Archive | 7:37 am

Sorry – I ate your gift.

21 Mar

Last Friday I received a package* that wasn’t intended for me. (*Given the subject of my last post, I feel I need to clarify: this is NOT a euphemism for “penis.” I’m talking about a box from FedEx.)

I assumed it was something I had ordered for my house, so I didn’t even check the label before tearing into it. Once it was open, I found myself looking at a very pretty”Happy Birthday” box, which clearly wasn’t for me. I looked at the label and realized that while the address was correct, the name was not. I thought it was the name of the previous owner, whose contact information the listing agent went to great lengths to conceal. (Serves them right for wanting to be un-contactable, I thought, perhaps a bit spitefully.)

But then I felt guilty and decided I should at least TRY to find her. After all, it was a nice gift box with two deluxe caramel apples, fancy toffee and a bag of caramels from her boss. (Oh yeah – once I opened that box and realized my mistake, I committed to it, figuring, “In for a buck, in for a quarter! Might as well see what it is and who it’s from!”)

I searched NextDoor to see if someone with her name had an account here in the area: No luck.

I did a WhitePages search and again, couldn’t find a listing for this name.

I then went on LinkedIn and searched for her name + her company + Richmond – and I found her! Yay? (I really wanted to eat those apples, but I also wanted to do the right thing.) I attempted a connection request with a note explaining who I was, that I had her package, and that I didn’t know how else to reach her. When I clicked send, I got an error message that I’ve never seen on LinkedIn before: ERROR: This request cannot be processed at this time. Reason unknown.

Well, well, well. It seems the Universe was rooting for me to eat those apples! And not just the Universe, but also the Twitterverse – in tandem with searching for her, I ran a poll asking people on Twitter what I should do with these treats and the response was overwhelming: EAT THEM.

Alas, still semi-plagued with guilt (or lacking deniability), I decided that the responsible thing to do was refrigerate the apples (per the instructions in the box) so they wouldn’t spoil, and at least give it the weekend to see if I heard from the woman. (Maybe her employer would tell her they shipped a box to this address? I didn’t know!)

All weekend, those apples taunted me. Did I touch them? NO.

Until Monday, when I decided the appropriate waiting period had passed and it was like claiming something from a Lost & Found box. I ate that apple and it was delicious. I rearranged the box, thinking, “If she randomly reaches out, I can always put the remaining apple back in here and she’ll be none the wiser.”

But when Wednesday rolled around and I still hadn’t heard from her, I decided to hell with it and ate the second apple, which was also delicious. I was starting to decide when I might allow myself to open the bag of fancy toffee when all of a sudden I received a text. “Alison? It’s X. I used to live in your house. Any chance you’ve received a package for me?”

SHIT. How do I respond? Wish her a happy birthday and tell her I ate her gift? Pretend I have no idea what package she’s talking about? I was on the phone with Alan when the text came through so we brainstormed together. “Tell her you opened it and there were maggots all over the apples!” he riffed. “Or – tell her I ate them and got really sick so I probably did her a favor!”

If I’ve learned anything in my almost-50 years of life, it’s that honesty is the best policy, so I texted her back right away: “So glad to hear from you! I wasn’t sure how to reach you! We DO have your package and I accidentally opened it. 1) Bad news: There were two caramel apples in there. I put them in the fridge because they were perishable, and my partner – not realizing they were part of a gift – ate them. 2) Good news: the rest of the gift – toffee + caramels – is still intact and unopened. 3) You also received a card today – happy birthday!”

Yes, Dear Reader, I did that. I completely threw Alan under the bus, and I lied. I guess if I ever have to take a polygraph and they ask if I’ve stolen something and lied about it, I’m going to have to say YES now. But how could I cop to eating her birthday present? Seriously.

Fortunately, she was gracious. She quickly responded, “GOOD! I’m so glad someone enjoyed them! The last thing I need is more sweets!”

Whew. But also? That provoked two simultaneous responses. 1) Her use of “someone” suggested that she saw right through my ruse and knew that it was, in fact, I who had eaten her apples. 2) Was this permission to go ahead and tear into the toffee? Or –

“Can I come by tonight to pick it up?” Well, that answered the second question. Dammit.

So yeah. I met the woman whose birthday present I ate and lied about. Did I feel good about myself? No. But I also didn’t feel terrible – because those apples were actually pretty delicious.

UPDATE: When I told Alan how I’d handled it, he laughed. “It’s not like I’m ever going to meet her, so that sounds like the perfect explanation.”

“Well,” I said, hesitantly, “You MIGHT meet her.”

“Why’s that?” he asked.

“Because we kind of hit it off and I invited her and her husband over for a barbecue.”

“But you didn’t tell her YOU ate her apples?” He was incredulous.

“No – if we end up becoming friends, I figure I’ll confess in a year and it will become our friendship origin story.”

I’m not sure Alan’s on board with this turn of events based on his heavy sigh.