Now I know how fugitives feel. Skittish. Restless. Constantly looking over their shoulders, as though the next moment could be The One. Or not. Was that a car door? A tap on the window? Or just the wind?
I know this feeling, because I’m at home today, waiting for a package.
“Because Santa doesn’t limit to three delivery attempts on weekdays between 8am and 8pm, or require the signature of an adult in person.”
Package delivery is the most nerve-wracking thing in the world. It shouldn’t be. You’re getting a package — a box full of possible goodies that you may or may not know the contents of, and might possibly contain cookies or new toys or at least those fancy packing peanuts that dissolve in water. Waiting for a package should be like freaking Christmas, but it’s not. Because Santa doesn’t limit to three delivery attempts on weekdays between 8am and 8pm, or require the signature of an adult in person.
(On the other hand, maybe he should. That overtime and weekend pay for the elves has to be killing him.)
The problem with waiting for a package is that you’re stuck. You’ve got a twelve-hour window in which the doorbell could ring, which means an entire half a day when the doorbell probably won’t. But you can’t take that chance. Any short absence, or errand, or bout of unavailability will be met with the ultimate punishment. For fugitives, it’s a pair of cuffs and a trip back to the clink. For package waiters, it’s the note.
“So sorry,” it says. “We tried our best — our really, for-true level best! — to deliver your package, but goshdarnit if you weren’t around. And we just couldn’t leave it here, what with all the ruffians and scoundrels prowling about in your ghetto of a neighborhood. We’re not having that on our conscience, no sir.”
The actual note probably doesn’t say that, exactly. Nobody knows, because no one’s ever actually read one. What we do know is that — like fugitives, if they also happen to be felons — it’s three strikes, and you’re out. That delivery monkey will try three times, leaving up to three notes, and then you’re out of luck. Your package has to be picked up, or they ship it back.
Or it gets the death penalty, maybe. I really should read one of those notes some time.
(This is assuming you’re waiting for FedEx or the postal service, or maybe DHL, who actually deliver packages that are addressed to your house. If you’re waiting on UPS, it’s a whole different ballgame.
Waiting on UPS is not like being a fugitive, waiting for the law. It’s more like being a nerdy teenager waiting for the hot cheerleader girl to spontaneously show up on prom night with a limo, a rented tux and panties that have ‘Be Mine’ stitched across the crotch.
You can get your hopes up all you like. But that shit ain’t happening.)
Yesterday, I got my first note. From FedEx. So I’m at home today — watching, waiting, mostly worrying — to prevent this package madness from progressing any further. Meanwhile, my own madness explodes in a haze of paranoid anxiety.
Because the delivery guy is coming. Oh yes, he will come. And if I’m unable, for the tiniest sliver of time, to come to the door, that’s when he’ll be here. And then he’ll be gone, and I’ll only have my two tear-stained notes and a warm pile of self-loathing to keep me company. It is thus imperative that I remain ever vigilant, like a Minuteman, for the delivery guy’s arrival. This makes life in the meantime somewhat… tricky.
Take pooping, for example. Everybody poops, apparently. That’s what all the books say. But most people probably take a fairly leisurely trip to the loo. I’m not saying they pack a sports drink and a stack of books for the trip — though I’m not saying you shouldn’t try it at least once, either. But I’m guessing the average offload takes a few minutes, say five, to accomplish, what with all the steps and the hand washing and zipping up and such.
Well, not when you’re waiting for a package. The “package poop” is a whole different animal. That involves rushing to the front door or window to scan for any sign of a delivery truck. Seeing none, there’s the mad dash to the bathroom, pants undone and flung around the ankles along the way. Then you hit the seat, clamp your hands under the bowl and push like you’re trying to get the Suleman octuplets out of you.
And I don’t mean when they were born. I mean at their current age.
Then it’s fifteen seconds of screaming “YAAAAAAHH!!!“, wiping something — toilet paper, Kleenex, Q-tips, whatever you can find — somewhere in the vicinity of your butt, and scurrying like a madman back to the window to see if there’s a delivery guy walking away with your package.
Maybe you manage to get your pants back up first. Or maybe old Mrs. Willoughby next door has another fainting spell. These are the perils of package waitingship.
Of course, that’s nothing compared to the shower. I’m not a long showerer, myself. I can get in and out in maybe three minutes, in a pinch. But receiving a package isn’t just about “not being in the shower”. It also means being “presentable”. Marginally presentable, sure, but there are certain social norms when it comes to clothing and grooming that have to be met. If you could trip on your doormat and accidentally get the delivery guy pregnant, then there’s something wrong.
Actually, that would mean an awful lot of somethings are wrong, all at the same time. Not least of which being you should really get yourself an anti-slip doormat. Safety first, bucko.
So the shower becomes another ordeal, this one broken up into manageable, ever-vigilant gymnastic chunks. I’ve found I can poke my head into the shower and wash my hair with my pants still on. I can swap pants for a shirt, sit on the tub edge, and scrub my legs. Arms are no problem. If I get a good handstand going, I can rinse my back without removing my underwears There’s this modified “downward dog” pose that I won’t go into for the sake of decorum, but let’s just say that if you don’t believe it’s possible to wash your junk in the shower while wearing a perfectly dry pair of tube socks, then I could totally win ten bucks from you in a bar bet.
The cumulative effect of all these mental and physical gyrations is torture. The constant threat of that thing that’s totally going to happen weighs heavy on a psyche. I find that if the delivery guy doesn’t come in the first ninety minutes or so of the window, I can’t bear it any more. I wind up rocking in a fetal position under the kitchen table, whispering “when it absolutely, positively has to be there…” over and over. By the time the doorbell finally rings, I barely even hear it. And I’m in no shape to answer the door. I can’t even face the world until eight in the evening, when all the trucks and the packages and the crushing pressure have gone home.
And oh, look. Another delivery note. Says they’re going to try again tomorrow.
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