I had blithely assumed that going away for three days in the midst of a generally expected package delivery wouldn't be a problem. I could always go to the local post office to collect a missed parcel, assuming a neighbor didn't take it in. But I was in Bray for attempt #1 and in Oxford for attempt #2 as it turned out.
The first the sender heard of it was when the expediter reported that only the third and final delivery was next - and did they happen to have my phone number, by the way? We traded messages back and forth over a lingering meaty lunch through which Grouting mostly slept. By the time Grouting wanted to go buy apples and apple juice, I had the expediter's number and the shipping number. En route to Sainsbury's, they said they would pass on my request to have the boxes redelivered on Monday; but no promises. The actual shipping company was UPS.
I came home to find out I'd been in Newton Longville for delivery attempt #3, the third and final delivery.
So I phoned UPS to see how I could retrieve the boxes. I couldn't quite understand the address they were giving me. That wasn't mine; was it the sender's? No wait, I'm not expecting five boxes from Costco. The delivery slip was someone else's.
So we tried again with the confirmation order, and this time they could tell me that yes, I could pick it up from the depot. Which was a half hour drive away in current traffic.
Saturday morning. Grouting and C drive me down to the depot - a drive which only takes just over 20 minutes in then-current traffic - and we find it more easily than feared. I'm directed down a short corridor, up a few stairs, to a deserted counter, where a staff member shows up a minute after I ring the bell. He asks for the delivery slip (not mine, I say of the third one), and optimistically tries the main closet. No luck.
He looks it up again. "So the trailer with most of the packages in it is locked up." He says. "The driver forgot to leave the key behind and isn't answering his phone. Someone's already lost a contract this morning because the second part of his package was locked up there." I'm told a complicated story about someone who works in Leicester and starts work at 5 am, only he'd arranged for his package to be delivered to London at 6 am, and no, no one was in the office overnight for him to be able to collect it. No, not on Sunday either.
With somewhat sanguine despair, I tell the tale of the locked-up trailer to the next two customers who show up while the staff member is looking for my packages in the back rooms. One of them successfully leaves with his parcel. The staff member finds someone else to keep looking for mine. Grouting and C are still waiting.
I'm no longer expecting the boxes by this point, so it's absolutely astonishing when someone new comes out of the back room with a trolley laden with four solid boxes! He helps me bring them to the car, and tells me how it was only earlier that morning that he'd stickered them for redelivery to me on Monday. As I'd requested on Thursday and which hadn't apparently gone through so far as I could tell based on the "final delivery" on Friday and subsequent phone call.
But there they were. gillpolack's four boxes of pre-pubbed novels! Loaded into the boot of the car! Grouting asked to watch Mr. Maker, and we drove them safely home.
And I am now the very first person (other than the people who physically boxed up the books) to have laid eyes on pre-pub copies of Langue dot doc.