Val makes the majority of her gift purchases online these days. The most strenuous part of her shopping is wondering the method of transport that will bring the Christmas joy to her homestead. Could be UPS (Unqualified People Shipping), could be FedEx (Feeding us Excrement), could be the USPS (Unhelpful Service People Snots). Just simply receiving the package is like a scavenger hunt. Will I find it in the garage? On the front porch? On top of the Olds Toronado? After dark? The next morning? In the lock boxes with a key in EmBee's gullet? At the dead mouse smelling post office after turning in an orange card? One a day? Three or four a day? The possibilities are astounding.
Two weeks ago I was happy to see that one of Genius's very special items had shipped. He only asked for two things, since he's getting a trip to the west coast that starts with a flight out on New Year's Eve. AND he said he didn't expect to get both items, because the trip was enough. To surprise him. Of course Val couldn't let her boy go through Christmas with only one gift under the tree. I did some virtual shopping, and found a present suited for the future young professional.
I had some errands to run that day, and returned home at 12:15 with my missions accomplished and a 44 oz Diet Coke and a Hardee's Chicken Bowl for sustenance. As I came up the driveway, I saw my Sweet, Sweet Juno, Puppy Jack, and Copper the Neighbor Dog laying in the front yard. Immediately upon seeing me, Juno and Jack chased Copper across the driveway and under the barbed wire fence that separates our properties. Heh, heh. They're regular Eddie Haskells, those fleabags of mine. Frolicking with Copper while I'm away, and then pretending to protect the homestead from him when I come back.
I pulled over sideways in the front yard to take a picture of Hick's balls. The giant Christmas ornaments he hung from the carport. The dogs did not like this much. It's not part of the routine where I fold in T-Hoe's mirrors, open the garage door, pull inside, then emerge through the people door to give them each a handful of cat kibble. Juno sat down and looked at me. Jack ran around to the other side and grabbed a toy or animal part or piece of neighbor's trash to play with.
Picture taken and sent to myself, I turned to see where Jack was before steering T-Hoe in a half circle back to the driveway. There he was. Romping and shaking his head and worrying something floppy in his jaws. Prancing around. Parading his spoils like a furry Tom Sawyer whitewashing Aunt Polly's fence, showing the world how very much fun he was having.
Wait a minute. What WAS that in Jack's mouth? It almost looked like--
"JACK! Come here! JACK!"
Jack trotted in front of T-Hoe and around to my door, where he stood wagging his ropelike tail expectantly. No sign of anything in his jaws.
I had T-Hoe's tires back on the driveway, the mirrors in, and was pushing the garage door opener when I let the HORROR flood through my mind.
That thing Jack had been playing with looked a lot like...a wallet! Maybe he had found an old one in somebody's yard. Or maybe someone had lost a wallet down in the woods. The more I tried to justify what Jack had in his mouth now again, romping closer and closer to the garage, the more I felt like this was the worst case scenario. Jack had found a wallet all right. Genius's gift wallet made of Bison leather, monogrammed, with RFID blocker, from Sharper Image, due for delivery that very day!
I parked and came out the big garage door onto the concrete. Walked across the gravel by the carport. Hollered for Jack. He had come running down to see the garage door open. He likes to dart in there and torment the cat that growls at him and spurns his humping advances. Jack came around the side of the garage. Mouth empty.
"Where is it, Jacky Boy? What did you have? Huh? Where is it?"
I went about five strides into the yard and found it. Huh. No way. Just an old wallet. Soggy from Jack's saliva. I turned it over in my hands. Went on up where I first saw Jack with that object. There were some white paper scraps.
I turned the wallet over again. Where I could just make out the monogram.
I bent over and tapped a wriggling, joyous Jack on the nose with the spoils. "NO! JACK, NO! BAD DOG!" It didn't seem to faze him. I hurried inside. Just sick. Not only for the cost (though I had enough in scratcher winnings to cover it), but for the thought that I would never get another one in time for Christmas. I called Hick at work and sobbed on his long-distance shoulder.
"That dog. He's into everything."
"I'm going to look at the tracking and see where they left it. How could Jack get it? It wasn't even in a BOX! Just a paper envelope!"
"All you can do is see where they left it, and call FedEx."
"I'm sure that will go over well, after you complained when the driver tore up the yard and left those ruts a foot deep."
"They ought to be happy. They were going to pay for a landscaper. I got a roller and fixed it myself."
"I'm sure they won't do anything. They left it, and OUR dog ate it. But it's just a phone call."
I spent 30 minutes on the phone with a guy who spoke mostly English. He wanted to fax me a claim form. Yeah, right. Like Val understands the faxing routine. So he said he'd mail it. Don't know why they couldn't sent it in an email. He wanted an item number and description. Said I'd get those papers in 5-7 business day. I haven't seen them yet.
With my luck, the claim forms are probably in that USPS time warp where The Pony's letter with his October monthly expense check is currently cooling its heels.
Meanwhile, I got online and ordered another wallet made of Bison leather, monogrammed, with RFID blocker, from Sharper Image. That's a