Ever wondered, in amidst the hysteria about unattended packages, and the entreaties from our government to be alert, not alarmed, just how a package comes to be unattended in the first place? I have. I’ve often thought, well, that’s just silly. No one actually leaves packages behind, do they? What? You forget when you stand up from that park bench that only moments before you were hefting a big cardboard box full of Christmas lights and plastic reindeer? Really? How do you leave that behind? At the very least, wouldn’t you trip over it as you went to walk blithely away? Doesn’t everyone do a pat-down and a bag count before they move an inch, or is that just me? Don’t you look back, admittedly a little compulsively, just to make sure? How many unattended bags and packages have you seen recently? That’s right: none. I just couldn’t figure it out. I always know exactly how many bags I’m holding. The only time I’ve ever lost anything was when my wallet was stolen clean out of my hand in Barcelona. I’d had too many sangrias and some swarthy spivs followed us back to our hostel, pouncing as I grappled with my key. Enough said.
So I was pretty flabbergasted when Llew met up with me the other night and said that between leaving work and meeting me at Circular Quay, he’d lost my package. This package was and shall apparently remain a complete mystery to me. I don’t know who sent it. I don’t know what it contained. All I know is Llew collected it from our GPO box because he’s the one who’s in town every day, and then lost it. There was an interim period of a couple of days. He called me up after collecting it.
“You’ve got a package,” he said.
“Really? Cool! What is it? Who’s it from?”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t say. The customs declaration says ‘ceramic,’ and I think I can hear something loose inside.”
“Ceramics? What could it be? And it doesn’t say who it’s from?”
“No,” he said. “But it’s postmarked USA and Belgium. Who do we know in Belgium?”
“Fernando. But they’ve just had their second child. They’ve got better things to do than send me a new coffee mug through the post.”
“Actually the box is the right size for a big coffee cup.”
“Cool. Exciting! I haven’t had anything cool through the post for years! I can’t remember the last time I got something fun!”
Llew gets home and my eyes go straight to his empty hands.
“Where’s my package?”
He looked down too. Turned ’em over, looked closer, brought them right up to his sheepish face.
“Oh,” he said. “I had to do the thing with the guy at the place and…”
“You couldn’t be bothered bringing it home.”
I called him at work the next day.
“Could you please bring my box home tonight?”
“What? Oh yeah, the box. Yep. Sure thing. It’s right here.”
I can’t remember if it was that day or the next that I ended up meeting him in town to go home together. But either way, I had my box on the brain, so when he turned up without it, it wasn’t long before I noticed.
“Didn’t I bring it in here?” he said, looking around. We were in the ABN AMRO building because I’d just popped in to see a friend.
“But I had it when I left work…”
“I saw you through the window,” I said. “Waiting at the lights. You weren’t holding anything except the paper. Retrace your steps. Did you stop anywhere?”
“So it must be at work.”
“I could have sworn I walked out with it…”
“Then where is it?”
“I don’t know…”
I thought, well, if he didn’t stop, and he came straight here, then it’s at work. I called him at work the next day.
“Can you please bring my package home tonight?”
“The what? Oh, your package. Sure, sure.”
He called back.
“It’s not here,” he said. “It’s not here. It’s gone. I could’ve sworn I took it with me last night, but I don’t know where it went.”
My brow puckered.
“Did you stop?”
“I don’t think so…”
“You must have stopped. You must have put it down somewhere. Because otherwise you would have been holding it when you got to Circular Quay.”
“It’s not here.”
“That’s just great,” I fumed. I was really pissed off at this point. “Well that’s just perfect. Thank you very much. Can you imagine if I was this careless with something of yours? No, you can’t, because it wouldn’t happen in a million fucking years. I can’t believe this.”
Click. That’s right. I hung up on him, and I’d do it again.
I ranted to myself for a good long while afterwards. I was so dark about my missing box. I was absolutely fuming with Llew. Where was it? What happened to it? Had it gone to a good home? Or was it lying abandoned somewhere, scuffed and dented? Who was it from? And what the hell was it, anyway? And then I turned my thoughts to my unreliable and careless husband, who really didn’t get a gold star from me that day. I just couldn’t stand the idea that he couldn’t remember what he did with it. It still drives me spare. What do you mean? I wanted to scream, shaking him by the lapels. Who does that? Who the fuck does that? Who puts down a WHOLE BOX and walks away without a backward glance? Tell me? Who?
Well, now I have the answer for you. Llew.
“And if some good samaritan happens to resend it,” I barked, “just leave it there, would you? I’ll pick it up myself. Really. Don’t do me any favours.”
See how well that worked out for him in the end? Because really, let’s face it, he didn’t want to carry it around in the first place.