The Best Things Come in Small Packages

I have an unfortunate bedtime habit.

It takes me what feels like twelve thousand years to get to sleep, and I would rather have my skin peeled from me in strips than lie in the dark with my thoughts, so instead I have a habit of propping my phone on its side and scrolling mindlessly through r/politics or the Aliexpress app on my phone until I fall asleep, one fingertip still pressed to the screen.

(You might be able to guess where I’m going with this…)

On more than one occasion I have woken up having purchased some truly ridiculous items are not in any way necessary to my life: a stamped metal 3D puzzle of C3PO; ten identical tongue bars; a clockwork mouse; a set of enamel dinosaur pins; 30 whale-shaped bookmarks…

…And when I say ‘on more than one occasion,’ what I really mean is ‘regularly enough that I know to check my orders first thing in the morning in case I need to cancel anything.’

If you’ve ever used Aliexpress then you know that this is not the end of the world. Most items cost under $3, and truthfully the worst that can happen is that they unexpectedly arrive two months later, like badly-packaged surprise presents to myself. They arrive wrapped in what look like black bin bags that have been hurriedly repurposed, with curiously vague, Google-translated descriptions on the custom notes such as “needle beauty” (tweezers), “claws” (hair clips), and “stationery cat” (cat stickers).

The postman who delivers these questionable acquisitions to my door is an energetic man who bounds in and out of each building with superfluous energy, cheerfully swinging his crossbody satchel like a young, fit, baby-faced Santa Claus. Instead of ringing my doorbell, he often just hollers, “HELLOOOOO!” and waits for me to appear before whipping out some small lumpy package and handing it to me. It’s a loud and interesting interaction that often breaks up my day.

So, here I must rewind and explain that about two months ago I ordered a space hopper. That part is a long story so to shorten it I will just say two things:

  • This was only a half-asleep purchase; I did in fact sort of kind of maybe mean to buy a space hopper. I probably wouldn’t have bought it while wide awake but the fact remains that I made no move to cancel this order.
  • It was not for actual space hopping, it was for a craft project*.

By the time it arrived I had forgotten I had ever ordered it.

Last week, the postman bellowed his usual greeting and I popped my head out the door only to see him pull an irregularly shaped, flat, floppy package from his satchel. He handed it to me and, in an attempt to remember what it might possibly be, I flipped it over and read the description aloud:

“Toy balls.”

Except that even as I started reading it, my eyes had already jumped ahead to the next word. I could tell it was going to sound wrong. I suddenly remembered the space hopper, but I had already started reading and didn’t feel like I could really stop mid-word. My reluctance to finish the phrase slowed my speech down considerably, and so it wound up sounding more like:

“Toyyy….. baaaaaaallllllls……”

Followed by an awkward silence that stretched between us the way the Sahara desert stretches between the Red Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

I looked up and locked eyes with the postman over this limp black bin bag. He slowly nodded in amused sympathy.

“We were wondering down at the post office what that could possibly be, alright!” He said, eventually, when the awkward moment had stretched for so long that time had lost all meaning and we had simply become two blushing inanimate objects in an uncomfortable still life.

My mind flashed through a series of possibilities as to how this might play out. Should I open the package so he could see it wasn’t anything questionable? I could, but then I would have to unfold and reveal a lurid pink space hopper. And then I would have to explain the space hopper, which honestly almost makes me sound more insane than if I’d ordered something vague but kinky all the way from China. Or worse, he might think the space hopper itself was for vague but kinky purposes…

At this point we had been staring at each other for so long I was starting to feel like we had unwittingly entered into a relationship, so I just squeaked, “Thanks!” and dashed back inside with my “toy balls”.

I am now avoiding the postman, and I am also avoiding Aliexpress at night because clearly I cannot be trusted with late-night purchases or people.

Such is life.

Happy Friday, guys.

*The space hopper was too small for my craft project, and so was gifted to a small child who can actually use it for hopping.

 

17 comments
  1. I have a horrible time trying to fall asleep but I’m so glad I don’t do this hahaha especially since I have no money, I would be in big trouble 😂 my fiancé can feel me tossing and turning every night and he’s always asking what’s wrong. I tell him I can’t fall asleep and he goes “Why?”

    I DON’T KNOW. IF I KNEW, I WOULD FIX THE PROBLEM IMMEDIATELY. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    1. Right?? Scrubs falls asleep in what feels like microseconds and then lies there, peacefully slumbering, practically TAUNTING me. Tis brutal.

  2. That made me laugh. I don’t sleep shop, but I have had one glass too many of wine and have ordered things that I thought was absolutely necessary to my survival. For example, a midi keyboard controller for my studio. I already had one, but this one lit up with lots of cool colors. The next morning I had realized that I would survive without it, but convinced myself that I needed the cool backlit colors.

    1. I mean, cool colours really can improve your day no end so I mean…. I sort of think that’s an appropriate purchase. YES!

  3. I love this! Thanks for the early morning smile before setting sail to go snorkeling. Whoever invented honeymoons needs a cookie. 😊

    But for real, that postman of yours probably thinks you’re into some weird kinky shit now. You’re next objective (if you wish to accept) is to find other strangely described items to order and see how he tries to make sense of them all. 😉

    1. I want to see PICTURES newly married Mrs.! How exciting! Congratulations on your amazing wedding that photo you posted just radiates joy.

      The unfortunate fact of the matter is that there’s really no telling what they’ll put on the package before it’s in your hands. They don’t have strange descriptions on the website, it’s only whoever is tasked with filling out the customs note that seems to bungle it!

      1. Don’t worry. There will be pleanty of pictures. And thank you!

  4. Bwahahaha this is hilarious! You can never show your face to the postman again…or maybe he’s already forgotten and the world id back to normal!!

    1. Oh he definitely hasn’t forgotten. I think there’s an extra injection of glee in his smile when he has another something to deliver me…!

      1. Heh!! <3

  5. “when the awkward moment had stretched for so long that time had lost all meaning and we had simply become two blushing inanimate objects in an uncomfortable still life.”

    Love this line, and can relate to the sentiment far too well.

    1. Oh, there’s nothing like social interactions like this one to make me feel like I’m seven years old again and have no idea what I’m doing!

  6. I just moved to China and the translations are truly something else. Sometimes when you know what they meant to say it makes a lot of sense, other times…. hahahahha

    1. Yes. This is not the first time they have written something sketchy on my packages. It’s just the first time I unwisely decided to read it aloud… LESSON LEARNED!

  7. I have no idea what any of those things are but man did I need that laugh! You’re the best, Quinn! I am grateful to have a Quinn in my life to make me laugh out loud when I Most need it. 😛

    1. Thanks Lane! Why are you in need of a laugh? Do you need a bad joke on this gloomy Thursday?

      1. Having a really stressful week at work. Feeling defeated. 😕 I think I was put in a tough position and maybe I’m not responding well. My peers seem to need something from me that I am struggling to deliver because the complexity of this work seems overwhelming. Maybe our core values or personalities don’t align well. Having a really hard time.

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