There was a time in my life, right after college, when I worked as a courier delivering various items around Southern California.
Being a courier, driving around the better half of California, picking up architectural blueprints, and delivering court papers to the local judiciary was a great way to make money.
Other than the wear and tear on the car, it was an extremely satisfying job. I was outside most of the time enjoying the fabulous sunny weather the Golden State serves up that is the envy of the rest of the nation. Another highlight of my job was that it was never the same. Some days I would drive from San Diego to Los Angeles. Other days, I would find myself exclusively in Irvine running routes. The people I met were also as varied as the routes I would take. There were some offices I enjoyed going to only because the receptionist was most pleasing to the eyes. Any chance to engage in small talk with these beautiful headphone-wearing sentinels was my sole sad excuse for a social life. There was also one gentlemen in a mail room I enjoyed seeing because he was a fellow nerd and we would riff on Doctor Who (we both adored Tom Baker), Monty Python’s Flying Circus, old D&D campaigns, and whether the TRS-80 was the spiritual father of the Commodore 64.
Being a courier also gave me the opportunity to be introduced to one of my Muses, Sara Hickman (as previously seen here on 336 Stories).
For every light, however, there is a shadow.
These are two of those stories.
There was one time when I had to make a delivery to a private residence. This was unusual as our customers were primarily law firms and architects. However, the business I was picking up the documents from was a heavy user of our services so it would have been folly to refuse. In addition, the delivery was in Pacific Beach, a section of San Diego, so it was a lucrative assignment for me as I was paid by the mile and I was starting off in Los Angeles.
Once at the drop-off site, I rang the doorbell and I heard a muffled, “Come on in. It’s open.”
I opened the front door to the ranch-style house five blocks from the ocean and sitting in his lounger watching daytime television was the recipient of the documents I carried. He was wearing a slight smile, a washcloth to cover his private parts, and nothing else.
Did I neglect to mention that I needed his signature for this delivery? Sadly, I could not simply drop the envelope and bolt out of there. I had to approach him because I certainly didn’t want him to rise and come to me. I shuffled towards him all the while keeping an eye on the open door so I knew where to run once the creepy violin music began which is the universal cinematic signal that the senseless murder of the unwitting minor character was about to begin (as referenced in Section 26 of the Unified Movie Code of 1972).
I have never in my life seen a person take so long to read a piece of paper on a clipboard and sign his name.
I later found out that this delivery location was the equivalent of a hazing by the dispatcher team towards new drivers (which I was). This gentleman was known to always be dressed in such a manner, but, like I said before, he was a frequent and high-paying customer. Apparently I “passed” the test because when I radioed in to say the job was complete, I jokingly said – but in a perfectly reasonable and calm voice as if nothing had happened – that if they needed me to do that run again, I would be happy to do it since the customer was so pleasant. The dispatcher was so surprised that I was not screaming into the radio, that I guess he thought I was an okay dude.
It was also as a courier that I made dating history.
There was an office complex with a parking garage which had an attendant in the cashier’s booth who I thought was stunning. She had dark olive skin and a striking angular face that dared the eyes to look away.
One day, after work, I simply had to ask her out. After my round of deliveries, I drove back to the parking garage and approached the booth. I introduced myself and we chatted for a while. I found out she was from Afghanistan and had only been in the country for a few months. I screwed up my courage and asked her out to dinner.
She said no as she explained that she could only date within her Islamic faith.
Has anyone else been shot down on an initial request for a date due to religious beliefs?
Those are my stories.
P.S. If you want to hear about the time I met Jenny Craig while doing my rounds as a courier…well, that’s a story for another day.