Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Goofus or Gallant?

Remember Highlights for Children? That magazine played such a role in my growing up. It was always in my doctor's office (and I, being a sickly child, was always in the doctor's office), and I would read it cover to cover. My favorite part was definitely the Hidden Pictures games, but I also distinctly remember the "Goofus and Gallant" pages.

Remember those? "Goofus and Gallant," wherein a prissy-looking, clean-cut little boy wearing a sweater (named "Gallant") would be depicted doing all kinds of nicey-nice-nice things while some thug kid (sporting a striped long-sleeved shirt, a crown (WTF?) and freckles) named "Goofus" would basically be a jerk. It even came with captions! "Goofus hoards his Halloween candy." -- "Gallant shares his candy with other children." It sounds a bit heavy-handed now, but back then (being the prissy wannabe that I was) I knew I wanted to be more like Gallant. Frankly, I now think it might be because I wanted the sweater, even though I grew up in Hawai'i, where sweaters are about as common as northern caribou.

Anyway, something happened this afternoon. I'm about to describe two opposing points of view. Your job, Dear Commenter, should you choose to accept it, is to guess which point of view below is actually mine.

Scenario One

My friend Mark's birthday is coming up soon. As is my wont, I wait until now to send him gifts, looping his Christmas and birthday gifts into one large gift. (Truly, though, it's also a way for me to delay purchasing anything for him until I get a gift from him -- he has been known in the past to spend less than I do on gifts, and sometimes this results in some awkwardness.) So I spent a little time last night putting together his box and today, after lunch, I made my way to the post office to mail it.

My local post office -- hallelujah! -- has a self-serve postage area. You can take your box, weigh it, purchase postage, and drop it off all without talking to a single human being and having to stand in that interminable line. It's kinda like a postage ATM. I was excited to put this service to use.

I'm going to skim across the whole thing about mailing the box now, because it's simply irrelevant (but the process was pretty darn cool). I will say this: As I'm getting ready to leave the machine, I notice that, sitting on top of the postage ATM is a wrapped set of flowers. Obviously they're from the florist next door. I take at peek at them -- a lovely red/pink set of tulip-like bulbs, their stalks oddly (if consistently) oddly skewed to a strange angle. Quite pretty. I sniff. Wonderful smell.

I take a quick look around the post office. I don't really know what I'm looking for, but I look around anyway, flowers in hand. Basically, I want to telegraph the message, Do these flowers belong to anyone? Because if no one claims them, I'm about to walk off with them....

No one responds to my efforts. This is my cue.

I return to my office and present them to T., who is quite surprised by them. "What's this for?" she asks. "I love you!" I respond.

Scenario Two

There's not a lot for me to do in the office this afternoon. I finished the project I was working on early this morning and my boss has it now. Frankly, there's no other active project for me to be working on, so I'm kinda goofing off right around now.

So I have this package here I need to send to Mark. His birthday/Christmas gifts are in there. The Christmas gifts are, of course, wildly late, but the birthday gifts should arrive just about on time. Of course, there is absolutely no difference between his Christmas gifts versus his birthday gifts, so whatever. I decided, rather than ask T. to go to the post office for me (because I'm not doing anything here anyway), I decided I would take a walk and do it myself.

It's a beautiful day today -- it's about 48 degrees outside, which temperature I find delightful. So I took my time walking to the post office, which is literally a block away. Instead of walking straight the post office, I circle the block first, box in hand.

As I approach the post office in the final approach -- please fasten your seat belts and prepare for landing -- I notice the flower shop next door to the post office. T. has an affinity for flowers in the office; she thinks it pretties the place up. And she's right; it's much more warming to walk into our tiny little waiting area when it's spruced up with some flowers than when it's all pain and dull. T. usually gets a fresh set every Monday morning on her way in to work. I know it's only Tuesday today, but like I said, I'm bored, so I stop into the florist.

After spending about five minutes looking around and inhaling deeply, I pick out a set of flowers that I think would look pretty in the jade-green vase in our waiting area. I think they're tulips, just because they have elongated bulbs, but that's all I know. I'm sure the florist tried to tell me what they were, but frankly, I'm not paying attention. I just want the flowers.

Flowers in one hand, box under the other arm, I make my way to the post office. Thankfully, there is no line at the self-serve postage line, so I put my box down on the scale and start to work. The postage ATM is easy to use, but at some point, of course, I need to insert a credit card. The flowers are in my right hand -- and my wallet is in my right pocket -- so I put the flowers on top of the machine, grab my wallet, and complete the transaction.

I think you know where this is going. I am a flake.

I put the postage on the box, pop it into the cool "put your package here" slot, and exit the post office, happy with another errand done. Suddenly conscious of the amount of time I've spent out of the office, I decide I should get back to the office relatively quickly...

... until I arrive at the corner, when I suddenly get the feeling I'm forgetting something, and that my hands should be occupied somehow. Oh shit, I think. The flowers.

Keep in mind, these were nice flowers. The half dozen I got literally cost $12 (before tax). It's not something I'm just going to blow off.

I turn and power walk back to the post office. Pulling open the door, I already know I'm too late.

My flowers are gone.

A quick scan of the post office reveals that no one there is holding on to them. Apparently someone who either finished his transaction with the teller or who needed to use the automated devices saw them and made off with them. The bastard!


Only one of these two scenarios actually occurred. Can you guess which one? Am I a total space case, or am I a flower thief? (Not that I can't be both.)


Steve said...

Hmmmm. Is this a trick? I truly like to believe people, for the most part, are good, soooo... oh, gosh, ummmm, I think I'm gonna go with scenario #2. I will be crushed if you are a flower thief. ;-)

Melissa said...

I am going to guess that you are the "total space case."

Anonymous said...

I'm going with scenario number 1. Mostly because you made someone else really happy (T) instead of keeping them on your desk or taking them home. I'm still not even sure how I got to your blog but have been laughing ever since (I have got to get a life). TM

Dennis! said...

TM: Welcome and thanks for the kind words!

Everyone who's interested: I'm planning on revealing what actually happened today on Friday.

Me said...

Wait until Friday?! Friday?! That's so wrong! I'd say #1?

AuthorStore said...

Dude, you should have bought him a subscription to Highlights for Children. Now that, would be funny!