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Friday, June 21st, 2002

daily dose of paranoia

Call it lazy, or call it efficient, but I check before I check my front porch when I’m expecting a package. I think it’s not so much that I mind standing up and walking 30 steps to the front door, as that I hate the waste of time it would be to check for a package that I could determine from here has not been delivered yet.

So, eagerly expecting a package, I checked the UPS site. To my surprise, my friend tracking.cgi showed that the package was left on my front porch two hours before. I actually ran to the door, for this was an expensive package, an Apple Powerbook G4 (laptop)… but I didn’t see it on the porch. I came inside, turned around, went back outside and checked again. I know that’s the sort of thing George Carlin makes fun of, but I did it anyway. Still no package.

Next I checked the logfile from the motion sensor on my front porch. As far as it was concerned, no one had been out there all morning except for me (twice). This gave me some hope that the package had not been delivered. The other possibility, that it had been delivered and subsequently un-delivered, was nearly too unpleasant to consider.

I called UPS. They read me the same info I saw on their website, as if it was a revelation: “Says here the driver left it on your front porch. Did you check on your front porch?”

“Yes, twice, in fact.” I did not mention to her that I’d actually dug through a pile of empty cardboard boxes in the garage on the off chance that the UPS driver had hidden my package underneath.

The UPS phone rep had nothing else to offer me, except to recommend that I call back after the driver had returned to the warehouse, later that afternoon. At that time, apparently, more information would be available, perhaps including the address my package was really delivered to. Envisioning a delay of weeks while the vendor and UPS battle over who has to buy me a new laptop, I decided my best course would be to attempt to retrieve the MIA unit rather than wait for others to decide my fate. So I went up and down the block, scanning porches for suspicious boxes.

I knocked on one door a few houses up the street. I introduced myself to the owner, explained that I was missing a package, and after hearing his assurance that he had not seen my package I immediately began wondering if he’d already unpacked it and was at the very minute I knocked, editing some digital video using Apple’s bundled iMovie app.

Did I really believe that? No. But I was incensed by the idea that one of my neighbors might have swiped my new laptop. I wanted revenge, but I didn’t even know for sure that I had anything to want revenge for. Yes, I am a victim of my own rage… I am Jack’s flaming hypothalamus.

Later, after lunch, I was “strung out” in my hammock in the back yard. I heard, or thought I heard, a truck driving away. By sheer force of will, I ignored what might be an audible hallucination brought on by wishful thinking, or protein deficiency (sorry, sharp segue; that’s a meat joke).

My willpower lasted approximately 3.5 seconds. I leapt up and ran a few steps to where I could look up the driveway, and I thought I caught a glimpse of a familiar brown truck. Argh! I sprinted through the house, out the front door, and down the driveway. No sign of the truck! I was losing my mind, I was convinced. Also I was aware that some of my neighbors may have seen me peering at their front doors earlier, and now noticed me running full-tilt into the street to look wildly up and down at the complete lack of vehicles. So I turned back toward my house and as nonchalantly as I could, my gaze fixed firmly down where there would be no danger of making eye contact with anyone, I trudged up to the front porch, whereupon I nearly tripped over a large box that had materialized there.

I got a call from UPS later, from the account executive for the vendor that sold me the laptop. He explained that drivers sometimes “pre-sheet” deliveries, meaning that they enter their schedule of deliveries for the day into those wireless tablet computers before the deliveries are actually made. The problem with pre-sheeting is that the data hits the Internet within about 10 minutes of being entered, causing otherwise peaceable people like me to entertain revenge fantasies against their neighbors… clearly a bad thing.

So, happy ending: I got my laptop after all. But I sure can’t explain why there was a home movie of my neighbor on there when I first booted it up.

posted to channel: Personal
updated: 2004-02-22 22:49:16

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