Field Reports, Writing

Field Report: December 1

Sergeant K

When Private Ryan and I collapse in The Field, we will be surrounded by biodegradable peanuts while drowning in the flood of peeled-off backs of labels, and we will wave goodbye to our line that extends across the street. I will cry, “We did all we could,” and Private Ryan will use his last breath to tell a hunting story to the guy in the back who is immune to the environment of “We’re too fucking busy to discuss buck points right now, Sparky.”

Are they called “buck points?” My 2.5 years in The Field proves that learning by osmosis is completely untrue because I know as little about hunting as I did when I was a rookie packer and shipper.

There have been entire weeks where our gross sales totaled less than yesterday’s sales total. Yesterday was November 30. We were prepared to be busy because it is 2020 and we haven’t had a slow day since March. Do you know how I know we were busy? Because every customer who came in the store said, “So are you busy?”

The human need to observe this AND then ask that question, whether facetiously or seriously, is second only to the multiple gold rush-esque toilet paper issues in terms of confusing to me. Just don’t say it. Say anything else. Tell us how you decided what socks to wear that day. Please.

We are shipping toilet paper again, by the way.

We are also shipping Covid tests. Hundreds of them. We get boxes of poop every day for people doing that healthy colon test thing they advertise on TV. (If anyone knows the person who opens these, let me know. I think a newspaper story is in order for them immediately.) Currently, it’s just hundreds of Covid tests. Every time I carry these boxes, I begin singing “Born to Be Wild” in my head. It’s better than “Catch My Disease.”

Speaking of music, I finally gave in and put my super fancy speaker on the back window and began blasting the very best of holiday music in jazz, piano, or classical form. No lyrics. Can’t do lyrics. Many people have commented on the music, saying the love it as much as they love the fir melting pot thing we use to make the place smell Christmas-y. If you want the best atmosphere for hundreds cardboard boxes, we’re your ticket.

I reached hangry yesterday, unfortunately, so when one customer said, “I’m glad Ryan decided to play music,” I snapped back, “No, I decided. He knows better than to force sound on me.” To that customer, I’d like to defend myself except I’m so sound sensitive that all I could promise is that I would make a better, more relaxed joke if she had said that after I’d eaten a cookie.

In the middle of my quest to relieve hangriness, a man called to pay for a shipment we had on hold for him. He was southern and while I love a lot of things about southerners, their speed and my speed do not mix well on a day where speed is the entire essence. He gave me a speech about not knowing which credit card had money on it. Then he said we’d give this one a shot. Then he read me the 16 numbers, got to the end, and said, “I’ll repeat that for you.” I objected but he ignored me.

Of course it was declined. So he wanted me to “try a few more.” I said he should call back when he knows he has one with money on it. I didn’t find this unreasonable.

He called back three minutes later and spoke to ROTC Laura who is Danish and who, having worked in The Field for three weeks, had no idea what was going on. She relayed the information that the man had “some more cards he wanted me to try.” I said no. Private Ryan would have to call him back in a bit when we aren’t as busy. Apparently he said, “You people are of no fucking help,” and hung up on the newbie. ROTC Laura doesn’t take a lot of shit but she’s also great at customer service. She didn’t swear back! Give the girl a star because I would not have passed that obstacle course at all.

Today, we did half as many sales as yesterday which was still about twice as much as we usually do on this day. One woman called to tell us it was the wrong name on the label. I thought she meant we had the recipient name incorrect but she then informed me it was the wrong name on the return label. I informed her that we’ll just hope that it arrives to the right person and if not, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. This conversation lasted for five minutes and yet, that was the entire content we discussed.

It turns out that Private Ryan helped the person who brought in the packages, put it under the name THAT person gave him, and we have no idea how THIS woman ended up with the receipt.

And we had a customer who wanted to insure her cookies for $200. We can’t insure food. (There is currently around 700 pounds of meat floating around the U.S. from The Field. Please, god, let it stay cold everywhere it goes.) I’m pretty sure they can prove the worth of that amount of meat. Homemade cookies might be a bit more difficult.

At the end of the day today, Private Ryan said, “I know that if my legs and feet are aching that yours have to be, too.” “Are you calling me old or fat?” I asked him. We laughed and then I struggled to lock the door and almost once again set the alarm even though he was still inside the building. I look forward to our next month of delusional conversations.

Colonel C

Sergeant couldn’t come up with term ROTC and said all she could think was “RotoRooter” and I think she might need a nap.

Also I got a haircut.

To see how it all began, check out Day One of The Field Reports.

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