The Package

by Adam Acidophilus

A man sold an item through the miracle of the internet, and set off to post it to his lucky customer.

“I’d like to post this to Hove please,” he told the post office clerk.

“Put it on the scale,” she told him.

He did as he was bid.

“It’s large,” she told him.

“I suppose so – ” the businessman conceded.

“First class or second?” she asked him.

“Hold pause a while,” he asked her, “and elucidate upon the specific difference.”

“First class gets there faster,” she yawned. “Second takes up to a week.”

“Then let us spare no expense, and send the item forthwith by the premier class that our lucky customer may enjoy his purchase on the morrow!” the businessman commanded (inadvisably).

The clerk glared at him. “It’s not guaranteed tomorrow. I only said it would be less than a week. Might be a few days. If you want next day – that’s extra,” she explained. “You can have 24 hour, or 48 which is cheaper.”

“Oh twenty-four! Twenty four!” The businessman replied.

“Do you want tracking?” she asked him.

“What’s tracking?”

“It means we guarantee that the package will get to the right address.”

The businessman steadied himself against the counter. “My dear woman – ” he replied. “Are you telling me that neither second class nor first actually guarantees that the package will get there?”

“Of course not,” said the clerk. “There’s no tracking, is there?”

“Then your finest 24 hour service with tracking!” quipped the businessman – nervously acknowledging the massive queue that had built up behind him.

“Do you want signed for?” she asked him.

He broke into a sweat. “And what – pray – is signed for?”

“It means it definitely goes to the person it’s sent to,” she elucidated.

The businessman flinched. “I thought you said that tracking ensured a successful delivery?”

“Only to the house. If it’s flats, you want signed for.”

The businessman eyed the package nervously. It was, indeed, flats.

“Then let it be signed for,” he chuckled. “Nothing beats the ol’ signature on the line – do it?”

The queue began to bristle.

“What’s in it?” asked the clerk. “What’s in the package?”

“Why madam, ’tis but a rare gramophone recording, scored upon a vinyl disc, pressed by olde craftsmen of yore but fifty year ago, held, loved, undamaged – and wrapped in the finest of artworks!”

“What’s it worth?” asked the clerk.

“Why, methinks, that is a private matter,” grinned the businessman.

“It’s only insured up to fifty,” she droned. “If it’s worth more than fifty you need insurance.”

The package was – indeed – worth more than fifty.

“Agreed,” coughed the businessman: “A large, first class, signed for, 24-hour package, lovingly stamped, dispatched, carried and sprinkled with a soupcon of ye finest insurance to the value of, shall we say, one hundred guineas of the Queen’s coin!”

“It’s up to £500,” the clerk remarked.

“£500 is more than adequate,” sighed the businessman.

The clerk rang up the total.

“But that’s more than … !” shrieked the businessman – rapidly regaining his composure. “No matter. Let us strive for good feedback and hope there is a God in heaven, eh?”

The businessman passed the package through to the clerk and reached for his bulging wallet.

“Here, what’s this?” said the clerk. “Seventeen?”

“Yes, seventeen,” concurred the sender. “It is the house number of the addressee.”

“Then I suggest you get your addressee to drive the 250 miles from his home to your premises in the north – even if there is a fuel shortage – and get him to pick up the item in person,” the clerk suggested, passing the package back to the businessman.

The businessman wilted. “Zounds,” he wept. “In God’s name why?”

“It’s a number seventeen. We can’t all count up that high, you know!”

Moral: Where’s my sodding parcel?

© Adam Acidophilus 2021