but who knew we weren’t even part of the same universe?

I’m convinced that some people on the Mainland are angry that we get to live in Hawaii, and they only get to visit. So they withhold the mustard and the Dressy Dribbles. It’s classic passive-aggressive behavior!

For a mere 10 bucks extra, Bed, Bath and Beyond, it turned out, was willing to ship the carseat cover, which arrived in a small, light cardboard box. Apparently, “Beyond” includes not only outer space, but places as far-flung as Atlantis, Camelot and even certain islands in the Pacific. Now that’s more like it.              
For more of Wagner’s writing, see her “Guilty Pleasures” blog.