I know he’s out there. Watching. Waiting, exercising Zen patience. I know the Delivery Rules.
First Rule: inconvenience the customer as significantly as possible.
It’s not about profit and loss or corporate vision and mission statements. It’s about people with power. They have the package. I want the package. So they have the power.
Oh, delicious power, how they love watching me leap up when a truck passes my house. “Is that it?” they mock, imagining my voice, bringing up their super-powerful binoculars to see my disappointment, laughing as they finger a few more drooping French fries into their mouth.
They don’t know that I know the rules. I’m aware of them and their delivery watch. “Keep hidden,” I tell my wife. “Don’t go past any windows.”
“This is ridiculous,” she answers.
“Shhh,” I hiss, pointing up. “They’re listening.”
She stares at me.
I explain, “They’ll know you’re here. We want them to think we’re not home or can’t come to the door.”
Amazement disturbs her gaze. “And why do we care if they know I’m here?”
“Shhh.” I look out the windows. Of course I can’t see a delivery vehicle. They’re not fools. They cloak the van with invisibility so they can stay out there, watching, without being detected, until they believe I’m not home or available and ‘attempt’ delivery. I know how this works.
I move closer to my wife so I can whisper. “They’re out there. They’re waiting for me to leave or take a shower. Then they’ll ring the bell. I won’t hear it so they’ll leave a notice and try again tomorrow. That’s how they get you.”
She stares at me. I don’t know what that look means. “How do I fit into this?” she asks in a Very Normal Tone.
Her refusal to keep her voice down disturbs me. “Quiet,” I hiss. “Come on. What’re you trying to do?” Realizations penetrate my thinking. “They got to you, didn’t they?”
Her eyes widen. “Who?”
But I get it. I understand. “Never mind.” I smile. “I was just joking.” I let slip laughter. “Pretty convincing, wasn’t I?”
She doesn’t seem convinced but I put her behind me and leave the room. Out there, in the living-dining-kitchen great room, I pace and pace, trying to figure out what I can do.
But it doesn’t matter. They have her. They’ve already won the day. Yet, I can’t give up. Not that easily. I’ve been playing the game too long. This isn’t my first delivery. “I’m going to take a shower,” I call, very loudly.
“Okay,” she answers, a mumble.
I go into the master bath and turn on the shower, hoping to fool them, and then slip into the hall to get to the front door to wait. I meet my wife coming down the hall. She looks startled. “I thought you were taking a shower.”
Checking on me. Oh, I get it. I smile. “I am.”
“But you have all your clothes on.”
I nod. “I know.”
Shaking her head, she walks past, saying, “I think you need to relax.”
Relax, oh, they’d like that. Hearing her turn off the water, I run back into the bathroom. “What are you doing?”
“You’re wasting water,” she replies.
Pushing past her, I turn the water back on. She’s talking but I can’t understand her. “What?” I ask. She’s talking again but I still can’t understand her. “What?” I shake my head. “I can’t hear you. You’re talking too low.”
Diversion, I realize, and then the phone rings. The rules require them to ring the doorbell, but if I don’t hear it or answer in time, they leave – and then they won. “Was that the doorbell?” I run for the door and yank it open as my wife answers the phone.
A notice hangs from the door handle. I rush out to see if I spot the truck, a rookie error born from frustration. They already cloaked the truck. Nobody can hear or see it now.
“Did your computer come?” My wife asks from behind me.
I smile without looking back. “No. They left a notice.” I go back in past her, glancing at her face. They got to her. I see it in her brown eyes. I don’t know how. Probably bribed her with a discount coupon for shoes.
“I’m sorry,” she says, closing the door, but there’s no sorrow in her voice.
“That’s okay,” I answer with false cheerfulness. “There’s always tomorrow.”
Yes, there’s always tomorrow, when we’ll play again. I know the rules.
Someday, I’ll win.