You may have seen it all before. You order something online and have the delivery sent to your home address. Then immediately regret it, because you know exactly what comes next. Days of frustration, anticipation and anxiety.
I’m talking about the dreaded ”Australia Post attempted delivery of your parcel…” message / card.
The first thing you do, is try to rationalise which day the parcel is going to arrive. You plan it out with some wizardry. Like trying to calculate the rate of decline of an orbiting satellite along with the weather and other atmospheric conditions that will ultimately affect the final resting location of your rock, you calculate your parcel will arrive on Thursday.
Should you take the morning off? Will it arrive in the afternoon? They’ve given you a tracking number, so you log in every 5 minutes to check to see if they’ve updated it. You quickly interpret the changes in information as your parcel moves from conveyor to conveyor, until ultimately it hits the back of a truck. “Onboard for delivery.”. YES you think to yourself, this is it! All of my training, planning and preparedness have paid off. Now to execute the perfect hand off, be there at the right time to ensure that the delivery man attends.
You strand your loved one at home, safe in the knowledge that they’ll be there to intercept your parcel so the ordeal can end there and then. You tell them it’s for the greater good, you kiss them goodbye and wish them well.
“Australia Post attempted delivery” – no you didn’t you filthy liars.
You’re stranded love one pleads with you over the phone. “I was there! I didn’t have my headphones on! I had the music down so low I could hear the old man muttering to himself three doors down”. It’s time to choose sides, your loved one and their pleas for mercy, or Australia Post, the faceless organisation who has burned you before.
You chose to believe that no one is at fault. “hey” you think to yourself, “No one is out to get me, my loved one must have been using the blender, or the kettle was boiling, or they dropped a pan, then slammed the cupboard at the exact moments that the postman was knocking with an UNQUESTIONABLE DETERMINATION on the door, until his hands were red and sore from beating on the door to gain attention from within only to exhaust all options and walk away defeated, all the while the noise of the kettle, pots and pans or some other freakishly timed events within preventing your loved one from hearing the calls of your valiant Australia Post delivery man.
You make your second mistake, you look at where the delivery has been ‘delivered’ for your ‘convenience’ to collect within 72 hours. It’s Ethiopia.
It may as well be. You can’t drive to the postal location because there’s no parking, or it’s a school zone, next to a shopping strip that doesn’t have it’s own parking. It’s right near a speed camera, on a one way street, down a dark alley on a hill that’s guarded by the riders of the night.
“Ok,” you think to yourself, “You can do this!”. Step one, return home. You know you can’t collect your spoils without that little paper card they left in your mailbox, or your door, or on the floor because it blew out of the door. You attempt to reconstruct the few parts missing that the snails ate. “Is that a 5?… blast” you think to yourself, “the postal people know how to read swiss letters”.
You take the morning off, because the post office is only open from 9:59am to 10:01am on every second day, that’s not a thursday or Tuesday, when the sun rises between 5:58 and 6:04am on the days after the sun sets with a red haze and lowband cloud cover.
You plan your attack. You’ll be smart, you’ll park a little away because you know you won’t get a spot out the front. You know it’s safer to walk the gauntlet of the local strip mall that it is to attempt to arrive directly at your destination.
Frustration Again, bit of anxiety
“Sorry love, you need to collect this after 3pm”. You call in sick to work. It’s your only hope, you don’t even make an excuse, you just tell them simply “I’m collecting a parcel” and they get it. They sign off with the faintest “good luck”.
You hang around the house, pacing. Your spoils are only a mere hours away. You wait, you pace, you take your mind off it with some daytime tv. 4:06pm. “SHIT”, you think “SHIT, I fell asleep!”. You grab your keys, race out the door “no time to lock the house!” and in your car you go. They close in 54… no 53 minutes and you know they’ll shut the doors early.
As you near the strip mall that announces the post offices presence you see it, the little red and white P, the flag of the emPire, you dart down the road, do an illegal u-turn, you trawl the front of the store. End to end cars, no space for you, you see another panicked face of the driver heading towards you, you know their pain, but you’ll stop at nothing – NOTHING, even if it means their demise, to beat them to a suitable space.
You race around the corner, “Small car only” PERFECT, you think, “I’ll get my 4WD in there!”. You park at an angle, with the rear of your car half hanging out, you stick on your hazard lights and hope that everyone ‘gets’ it. You leg it to the front of the store and just make it in as a cranky person gives you a huff, then a dry smile “I was just going to lock that”, “I bet you were” you snark to yourself.
You stand in the line, which feels like it takes forever. The 35 people in front of you all seem to want to know why the increase in stamps has been so sharp of late. By the time you reach the front few places in the queue you can recite their response subconsciously, “it goes up every year, but it hasn’t really changed that much in the past few years”. You’re at the front. Someone is muttering as they are walking past you! “YES” you think “Empty counter”. *This counter is closed* “Noooooo” you scream as you fall to your knees.
“NEXT” – excellent, you race, flustered to counter 4 and you shove the little red and white checkered card on their padded little counter puff, and wonder if it makes it easier for them to stamp things, or to buffer the anger of the folks who work there… “Oh, a parcel is it, ID?” you fumble with your wallet. You KNEW this was coming, you didn’t prepare! IDIOT! You clumsily throw your cards all over the floor, sacrificed while you fiddle with the licence which just won’t come out. Success! You go to hand it over and accidentally throw it at her boob. “Sorry” you mutter. “It’s alright love” she says, as she gives you a stern look. “You could have just popped down the side of the queue for a parcel”. How? YOU KNEW THAT! but you didn’t want to bear the judgement of the souls in the queue ahead of you, as somehow you’d be burnt at the stake for attempting to queue-jump for such a trivial visit. Aren’t they all trivial? SOLIDARITY you think, as you mumble “Oh, ok, next time! Thanks.” Lies, you spout, lies to appease the lady with your spoils.
“Hang a tic, it will just be a second” she recites as she turns to head out the back. An hour passes? An hour? Maybe, I can’t remember. In all the time you’ve been fidgeting int he queue and now standing here knowing your moments from your goal, NOW your brian can process everything. Operating at 300% it’s normal speed, your brain cycles through all the things wrong: “Pretty sure that flash was a speed camera, I bet I got a parking fine, I wonder if I turned the stove off, did I really leave the front door open? Oh god, I hope this parcel has all my items and no backorder!” She’s back. “Here you go, thankyou, NEXT” she says without a pause.
You collect all your cards from the floor, why, why did you wait this long? You hold your parcel under your arm and as you pass the reaming few souls in the queue you avert your eyes in shame. This has not been you at your best, don’t make eye contact, just get out!
You return to your car and find a small yellow envelope in the window. You don’t care, it’s been worth it. The $160 visit to the post office is pretty standard. You jump in the drivers seat, place the parcel on the seat next to you and collapse on the steering wheel for just a moment before honking behind you as someone actually in a small car appears in your side mirror, motioning at you with a cranky face to move your car.
You comply, and as you’re relaxing, smiling and thinking to yourself “I’ve made it! It’s done!” you pull the car out onto the road, start on your journey home and catch a glace of the parcel on the passenger seat. “Dr Rick Montoro”. Wait a minute, you’re not a Dr. You’re not Rick.