I'd like to get an engagement ring mailed to Burning Man. Doable?
August 29, 2015 9:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm proposing to my fiancée this week at Burning Man, and my jeweler (a friend of mine) wasn't able to finish the ring before I left. He's going to have it finished by Sunday night, and suggested that we investigate options for mailing it. Is this doable? We've both done some research, and it seems like there *are* some options...

Seems like there are two main options for USPS: Priority mail 'Hold for Delivery' and "General Delivery".

Hold for Delivery is an official, normal option for mailing things. We could do a hold for delivery to the post office at Gerlach, just outside of the event. My concern there is the timing. Priority mail express is usually overnight, but USPS says "Packages can be picked up within 15 days depending on service selected (5 days for Priority Mail Express®)." For a package sent on Monday morning, it might not arrive until..when? Saturday?

General Delivery sounds like it could work faster, and still require ID. But I'm not familiar with that option and can't find clear info about it, especially as to whether we can send it insured, requiring ID/signature, etc.

Any help (or additional info) would be appreciated!
posted by sirion to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
"Packages can be picked up within 15 days depending on service selected (5 days for Priority Mail Express®).

I'm not sure about this, but that kind of sounds like it means they'll HOLD it for 15/5 days, not that it takes extra-long to get there. I'd call and ask about that.
posted by Sequence at 10:03 AM on August 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes, they definitely mean they will only hold it for that many days before sending it back. The package should be delivered in whatever time the normal delivery standard is to Gerlach.
posted by ssg at 10:26 AM on August 29, 2015

You're asking "Can I?" when what you should be asking is "Should I?", and the answer is no.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 10:30 AM on August 29, 2015 [23 favorites]

So risky. As a two time Burner, I say no. Propose with something unusual (a ring with a pile of glued on playa dust and glitter or something non Moopy?) with the promise that the real thing is waiting safely at home.
posted by HeyAllie at 10:36 AM on August 29, 2015 [15 favorites]

Many couples propose with a placeholder ring. Something inexpensive - sometimes something funny like a ring pop. You can tell them that the real ring is safe back home.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:45 AM on August 29, 2015

@HeyAllie: If I'm using an official USPS office, it seems there's not necessarily a huge risk, assuming signatures are required, insurance is purchased, there's plenty of tracking, etc.. I mean, there's a risk the whole postage thing won't be successful, but seems like in that event, it'll be returned back to the jeweler..
posted by sirion at 10:59 AM on August 29, 2015

Of all the places, Burning Man is absolutely perfect for having an ad-hoc ring produced by some metal workers on site.
posted by odinsdream at 11:11 AM on August 29, 2015 [16 favorites]

Google BRCPO, black rock city post office. They have their own zip code and can send and receive mail. Having said that, it's extremely risky to rely on this service for anything like actual delivery. Possibly you could have the package held in Gerlach but then you would have to make the trip to Gerlach and back.
If you have it delivered via BRCPO, actually getting out of their performance art mail system to your camp is a trial by fire kind of scenario and misfires are not only probable but losing your package is a greater actuality than delivering it. Delivery to "my cool camp, corner of asteroid and the blue van with a flag on it...." kind of thing.
Why take the chance? Use a placeholder ring and reduce your worries a million fold.
Send yourself a post card and see if it arrives if you want to see if it works. I'm guessing it will arrive to an empty playa.
posted by diode at 11:14 AM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, good luck with your proposal! Great place to make it real, or surreal as the case may be.
posted by diode at 11:15 AM on August 29, 2015

If you have access to a UPS Store, they also have a ship and hold option. There is a $5 pick up fee. If that seems faster/more secure, it is another option.
posted by Michele in California at 11:40 AM on August 29, 2015

Taking the Burning Man piece completely out of the equation, my experience is that the USPS very rarely actually loses stuff, but that higher value (Registered Mail™) correlates highly with slower delivery, and also that the more unusual aspects you add (Registered Mail, general delivery/hold for delivery, sending to a small post office that might be much busier than usual), the more likely a mishap. I don't know what kind of value we're talking about here, but I have safely sent items valued between $5k and $10k via Registered Mail. Each time they have taken in excess of two weeks to arrive (granted, this is from one side of the country to the other), with no visibility on the tracking system for days at a time (multiple times I was convinced it was gone forever).

So, I think it's highly unlikely that you'd lose the ring, but I also think it's pretty unlikely that everything would go smoothly and you'd get it on time.

I have also used FedEx for some of this kind of stuff, which I understand to have some insurance issues (I think they won't insure to high enough values), and they have lost packages of mine (not high-value ones). But it's a risk I take when I need to get something there within a more predictable amount of time. Higher risk of loss, lower risk of delay (in my experience only, of course).
posted by primethyme at 11:49 AM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

What do you do when the package is delayed and you're no longer in the area? What do you do when the package arrives while you're on the playa? Go to Gerlach P.O. every day, lose at -least- an hour w/travel off the playa etc (this is not a breezy easy thing to do) to check for a package? There are a lot of things that can go wrong here.

Bring some high-quality booze/etc to trade with someone for making a stand-in ring. As a backup in case you can't find someone, craft a note in a jeweler's box that indicates the ring is waiting at home.
posted by user92371 at 3:23 PM on August 29, 2015

Even if all goes smoothly and you get the ring in time, you and then your fiancée will have to take care of a small, easily lose-able, financially and sentimentally valuable item for the rest of your time there. That's going to be stressful. I agree with others that a temporary ring is a better answer.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 3:40 PM on August 29, 2015 [9 favorites]

I would only do this if i knew someone who had a re-entry pass who was willing to run out and get it somewhere, or a close friend who was coming in late via reno/the reno airport and could pick it up there.

I know in theory there's a Real Post Office, and i know a lot of the people there act like they take this stuff seriously(and do!), but there's just way too many variables and weirdness for something this valuable and special. I'd only accept it being handle delivered by someone you know.

There some people in my wider circle of friends and friends-of-friends heading out sunday night for various life reasons, are you sure you can't get someone you know to grab it and bring it along?
posted by emptythought at 5:03 PM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Where is your friend? Maybe you could find a local burner who is not leaving for the event until Monday, and have them bring it to you.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:33 PM on August 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes. I would try to find someone to physically bring it in for you. Lots of people go in later and could do this, would love to do this.
posted by Vaike at 11:51 PM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have successfully mailed things to Burning Man, but I sure as hell would be wigged at the idea of mailing something valuable to Burning Man for all the reasons others mentioned. I vote you come up with some placeholder thing and give her the real when you get home.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:44 PM on August 30, 2015

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