I snapped my laptop closed with a self-satisfied smirk and wandered out into the kitchen humming tunelessly. Peeling a banana, I continued to hum through the noisy mouthfuls.
“What’s going on, here?” snapped my wife, suspicious eyebrow raised.
“What do you mean?” I garbled through half-masticated banana.
“I mean, you’re smiling. You never do that. Even on the rare occasion you’re happy. So stop it, it’s freaking me out.”
“I just ordered my brand-new Kindle Whitepaper on Amazon,” I declared, holding my arms aloft like a conductor before an orchestra ensemble, my banana my baton. “Got 20% off too for doing a 30-day free Prime trial. Just after I ordered it, I got an email with a tracking link and it’ll be here tomorrow before eight in the evening. It’s already left the warehouse! Already on its way! A miracle of efficiency!” I cried, slashing away at the air merrily. “Say what you want about giant multinational Death Stars! At least the customer always comes first no matter what! A concept treading softly on an alien planet here in France! I mean– ”
“Have you already forgotten about IKEA last year?” interrupted my wife dryly, gleeful malevolence smoldering in her eyes. “Isn’t that a big multinational, hm?
My arms collapsed to my sides and the banana slipped through my suddenly trembling fingers and fell to the floor with a fleshy thwack. Immediately in the throes of the vivid flashback to angrily sleeping on the floor for days before the useless IKEA bastards finally came and only assembled a couple of pieces of our furniture before giving up and leaving at 1:00 pm on the grounds of being too tired to carry on, I threw back my head bawling a long string of ugly profanities and shaking my fist at the high ceiling upon which I was actively hallucinating the faces of my legions of enemies staring down upon me smugly, their long necks with their reedy snappable windpipes hopelessly beyond my strangling grasp.
“That’s much better,” said my wife with her hands planted in firm satisfaction on her hips. “I recognize you again!”
Day 2 (early afternoon):
Although en route since early in the morning, my Kindle had not yet arrived. Still, I was itching for my life-affirming afternoon jaunt to the Jardin du Luxembourg. Restless, I got online and double-checked the assurances that in my absence, the delivery would be made to a secure location on the premises (i.e. mailbox, a neighbor, etc.) Before I continue, here is a picture of my mailbox:
To be clear, there is a good 3-centimeter space for a Kindle-sized package to be dropped in. Not to mention there is also this mailbox for larger packages:
I therefore set off for the gardens with guarded confidence that my package would be delivered if it arrived while I was out. When I got home a while later, both mailboxes were empty. I got online to check the status and almost spat on my monitor when I read that a first delivery had been attempted and another would be made the next day.
“You’ll just have to stay here tomorrow until it arrives,” said my wife brightly later that evening as I moodily stabbed at my dinner with my fork and fantasized the food on the plate was the remains of the genitals of the pillock who had failed to deliver my Kindle.
Day 3 (early afternoon):
Although en route since early in the morning, my Kindle had not yet arrived and I was gnawing on the heel of my thumb desperately wanting to get outside.* Toying with the idea of playing drinking games with myself to pass the time, my phone dinged in my pocket. A message from Amazon: because you were not home yesterday, delivery of your package has been delegated to a third party who will today, if you are once again absent, ensure delivery to a secure location on the premises (i.e. a mailbox, a neighbor, etc.)
“Hooray!” I shouted, clapping my hands together and promptly setting out to the gardens. When I got home a while later, both mailboxes were empty. Ascending the creaking spiral staircase in my building, from below I could see that on the landing something had been deposited on my doormat. Although wracked with irritation that, with the exception of the sidewalk outside, my Kindle had been left out in pretty much the most insecure place possible, I was still more relieved than anything else.
“What the fuck is this?” I muttered after tearing open the package breathlessly on the landing. The 13.00€ Kindle CASE I had ordered with the Kindle was what the fuck that was. “No, no, and no again,” I moaned softly as I banged my head against my front door until there was a squishy soft spot in the middle of my forehead not unlike a bruise on an apple.
After letting myself in, I threw myself into my desk chair with a sigh and wearily checked the online status of my Kindle: a second delivery had been attempted and a third and last would be made the next day. Another failed delivery would result in the package being returned to Amazon for refund.
“Don’t leave tomorrow even if the building is on fire,” said my wife brightly later that evening as I stared at her darkly and fantasized about hanging the delivery man tomorrow from his own intestines and leaving him out on the landing for her to come home to after work.
Day 4 (early afternoon):
Although en route since early in the morning, my Kindle had not yet arrived and, in order to stave off the insidiously encroaching claustrophobia, I was entertaining the notion of seeing how many times in a row I could masturbate at the age of 50 (the highwater mark on that score being 5,687.5, set when I was around 14 years-old). Prior to commencing, I halfheartedly got online to check the status of my package and felt something from deep within my temporal lobe, about the size and hardness of a walnut, start to aggressively pulsate: a third attempt had been made and “due to technical difficulties, you must contact Amazon immediately to reschedule delivery.”
TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: You are obviously very upset, sir, but our delivery man swears he did not have the door code to your building.
ME: Open up my address on Amazon right now!
TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: Yes, okay. The… ere. Okay, I see it.
ME: Read out to me what it says in the field “Ajouter instructions de livraison”.
TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT [voice quavering]: It says “Code d’entrée: B6821”.
ME: You’re goddamn right that’s what it says! But you’re telling me I didn’t provide the door code, right? Even though the day before and the day before that, the delivery man had the door code but was just too braindead to put the package in my mailbox!!! So, it’s my fault, right? Right?!
TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: No, no, sir! It’s not your fault! Of course, it’s not your fault! I’m going to tell them myself your door code so NO PROBLEM tomorrow.
ME: You remember what else you’re going to do, don’t you?
TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: I think you said to hang myself by my own intestines, was is?
ME [roaring]: No! Before that, you imbecile!
TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: I’m going to tell them to put it in your mailbox because you won’t be home waiting for it.
ME: Correct! Then what are you going to do?
TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: Hang mys–
ME: No! Before that!!!
TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: Yes, yes, I remember now. I’m going to send you an email confirming all of this.
“Don’t leave tomorrow even if YOU are on fire,” said my wife brightly later that evening as I paced back-and-forth in a corner, my dinner untouched, stroking a medieval battle axe I had purchased at the Clignancourt flea market earlier in the day.
Day 5 (early afternoon):
Although en route since early in the morning, my Kindle had not yet arrived. I was too tired and defeated to dream up some diversion from my anxiety. I expended an inordinate amount of energy just to go online and check the status of my package, my fingers leaden as I typed. My bloodshot eyes stared incredulously at the monitor: a fourth attempt had been made and “due to technical difficulties, you must contact Amazon immediately to reschedule delivery.” I felt my mind slipping away as I was tugged inexorably into Dante’s fifth circle of hell, a slimy length of drool escaping the corner of my mouth and slithering down the front of my shirt.
I opened Gmail and lethargically banged out a brief reply to the Terrified Amazon Agent’s confirmation email from the day before:
Despite your verbal promises to me on the phone and this written confirmation, I have just been notified of a fourth delivery failure due to “technical difficulties”. I require an immediate and detailed explanation for what today’s particular problem is.
Two seconds later, my phone dinged:
Veuillez noter que je suis présentement en vacances avec la famille. Je reviendrais le 30 Août. Pendant cette période, je n’aurai pas accès à mes courriels.
SECOND TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: You are obviously very upset, sir, but our delivery man swears that your street in Paris doesn’t exist.
ME [through gritted teeth]: I’m emailing you a photograph right now. Here it is:
ME [cont.,]: You have it? Good. See that big fat main street that goes straight through the middle of the picture all the way to Saint Germain?!
SECOND TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: Yes, sir.
ME: Do you believe that is a real street in Paris?
SECOND TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: Of course, sir.
ME: And you don’t believe I photoshopped that street in just to fuck with you?
SECOND TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: No, sir. Of course not, sir. I know that street well.
ME: THAT IS MY STREET THAT YOUR DELIVERY MAN SAYS DOESN’T EXIST!!!
SECOND TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: I understand your frustration, sir. I promise there will be no more mistakes tomorrow. They have the address, they have the door code, and they have clear instructions to put it in your mailbox.
ME: You know that’s exactly what I was promised yesterday. You remember what happens if this promise is broken again?
SECOND TERRIFIED AMAZON AGENT: If it takes you the rest of your life, you will hunt me down and hang me by my intestines in front of my family.
“But don’t you have a lunch appointment tomorrow?” my wife asked brightly later that evening as she knelt in front of the closet where I was huddled, gnawing on my toenails.
Day 6 (early afternoon):
Although en route since early in the morning, my Kindle had not yet arrived. Barely caring anymore, I set off for my lunch appointment. Halfway through an enchantingly good burger in quality company, my phone rang. Unknown French number. I know who this must be, I thought, as icy dread began coursing through my veins.
“Hello, sir! I have an Amazon delivery for you, but I have absolutely no idea what your door code is.”
Five minutes later I woke up lying naked on my back in the kitchen of the restaurant surrounded by alarmed staff. My friend was kneeling beside me waving his hand in front of my face, his own a mask of worry.
“What… what happened?” I murmured.
“Man, you just went totally batshit screaming ‘B6821’ over and over again. What does that mean?”
When I got home a while later, both mailboxes were empty. Ascending the creaking spiral staircase in my building, from below I could see that on the landing something had been deposited on my doormat for anyone to swipe. Taking the stairs two at a time despite my broken knee, there indeed lay my long-awaited package. A sticky note fluttered on its surface:
Sir, here is your package delivered to your doormat as requested by you. For future reference, please consider requesting a more secure location for drop-off.
Beneath the message, the delivery man had drawn a smiley face.
A couple of hours later I woke up lying in the fetal position on the landing clutching my package as if it were a baby freshly plucked from a warzone. My wife was kneeling beside me waving her hand in front of my face.
“It finally came!” she said brightly. **
* I have significant claustrophobia issues, a topic for a future blog.
** I interrupted my blog on the sea (motivated by my recent trip to Jersey, Brittany, and Normandy) to cathartically write this. Stay tuned…
© Andrew Bowers and Requiem for the Damned (Groundhog Day in Paris), 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew Alexander Bowers and Requiem for the Damned, 2018 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.