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I had had enough of the running around, the missed calls, the signed cards: I had had it with the second guessing, hiding behind my curtains and hearing nothing but the busy signal. If they couldn’t deliver my package on time, I would simply go and collect it from the depot myself.
I had no idea what the package was. The whole ordeal had been going on for about two months now. A purple card had showed up on my doorstep, so I had gone online, filled in my details then waited in the next morning. Despite sitting in from 8am until 1pm, no delivery was even attempted. Yet when I whirled downstairs to head to work, now much later than I had negotiated with my boss, having run upstairs to get a coat, a note was waiting on the front door rug for me, bold and purple and smug, with a passive aggressive apology about my own absence.
A similar incident had occured a week later. I was still packageless, and the cards had increased in frequency, sometimes two would be waiting, wedged through the letterbox. I had phoned. Of course I had phoned. The number wasn’t toll free though, so I was forced, through a matter of finance, to call from my work phone in the later afternoons when people in the office were too tired and bored to eavesdrop on me. I’d go through the menus- my God I’d been through them well enough to know how to get through- 4, pause for two seconds, 1, pause for one second, 1, pause for two seconds, 3. Then there’d be a clunk a snapping noise and a pre recorded voice would intone coldly “You are being transferred to The Operator.” After that, the sound of a phone ringing, ever so slightly echoey, and occassionaly, and not in any regular intervals as far as I had been bothered to calculate, the sound of that voice again, “You are being transferred to The Operator.” I had never been able to connect to a human being: just that voice, a pre-record, or the automated Lady of the Option Menu. My record for holding on this line was 47 minutes. Funny thing was, it hadn’t felt that long. I’d rung up on that occasion on a Wednesday about ten to six, and sat half distracted by invoices with the work phone cradled between my cheek and shoulder, and I guess that voice must have had a slightly hypnotic quality to it, irregularly reminding me that the transfer was in process, and the mythical Operator was expecting me, I suppose. When I snapped out of it, it was only because the cleaning staff came in and started emptying the bins noisily.
I went home, and resolved I would simply visit the depot myself on Friday after work – it was open until 7pm according to that damned purple card, and just on the edge of town. Not the most celebratory way to end the working week, but it wasn’t as if I had any plans anyway. I’d been too busy at work, and too distracted lately to go out with friends.
The depot was completely dark when I arrived in good time for closing. It was a single lock up with a parking lot. Other traders on the site had already departed for the weekend, and the lamps were still sodium in this part of town: everything was a queasy yellow. I squinted at the address on the purple card, now a lurid brown in this light, and confirmed I was in the right part of town. I sat in my car and tried the number again. I could hear the phone ring inside the depot. Then someone picked up and the shrill tone stopped abruptly.
And this time the response was live, though it was the same voice and phrase I had heard before:
“You are being transferred to The Operator.”
They hung up.
I got out of the car and tried ringing again, but now my call went back to the normal menu: I was reconnected to the Lady of the Option Menu, who seemed as pleased as ever to see me, which was not very much. The phone inside the building did not ring. I waited for a few minutes, but no sign of life stirred and a sudden gale started up. I drove home in good time: there was no traffic to speak of.
When I got home there was a card waiting for me: but it wasn’t a missed delivery. It stated that a collection would be made in the next few hours. So I decided to wait for them to come and collect. I think that perhaps after all the delivery has been made: I don’t feel as if I am missing anything any more. The neighbours aren’t in, and my friends won’t return my calls, and the internet forums I frequent seem quiet even for a Friday. So I’ve finished writing this, and I’m sat cross legged, waiting by the threshold ready to be collected. And when I lean my head against the door I think I can hear someone on the other side who has been waiting a long time too. Waiting to, at last, speak to a real person.
Credit To – pageantmalarkey