They were there when I arrived home last night, and I thought, for a moment, that they had been sent by J., who has moved to Melbourne and called me earlier, asking if he could stash some books here. Which was fine, though I was sure, as I was looking at the boxes, that he said he'd be up next weekend. In the dark, I could even see his last name, typed clearly. Figuring I misunderstood, I picked them on, bought them in, and tossed him a message. They all weighed the same, a fact that hit me as I was off doing something else, so I returned, had another look at the label and saw they were from someone else entirely, but with the same last name as J. What are the odds, huh? Curious, I cut open one of the boxes, and found that it was filled with flyers for the British and American Tobacco Industry.
I am not, as may surprise you, the British and American Tobacco Industry.
Whatever, I thought, I'll give this number a call in the morning and have them picked up. There was easily a thousand or so dollars in the shiny flyers that had been made, and even though the address on the boxes were not mine, I figured someone would be grateful. Hell, perhaps they'd give me a cartoon of cigarettes that I could sell to some children for the random act of kindness that was part of our cold and callous world.
With that in mind, I called the company in the morning, and asked to be transferred the man with the same name as my friend. His line rang out, ended on an answering machine. I hung up, rang back, got the secretary again.
"Hey, I just called a moment ago," I said. "The line rang out, so I'm wondering if you could help me--I have these five boxes that are meant to be delivered to you sitting in my place."
She sympathised with me, and we swapped a few jokes, and I was transferred to the freight and delivery department. The woman who answered the phone this time did not sound as polite, and indeed, was going to prove not to be.
"Is there a freight number on it?"
I looked it over. "No, doesn't appear so."
"It's really hard for me to help you without a freight number."
"It's addressed to someone in your company."
I looked at the boxes. For a moment, I considered what possible uses there would be for five boxes of flyers that listed the pricing of cigarettes.
"No," I said. "Why do I want five boxes of flyers?"
"You're not a company?"
Do you think she gets many phone calls from other companies trying to unload unwanted boxes of flyers?
"No," I said.
"So you're a residential property?"
I'm a hobo, but I'm one of those hobos with fucking standards and don't want to wrap myself in your death merchandise. Instead, I said, "Yeah," because really, I don't care either way about smoking.
"You sure there's no freight number there?"
"No, it's just addressed to your man here."
"Can you hold for a moment."
I thought, as I looked down at these boxes, that I was kind of having to go through a lot just to let someone know that their delivery had gone astray and they could come and pick it up. Also, I don't know, but the vague insult that maybe I was trying to rip someone off by giving something back, it just sat a little poorly with me. This must be, I realised in that moment, why I didn't really go in for good deeds. If Superman was real, this would probably be his lot in life. He'd fly down, stop a plane from ploughing into the ground, rescuing hundreds of people, depositing them with gentle strength on the ground, only for the pilot to open the window and say, "Hey, mate, I don't suppose you could have made that rougher? I swear to God, if I had crashed into the ground, I think I would have shaken us less."
The woman appeared back on the phone, taking responsibility for the boxes. "I'll just grab your address and we'll send a courier out," she said.
"Yeah, okay. Look, I got to work in a bit. You alright if I leave them on the porch for you guys to pick up?"
"Sure, I'll just make a note for it."
It won't surprise you to learn that, when I returned home tonight, the five boxes were still there, untouched.