How I became a member of the Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants
THE STORY line of the original book series, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” follows four best friends who buy a pair of pants that inexplicably fit each of them despite their differing sizes. The girls share the pants equally as they spend their first summer apart. It’s more complicated than that, but read the book or see the movie if you’re curious.
The pants in my sad tale didn’t fit, but they traveled well. I try to limit my on-line purchases to reputable companies such as Amazon, Costco, and eBay sellers whom I’ve learned are trustworthy. That’s why I hemmed and hawed over a pair of pants I saw on Facebook. They were very much like the pants the Ukraine’s President Zelensky wears.
How cool is that! They were tactical outdoor military-style army cargo pants with a lot of zippered pockets to hold a cell phone, or a multi-tool Swiss Army knife, night-vision goggles and all the things
I need to carry if and when I’m recalled for service.
I had not heard of the company but it had U.S. contact information—phone numbers and addresses. I ordered the pants. I’ve learned that it’s prudent to order at least one size larger in these situations. The company confirmed my order and provided me with a tracking number. The pants arrived within 14 days.
I was suspicious when I opened the package and noticed the length of the zipper-fly, or rather, the lack of length to the zipper, which told me the pants were like a second rate hotel—no ball room. I could barely get them over my hips. No way I could keep them. I emailed customer service asking for return information. I was told to send them pictures of the shipping label and the tag with washing guidelines. Say what?
Aha, the care instructions were in Chinese. It is almost impossible to buy anything not made in China, but I try. I emailed the pictures. Here is the reply. I’ve not corrected the grammar:
We are very sorry to hear that the size can’t be fit. We product the pants base on the size chart on our store, and we have strict quality and size inspection before shipment
We would like to issue a 10% refund of the product to you to satisfy you and you could keep the item. If you really don’t want to keep it, you could send it to your friends or family as a gift or donate it to someone who like it. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Best regards! Customer Service Eva
I laughed so hard at the suggestion that I give the pants to “someone who like it,” that I almost dropped my chopsticks from the Chinese take-out. That’s when it hit me that Eva was suggesting I find “someone who like it,” perhaps several “someones” and form a “Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants.” I thought of “friends or family” to whom I could send the pants. Most Chinese people are smaller than my robust Italian friends and relatives. The pants wouldn’t fit any of them.
I emailed them saying that their solution was unacceptable. Ten-percent of $35.93 didn’t seem like a good deal, even if I could keep ill-fitting pants that were awaiting travel orders. I wanted a full refund along with a shipping label.
Eva replied: How about we provide 15% refund for this product? You can save money for the returning shipping fee. And we will reflect this problem and amend it asap.
I suggested reflecting to 30%.
Once more from Eva: I have checked with our manager, we would like to offer you an exceptional proposal which will be provided to you only: how about we provide a 20% refund for the product.
I caved. Eva got me with “provided to you only.” It cost me a little more than $28.00 to obtain favored tourist status in China. Maybe I could get a guided-tour of a Wuhan Bio-Lab on my next visit.
I checked a site named “Scam Alert.” The list of the company’s bad reviews was longer than The Great Wall. Most complaints were about the wrong size—too small. One lady ordered a day bed and received a pillow.
As for the pants, they traveled to one of our charitable thrift stores. Several days later while waiting at a traffic light, I noticed that the pants on the homeless guy asking for handouts, looked familiar. I called him over to my car.
“Nice pants,” I said. Where’d you get them?”
“They look good on you.”
“Thanks. They’re a little snug, though.” He took the money I offered.
“You know,” I said. “Because of those pants, we’re brothers.”
“In that case, can I have another five bucks?”
Contact Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org