I recently came to the conclusion that I have an unhealthy fascination with receiving packages in the mail. There's something so thoroughly satisfying about being home to sign off a box or thick envelope or what-have-you that the delivery man brings to the door, and then being able to rip it open without reserve.
A couple weeks ago I ordered a few DVDs online, after I came home from work, and I'm pretty sure my heart stopped in the brief instant it took me to click the "finish payment" option. I'd never bought anything online by myself before. It was a glorious sensation. I felt so adult! For once, I was in control of my life.
It was not this purchase, however, that made me realize my problem. Rather, my good friend of many years informed me that she was sending me a gift (a newly released video game to be more specific) from her home a few states over, and that I should be receiving it the following Saturday, if the tracking calculations were correct.
Saturday came. Saturday went. No package.
Alright, no problem. I was going to give the UPS the benefit of the doubt and assume that they had my gift, but it hadn't been marked for Saturday delivery and therefore I'd get it on Monday.
Monday came. As you can probably imagine, I was on my toes. I even found an excuse not to go to school so I could be at home when the package found its way to my doorstep. All day I kept my ears open, listening for the sound of a truck, or of the gate--anything that suggest to me a box was being dropped off. Every five seconds I would make my way to to the front door with the utmost stealth (stealth being in this case running at break-neck speed and crashing into walls in my haste), just in case I'd scare away the elusive creature that was the UPS truck.
Unfortunately for me, by the time dinner rolled around nothing had come. A few false alarms in the forms of motorcycles roaring down the road or relatives in large cars visiting the neighbors, but otherwise all had been quiet.
I picked at my food, unable to stomach the shrimp placed in front of me. It all just tasted of bitter defeat and disappointment.
Then, as I was washing the dishes as I do every night, I spied a UPS truck from the corner of my eye as it slowly made its way down the street. I screamed, startling my family as they made small talk at the dining room table, and ran to the window overlooking the road. It was at some point whilst pressing my face against the pane of glass and banging on it in desperation with my palms, calling out for the truck to turn around (and waiting in vain for a few moments afterward hoping it really would loop back to the house), that I began to realize I had a problem.
I was irritable and on edge for the next few days, restlessly circling my home like a caged animal. Every so often I would slink to the mailbox and glower down at its emptiness.
Adding insult to injury, the UPS actually did stop a few times at our door...to hand over packages that my father had ordered for his tennis-racquet stringing business.
I couldn't sleep. I couldn't study. There was only the package. Only the UPS truck. I was Gatsby, and this little box of wonder was my green light.
Last weekend I got the DVDs I ordered, which was enough to appease my longing for goodies in the mail and distract me away from the mailbox, but I still haven't received the gift my friend sent to me. I did, however, get from her an explanation.
The post office sent the mail back to her home because she hadn't paid for the international shipping cost to cover the distance from New Mexico to California. Apparently, our country can't keep track of its own states. Good job, America; I've never been more proud.