There are many things to love about living in a tiny country town. There’s a sense of belonging; everyone knows your crazy Cuzzin Mo and every funeral is well-attended. It’s quaint and quiet, except when the goats go on the warpath or the donkeys down the road get frisky. There’s civic pride, too, with down-home fish fries and roadside sign boards that say: “Congratulations, Missy, on your first kill.”
Christmas is lovely in our town; there are decorations on all the municipal buildings and streetlights (we have no traffic lights, but our yellow blinking caution light is jolly.) Residents decorate their yards and roofs and doors. There’s even a Christmas parade and a children’s festival at the Methodist church.
There is, however, one drawback to living in the boondocks this time of year. No deliveryman can find me.
Three weeks ago I impulsively ordered, from Amazon.com, a bottle of perfume I loved in my glory days. It was a great deal—half the price of a department store. (Which tells you why I haven’t worn it in 20 years.) And free shipping!
“Merry Christmas to me,” I said, and hit the “order” button.
Apparently the Grinch stole my perfume, because I still don’t have it.
I do, however, have a delightful new friend. I don’t know her name; in fact, I don’t know if it’s a her or him on the other end.
Here’s what happened: On Nov. 28 I ordered the perfume shipped to our street address and got an auto email reply saying it would arrive between Dec. 1 and Dec. 6.
On Dec. 7 I sent the company a polite email saying, “Where’s my smelly stuff?”
The reply: “Happy holidays! It appears there is a problem at your address.”
I wrote: “Well, we are half-cracked, but that’s the only problem. This house has been here for 95 years. Thanks for your prompt response. P.S. You can say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Really.”
The reply: “Merry Christmas! Your package was redirected. We are so sorry for this oversight and appreciate your patience at this busy time of year.”
On Dec. 10 I wrote, “Hark the herald! I don’t want to be under the mistletoe without my perfume. I wish to smell like joy and exaltation!”
The reply: “Joy to the world! We are mortified. We have talked to a (big brown truck) dispatcher twice today. Turns out they drove by your house approximately 17 times. Let Earth receive her king!”
On Dec. 12 I wrote, “Go tell it on the mountain that our house has a herd of goats in the yard. Can’t miss ‘em. Alleluia!”
The reply: “To our great chagrin, your order was returned to our warehouse last night. Allow us to re-ship it and we’ll refund $10 on your credit card. May all your Christmases be bright!”
I wrote: “Do you hear what I hear? Ka-ching! Thanks for refund. Will the perfume arrive before, say, spring of 2013?”
The reply: “One can only hope. O come, all ye faithful!”
By this time I was laughing even before opening the emails. I still don’t have the perfume but it’s been a most entertaining snafu--the cheeriest bad service I can recall.
As for you, dear reader… may all your Christmases be bright.
P.S. The perfume arrived on Dec. 14. When I showed Widdle he said, “That’s nice. Hey, I really should put up some house numbers.”
Julie R. Smith, who falls for witty emails any time of year, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.