I open my eyes and look at the clock: 4:00 AM stares back at me in glowing LED lights. It's Christmas Eve morning. And something is wrong. I slide out of bed, tiptoe on frozen hardwood to sit my weary tuche in front of my 'puter. Email...delete delete delete, too many FWDs.. THERE IT IS--confirmation number from L.L. Bean for my sick mom's gift. Dated the 14th, shoulda come by now! Where is it? I flail at the computer some more. The Order number will not be received by LL Bean online due to non acceptance of my long zip code # so after 3 attempts I call Debbie at the 24 hour customer service desk at L.L.Bean. I say "I sent the package to my mom's address at the Assisted Living Place and they refused it because I put my name on it not hers." She chuckles. I hear her smile over the phone as she says, "Well dear, call UPS with this tracking number. It'll be fine."
So I call UPS. Apparently THEY get out of bed and to the office by 9AM. Sensible, brown paper souls that they are!! So I sleep until 8. Get up, dress and with hair sticking out at odd angles, am out the door by 8:30. No traffic AT ALL! It's a miracle! I fly down the hill like a reindeer to Santa Cruz UPS, barely missing getting broadsided by a charging city bus (I should really not be allowed to drive half asleep). Going a little fast, I manage to miss the ONE entrance to UPS and end up in the Costco gas station. I then circle the station like a hungry Christmas shark looking exclusively to devour men in brown uniforms. Finally exiting the parking lot I backtrack one driveway to UPS (pronounced Youpis) and park just as they're opening the door.
Sounds of reggae music waft through the chilly industrial steel office. I think it's Bob Marley-- well, it is not Christmas music anyway. Only in Santa Cruz do we celebrate Christmas with Bob Marley music! I am #3 in line, and #2 conveniently is stepping to the side to write an address on his package. #1 in the queue is a man that asks for a package that went to his closed office. As I'm waiting I look around. I notice that #2 , the man who is behind me now, looks like Santa. He is at least 6'3", is a sturdy 300 lbs, has a REAL white beard and a RED hat with white ear flaps!!!! He is huddled over his package on the side table writing an address. Santa needs to UPS overnight something? Well, I can understand that. There are a lot more people in the world now, after all! Moving behind me he remarks, "I guess this is the line?" Yes, the line of one" I reply. He says, " Then now it's a line of two!"
A petite 60-ish lady with waist-length gray hair calls out "Next!" "Hi, I sent a package to my Mom at The Assisted Living Place and I got the address right but put my name, Jennifer Smith, instead of hers, Anne Watson, on the package, so they sent it back here." She chuckled sympathetically. "Oh so they marked the package no one by that name at this address? (By the way, do all customer service people get trained to chuckle sympathetically? Do they have to pass a chuckling class?) I say: "Yeah, you'd think they'd know me by now!" "Well, we'll find it for you." After typing some info into the computer she goes in the back and comes out with a package. "Yaaaay!" I say, jumping up and down (never lose your inner child). She hands it to me and says "Merry Christmas, Jennifer". As I turn to go, I find myself facing Santa. He smiles a warm crinkly smile. "Merry Christmas, Jennifer."
"Merry Christmas, Santa!" I say and walk out into the sunny, frosty morning.