I didn’t think much about the package left on my front porch the other evening. The side of the box displayed the logo of a large on-line distributor that I had ordered from a couple of years ago.
But once I opened the package, I became perplexed. Inside was a brown, twin-sized comforter, and that made no sense. The first anomaly, a big one for me, was that I didn’t remember ordering this brown comforter. Also odd was that I couldn’t recall the last time I had gone out to this particular company’s website.
As I thought about the twin comforter, I did a mental inventory and concluded that the only twin bed in my home belongs to my teenage son. And while I don’t to pretend to know everything that goes on in that mind of his, I happened to know from his own mouth that he likes the comforter on his bed.
Another peculiarity involved the color. I’m not a fan of brown. In fact, I don’t even consider brown a color as much as a consequence of what happens when kids play in the sandbox wearing clothing that had at one time been white.
So I went to the company’s website and clicked on a window that said CHAT WITH US.
Brandi: Thanks for shopping with us. In what way may I best serve you?
Me: You’re welcome, I think. But I don’t remember shopping with you. And yet, I have a brown, twin comforter here in a box with my name on it.
Brandi: I see. (But that statement didn’t convince me that Brandi DID see my point)
Me: (Trying a little humor) Unless I got very drunk, so drunk that I don’t even remember that I had a drink, I don’t think I ordered this.
Brandi: Yes, that would be most unfortunate. Let me see if it is possible that I may be of assistance to you.That’s when it then dawned on me that the Brandi may have missed the class called “Understanding American Attempts at Humor” that had been offered in her Bangalore office the previous week.
Me: Yes, that would have been most unfortunate, indeed.
Brandi: Can I have your order number, please?
Me: You can have the number printed on the slip, but I’m not comfortable with you calling it MY order number. Because, as I may have mentioned, I didn’t order this.
Something must have gone wrong with the technology, because the chat window disappeared.
The next morning, I saw the box on my table, and I decided to try again. This time, I called the number on the website.
“Hello, this is Lori. How can I help you today?”
I placed the accent as northern Texas or southern Oklahoma. I gave Lori the order number, and I explained that I don’t have a twin bed, nor do I like the color brown. Then I tried my little “unless I got very drunk” line again.
Lori giggled and replied, “I know, right? Who would order a brown comforter?”
So of course, I liked Lori.
But alas, she couldn’t tell me why this order showed up on my account or why I had received this item. So she transferred me to Quality Assurance Supervisor, Burt.
Burt took all of my information, and after doing some checking, he told me he found no problems with the security of my account. Before hanging up, he promised to do some more digging and then call me back.
I ran some errands, and when I returned home, I checked voice mail.
“Hi, Mr. Carbonara (pronounced by Burt CarBONE-uh-RU). About this order, it wasn’t charged to your account. It was charged to a credit card in the name of (insert name here). Does he live with you? Anyway, if you know this gentleman, you might check with him to see if he ordered it for you as a gift. If not, just call me back at (number).”
Curiouser and curiouser. I didn’t know a man by that name. And based on how Burt pronounced the name, it didn’t sound like someone I would hang out with, even on a dare.
The only conclusion I could draw was that some man had parked in front of my house, used binoculars to scope out my furniture, and then bought me a brown comforter based on the shabby conditions he saw through the window. Or perhaps this box was a scouting expedition. The next package would be big enough to conceal a man. Since I brought the other box inside without questioning it, the man would hide inside and jump out to cut my throat when I opened it.
While pondering my impending death, I checked email. And that’s when I saw a message from a friend who said, “Ok, I am an idiot. When I sent you that book last month, I changed my shipping address on this distributor’s website so it would go directly to you. I forgot to change the address back, so it got saved as my default. Did you happen to get a brown twin comforter?”
No man stalked me. No weirdo with binoculars plotted the redecoration of my home. No one thought enough of me to send me a “just because” gift of warmth for the holidays.
Instead, a woman with a gender-neutral name, a name terribly mispronounced by the Quality Assurance Supervisor, had sent me a book a month ago. And through cookies on a website that saved my address, I might have received all of her packages for the holiday season.
My first response to learning this? WHEW! That soon got replaced with SIGH! Yeah, turns out, my cats really liked that brown comforter, almost as much as they liked the box it came in.
If any of the rest of you plan on ordering books for me on-line, be sure to change your address back to your own when you’re done. Because if you were to place an order a week later for, say, a black comforter…or a plasma screen TV…that got redirected to me in error, I will never tell you.