Logistics sorted


[T]here was a time when I would describe myself as a Licensed London Black Cab Driver, but for anyone now who drives for a living a little creative re-branding is the order of the day.

‘Logistics’, the word first entered our lexicon in 1982 when the armed forces described the task of transporting a battleground, with weapons, food, and all the paraphernalia of war half way round the world and drop them on two small remote islands in the middle of nowhere. Now anyone who delivers ‘stuff’ in a van provides a logistics solution.

United Parcel Service advertises itself as ‘why logistics is the most powerful force in business today – and why you should understand it.’ With a photograph of volcano erupting for dramatic effect, it warms (sorry out that) to its subject by asking the question “What is logistics”? I always thought it was a man in a van going from A to B, but apparently UPS claims ‘Logistics is the art and science of getting things exactly when they need to be there’.

Now I mention this is passing for recently I was expecting a delivery from one of UPS’s competitors and twice when they arrived at my house I managed to be out.

A card informed me that I could collect my parcel from their depot, but first I had to make an appointment. These guys were really serious about providing a logistical solution. Only 35 minutes were spent on the phone waiting to make my appointment, while listening to the solutions that this company provided.

Next day, armed with my passport and utility bill for identification I drove 15 miles (unlike Royal Mail they don’t have a depot in every town) and here on arrival I rang the bell three times before someone appeared behind the counter.

Now at this point I would ask you to suspend your disbelief for it took 40 minutes of logistics to locate my parcel within their depot, even though they knew I was coming. A mumbled apology with the excuse that the parcel was in the wrong place and a check of my proffered ID and a signature enabled me to drive away with my goods.

Well that doesn’t sound much like science, for that needs quantifiable evidence; it’s not much like art, for I can’t imagine a green and yellow van, with a driver being exhibited in the engine room of Tate Modern.

And come to think of it the logistics side is pretty thin on the ground.

I’ll tell you what it does sound like though: Loading stuff into a van, driving it around London, and then unloading it somewhere else and sometimes the customer getting his delivery delivered or just getting them to do the job themselves.

I’ve got to go there is a man in my cab with the logistics problem of getting from his office to the station, and I might just have the solution . . .

2 thoughts on “Logistics sorted”

  1. The misuse of the words “issues” (meaning “bugs” or “faults”) and “solutions” (meaning “services” or “what we do as a job”) are two of my linguistic pet hates. Following on from your account, it seems that “logistics” (an abstract noun indicating a concept not a thing) is likely to become my third.
    I think these misuses of language arise when not very literate people snatch words from the air (or copy one another) in an attempt to make what they do for a living sound more technical and complex than it really is. It is a technique borrowed from the business world that has invented a whole slew of ridiculous and meaningless words and phrases (e.g. “going forward” for “in future”, “out of the box” for “innovatory”).
    While the composers of this drivel think it makes them sound good, it in fact shows linguistic poverty: it is similar to toddlers inventing words to express things for which they do not yet know the proper term.


    1. At CabbieBlog we’ve been giving some blue sky thinking to the question of unnecessary verbal garbage. Some ideas have been run up the flagpole and moving forward, we have an embryo Mission Statement driven by the need to clarify the site’s raison d’être for the future.

      When after burning the midnight oil until the cold light of dawn reflected upon our laptop screens we have concluded that
      CabbieBlog should be:

      Regular, Reliable, Relevant


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