Most days at work I collect the mail in the first floor in-basket. Most of the mail is addressed to my boss, Elsbeth. A week or two ago I noticed the April issue of Harper’s magazine in our in-basket.
It was not addressed to Elsbeth but I figured that Stu, her husband and the company founder, put it there intentionally. It’s not my style to question what motivates him to do what he does as I am sure he welcomes my indifference. Yet, had he left a live hand grenade in our in-basket I still might not have questioned Stu himself, but I would have been compelled to ask one of his Yes Men about that along with enforcing a dictate of my own:
Me: One of you guys bring that up to her.
When I would reach my office wearing my Minister of Watch Dogging chapeau, I would go straight to my Lord and Master yapping:
Me: Hey Elsbeth, one of Stu’s Yes Men is coming up here with a live hand grenade for us. Do we really want that on our floor?
Questions like that to my superior either emit a twenty second long sigh of extreme annoyance or a short, sharp outburst:
Apparently, the April issue of Harper’s that was passed onto her was not intended for us. Almost two weeks after I retrieve it Elsbeth asks me:
Elsbeth: Would you like this issue of Harper’s?
I avert my gaze from the pigeon on the sill that appears to be mocking me and turn my attention to my chief.
Elsbeth: The letter carrier delivered it to us by mistake.
The alarm bells ring in my head.
Elsbeth hands me the magazine and returns to her office, satisfied that I accept her offering but I have a hidden agenda. I look at the address label. It was meant for a guy named David who resides two doors down from my company. Every so often, the magazines I subscribe to, all with New York in the title – The New Yorker, New York Magazine and Time Out New York, go missing. I have called my post office about this and complained. As they insist that I did receive my issue of New York, I have to remind them that I want to know what happened to my missing copy of The New Yorker. I have also directly confronted my letter carrier, a very nice woman when encountered face to face, but a side of me wonders if she would love to posit this question to my kisser:
My Very Nice Letter Carrier: You crazy bitch, why the hell do you have to subscribe to every fuckin’ magazine in the world with New York in the title?
Yet, my letter carrier has made a better effort to deliver my magazines in recent months, but when an issue does go missing, if she happens to stick it in the wrong mailbox, does the neighbor that gets it keep it? If so, I think that exploiting her mistake for personal gain is theft. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience keep David’s issue of Harper’s. If I can return his magazine to him, maybe someone that gets one of my misdelivered magazines will finally do a first in my building, in the almost 30 years I’ve resided there, grow a solitary brain cell of consideration and return it to me, the rightful owner. The cynic in me, that coincidentally happens to be about 98% of my person, thinks I will sooner be the lynchpin that brokers peace in the Middle East on my lunch hour before that ever happens.
Back to David, I don my Detective Cap, type his name and address in Google, hit the enter key, and voila, I discover his email address.
I share the situation with my Special Someone.
SS: Give it back to your mail carrier. Let them deal with it.
Me: Trust the incompetent mail carrier that caused this crisis? I’d sooner give it to the Taliban. Of course, those Neanderthals would probably use it as kindling.
I send David an email:
It appears that your April edition of Harper’s was misdelivered to [my company] a few doors away from you at [censored] Street. Please let me know if you would like me to leave it with our front counter so you can pick it up? I’ll put a post-it on it so people know that you’re coming to get it.
Eleven minutes later David emails me from his iPhone:
That’s very kind of you. Yes. Please leave it at the counter.
That evening, as I depart for the day, I notice that David’s issue of Harper’s is gone. Hopefully, he had picked it up and I will not find it has boomeranged back into Elsbeth’s in-basket come Monday. Hey, I want to accrue a few magazine subscription good karma points.