Home Delivery

I recently came across this bit I wrote in college. Made me laugh, so here you go.

No, I’m not talking about giving birth.  I’m talking about The Wall Street Journal.  I recently began receiving this wonderful publication when a subscription to it was strongly recommended to me by my marketing professor in exchange for a passing grade in his class.  I immediately agreed to these terms and gave the bill to my dad.
The Wall Street Journal comes once every business day.  Really, really early every business day.  Sometimes it is so early that it gets here yesterday.  Punctuality for this organization does not seem to be a problem.
The impressive thing about The Wall Street Journal is the customer service.  If you think a retail store lacks customer service, be thankful The Wall Street Journal doesn’t run the place.  They take the concept to a whole new level.
The first day I received The Wall Street Journal, it came folded in my mailbox.  The next day it was waiting for me in the driveway.  On the third day, it was also in the driveway, but encased in a bag.  Where it got crazy was the fourth day.  I woke up and discovered a mint on my pillow.  Startled, I sat up…to find the paper on a tray next to my bed…with a steaming cup of doctored coffee…and a Danish…all accompanied by a handwritten note that read, “Enjoy!”
While convenient, the polite intrusion was still very unsettling.  However, this perk was easy to grow accustomed to.  The nice invisible people of The Wall Street Journal were doing their best to make sure that I got the most out of my subscription.
One night after class, I was heading to my car to go home after a long day.  As I put the keys in the door lock, I felt a sharp jab in the small of my back.  While inexperienced in such matters, it did not take a genius to conclude that this was the business end of a handgun.  I froze as a gruff voice commanded, “Give me the keys and be quick about it.”
What happened next is hard to describe.  There was the sound of a painful grunt and an aborted cry.  Then there was a soft thud and a quick flurry of movement.  I still had not moved, and was very frightened, to say the least.  After the movement subsided, there was silence for a moment, and then a piece of paper came fluttering down onto the hood of my car.  I picked it up and read, “It’s safe.  Have a nice night and sleep well!”  I slowly turned around and saw my would-be assailant on the ground about ten feet away, hog-tied and gagged.  Not that it mattered, because he was out cold.  Until then, I didn’t know that The Wall Street Journal included tae kwan do in the training for delivery people.
After a couple more weeks, another unexpected event occurred.  It was a cold November morning, and I was getting ready to head to work.  As I approached my car, I noticed that the windows were scraped and the engine was running.  I slowed my stride and took a cautious glance around the neighborhood as I opened my car door.  The heater had already done its job.  I cleared the seat of the packed lunch (!) and took my seat behind the wheel.  I noticed the note, timidly picked it up, and read, “Have a wonderful day.”

I guess you could say that I’m really enjoying my mysterious subscription to The Wall Street Journal.  The birthday presents (a La-Z-Boy and bigger coffee mug, for a more enjoyable Wall Street Journal reading) were a nice touch.  The oil changes don’t go unnoticed.  It doesn’t even bother me anymore that I still have yet to meet the delivery person.  What bothers me is how this nice, caring and thoughtful stalk- uh, person (and his employer!) is going to take the news.  You see, I’m finally canceling my subscription to The Wall Street Journal…due to the fact that I’ve never sat down and read it.

What's the best/creepiest customer service you've ever received?

Packin’ It





“Hiking boots and extra socks?”

“Check…unless you want clean ones.”

“Ben-Gay and other assorted pain-relieving medicines?”


We were about to embark on a dangerous and exciting mission.  One that would change our lives forever.  One that would make us men.

“But I don’t want to be a man,” whined my sister.  She was always whining about things like that.  My mom, who looked forward to our yearly trip with great anticipation, said, “Enjoy your back-packing trip.  HA!  I don’t have to go traipsing through the mud and muck!  My brain is functioning just fine!  I get the house all to myself for two whole days!”

“What, dear?” asked my dad.

“I said to enjoy your backpacking trip with our kids, honey.  I hope you have a fun time!”

“Oh.  I thought you said something else.  Was that a snicker?”

“You must be hearing things.  Off you go now!  Bye!  Suckers!”

The five of us – one Dad, one sister, two brothers and one Yours Truly – piled into our bright orange Volkswagon van.  (My friends and I would later come up with a song for our beloved van:
“Ora-nge jalopy, orange-orange jalopy.  Jalopy!”)

We were off for the boonies; also known as the Sandia Mountains (Sandia means “the place of hot uphill travel and softball-sized mosquitoes”).  Here we would brave the elements and my dad’s crunchy green macaroni for two days of backpacking.

Yes, I said backpacking, not camping.

I do not go camping.  Lazy, smart people go camping.  I, being neither lazy nor smart, go backpacking.  What’s the difference, you ask?  Pipe down, I’m getting there.

Camping is when you city pansies decide to “harmonize with God’s gift of Nature” and “get away from it all”.  Which you promptly do by taking it all with you in your SUV’s as you head for the hills.  Showers, TV’s, La-Z-Boys, butlers.  All these comforts of home are as easily available as a portable hotel room.  There are flocks of families reclining in the mountains ordering catered room service while watching HBO.

Backpacking is when you park your beat-up VW van at the base of the mountain and hike your jug of water and box of macaroni and cheese up the face of your local Mt. Everest.  Backpacking is trying to find a flat, treeless plot of ground on which to pitch your tent before it gets dark.  Backpacking is when you fail to get it up in time and tempers grow short as you miss the tent stakes and hit your thumbs with the rock you’re using because you don’t have a hammer with you because you left it in the orange jalopy.

Campers wake up in the early hours of the afternoon to hot coffee and pastries served in bed.  Then they read the paper for the stock market report and then move on to a hot shower.  They make sure to share their lovely rap music and beer cans with the rest of us.  No one ever said they weren’t nice!

Backpackers wake up in the dead of night with a bladder problem that needs direct attention.  We muster our courage and make a run for the nearest tree.  We don’t find it; it finds us – right in the nose.  After picking our whimpering, bare-foot, frozen selves off the icy tundra, we fix the problem at hand and follow the skunk tracks back to the tent.  We then stand at frozen attention until sunrise when the skunk gets out of our sleeping bag, stretches, and wanders off to find better accommodations.   My sister says, “Next time we’re bringing the hotel room.  Boy, was it c-cold last night!  What’s for b-breakfast?”

Then we eat cold oatmeal, pack up our two items (tent and pack, no hammer), wave goodbye to the skunk, and stagger back down the mountain to our orange jalopy, which, if we’re lucky, will run long enough to take us back to Mom.

What were your outdoor family traditions?

The Investigators

We were on the lookout.  There was a job to be done, and we were setting out to do it.  We had to go undercover, you see, because there were criminals on the loose.  A gang of the ‘bad ones’ had busted loose and had yet to be recaptured.  What was unfortunate for those on the lam was the fact the local paper had printed mug shots of each on the front page and now we were on the case.  We were bounty hunters, so to speak, minus the bounty.  Our community needed us and we were happy to oblige.  We were both armed to the teeth and had clever disguises designed to make us look innocent enough.
There was no discussion about what needed doing.  Each knew what the other thought and agreed, so we hit the streets at an early hour.  As we rode through the dry summer heat of the desert, our spirits waned from the initial excitement and eagerness of the hunt.  Sightings were few and far between.  There were fruitlessly searched miles behind us, and an inexhaustible supply of fresh ones ahead. 
Our pace slowed to a crawl.  Our throats were parched and our muscles cramped.  Without warning, one of our tires blew.  Our failure seemed secured.  That’s when we saw your place, ma’am.  At first, we were certain it was a mirage.  The heat waves distorted our view.  You were no mirage, though, ma’am. 
You were a Godsend.  As we pushed our crippled ride into your driveway, you met us halfway with iced lemonade.  With sweat dripping off our youthful faces, we drank your refreshments and sat on your weeds.  We filled you in on the days’ events.  And now here we are, ma’am.  We appreciate your kindness and hospitality, ma’am.  What was that?  Why, yes, I can fix the flat on my bicycle.  I’ve been doing it since I was six, ma’am.  Pardon me, ma’am?  Yes, I’ll be seven this fall.  My friend here is seven and he lives next door to me and he has a pet turtle and a big brother. Are we far from home, ma’am?  Why, no, we’re not.  See down the street where that red house is with the swing hanging from the tree?  That’s my place, ma’am.  It’s where my mother lives, too.  Yes, ma’am, I’ll tell my mother where we were and that you said hello.
Well, I guess we’ll be on our way, now, ma’am.  Thank you very much for the lemonade.  I think the bad guys got a lucky break today.  What’s that, ma’am?  You say the bad guys turned themselves in this afternoon?  Those scoundrels must have known we were on their trail, huh?  Well, you know what they say, ma’am - the truth always comes out in the end.

Were you a child superhero too?