Knock Knock

The FedEx man liked my rug. “I like your rug,” he said, handing over my package.

He obviously hadn’t read the delivery manual. Knock on door extremely loudly, turn on heel immediately to walk back to van, turn back when door opens as if thought of leaving hadn’t entered head, check name (mispronouncing if possible), proffer electric signature thing, glance at wobbly signature showing signs of early-onset MS, shake head almost imperceptibly, hand over parcel (or, if heavy, place parcel on but never actually over threshold), return to van. Repeat.

Talking isn’t part of the deal. So this conversation taking a distinctly Laurence Llewelyn Bowen turn threw me completely. The too-big-for-the-letterbox service exists solely to bring me Scandinavian murder books, CDs to replace the vinyl copies that I’ve got but can’t be arsed to play, occasional electronic gizmos and, on depressing days, printer cartridges or Hoover bags.

What next? Parcel Force doubling up as a find-a-friend organisation? DHL to become slightly sweaty pioneers of doorstep dating? TNT to lay on brief courses in conversational French?

“Thank you,” I said. He nodded approvingly as he retrieved his device, but made no move. It seemed that more was required. “I, um, got it at a local shop.”

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Such wit. Such invention. Such flair. I made Jimmy Krankie look like Jeremy Paxman.

Somewhere inside him a little light died. The only island of solace, his sad eyes seemed to say, in a life spent grinding gears in the worst of the traffic through all kinds of weather to deliver anonymous packages to people who barely look me in the face is to engage in a little conversation on a human-to-human level once in a while and to transcend this mundane, humdrum, workaday existence and celebrate the beauty of the little things in life in a moment shared with another traveller on this huge and lonely world we all inhabit.

I didn’t care. He may have liked my rug. But he didn’t say a word about my wallpaper.

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