Friday, 15 April 2016

Pass the Parcel

You know when you arrive home and find that package you ordered from Amazon waiting, did you ever stop to consider the journey it has taken, or the people it encountered on the way. Yes, it might be a dull brown box but when you think about it, that innocent little box has a secret life you know nothing about. You may have been the spark that gave birth to its journey, and you will be the one to rip it asunder in its final moments, but what about the middle?

I got to thinking about this because of a story my mother told me the other day, and I thought it might strike a cord with some of you.

Recently, my Mom has been getting a lot of packages delivered to the house, some ordered by my Dad for one job or another, but most of them she ends up minding for neighbours who are out working.

The man who delivers the parcels is quite elderly, and in a past life was one of the post men for the area, an old school delivery man you might say. The man has become a regular sight standing on our doorstep exchanging a few words with my Mom over assorted packages. Anyway, Dad had been having trouble with condensation building up in their car and sourced some Silica to fix the issue. With one click the order rolled into life in a factory thousands of miles away, and the hidden journey of this brown package began. 

It took a couple of weeks for the package to arrive and by the time it did, my Mother had forgotten all about it. Mid-morning one Tuesday the doorbell chimed. My Mom went to open the door, wiping flour from her dough speckled hands with a tea-towel.

"Morning, Missus. Package for you," said the delivery man, getting her to sign for the padded envelope in his hand. As she printed out her name, the man turned the package over and over in his hands, looking at it quizzically. When he handed it over he looked at her earnestly and asked, "What’s in it anyway?"

Now, my Mom is a trusting sort of woman and would read nothing into such a question, where I might be shocked at the man's nosiness. She took the package in her hand, looking at my Dad's name the label and said, "Lord, I've no idea, why?"

"It's just that me and the lads at the depot were all trying to figure out what's inside, and it’s got us stumped. Seems to be squishy but then there are loads of little balls," said the delivery man, holding out his hand to give the package a squeeze in demonstration.

As my Mom, and the delivery man stood kneading and fondling the innocent little package, realization stuck.

"Ah! It’s the stuff for the condensation."

"The what?"

"The condensation in the car, look," said my Mom, pointing at the fogged up windows on the car in the driveway.

"You're joking?"

"Nope, found it on the internet. Apparently it will soak up all the moisture on the air and get it out of the car."

"Jesus, what will they think of next," said the old man scratching his head. He began walking away when he stopped and turned. "Why don't yea bring the car back to the garage and get them to fix it?"

"Ah, its a lot of bother for a little mist. We will give this stuff a go first."

The man waved and walked away down the drive, with his hands stuffed into his pockets, his clipboard wedged under his arm, lazily taking in the fine spring day God had blessed them with. My Mom closed the door and thought nothing more about the whole thing. When she told my Dad, he could not figure out which was stranger, the fact the guys in the transport depo were feeling everyone's parcels to guess what people were ordering, or that the old guy was so perplexed by the package he actually asked what was in it. 

A few weeks after, the same man ended up at our house with a neighbours package.  As my Mom signed for it the man demanded, "Did the balls work?"

Most middle aged Irish women are not in the habit of discussing balls, working or not, with near strangers on the doorstep. The confused look on her face must have betrayed her shock as the man clarified himself saying, "For the car, did the balls work?"

"Oh the condensation? Yes actually, they did," said my more than relieved Mom.

"Well I never, mist drinking balls, what next?" he said with a jaunty salute, and strutted back to his van full of yet to be guessed mysteries. 

So the next time your delivery man gives you a look when getting you to sign for a package, give it a good squeeze, because sure as Billyo, he did.

If you enjoyed this why not try out some more tales from the Irish Countryside.

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