Weird Story

This is a completely trivial story, but it’s one of those things where something a little weird happened, and I can’t figure out a reasonable sequence of events that could result in the outcome, so it’s bothering me. Anyway, here’s the story:

I ordered some random stuff from Amazon a few weeks ago. Perfectly normal stuff. Granola bars and some other stuff. I order a lot of stuff from Amazon, and I haven’t had a problem with a delivery in ages. But this package just disappears. I get the notification that it was delivered, via USPS. I’m working from home that day, so I go downstairs and look for it. It’s not there.

Now, sometimes a package gets marked as delivered and it’s not actually there yet. I assume that’s the delivery guy trying to tweak his metrics or something, so it looks like he’s on schedule when he’s actually behind. But the package doesn’t show up by the end of the day.

And sometimes there’s a little mix up, where maybe a neighbor picks up the wrong package, realizes it, and then brings it back down to the foyer. So that could delay it a day. Or the mailman thinks he dropped it off, but it’s still in the back of his truck, so he drops it off next day. But a few days go by and the package doesn’t show up, so it’s nothing like that.

So I do the online customer service thing with Amazon and they cheerfully agree to send me a replacement shipment, which I get the next day. So all is well, and I go on with my life.

Then today, almost three weeks after the original package was meant to be delivered, the package appears, right outside my door. It’s been torn open, but there’s nothing missing or tampered with. And there’s no note.

So the likely reason for this is that one of my neighbors picked up the package accidentally, has realized that, and is now giving me the package. But I can’t figure out several things:

  1. The label on the package is perfectly clear and correct, with my name and apartment number. So it’s not a case where the label was damaged or something. So why did they pick it up in the first place?
  2. Even if someone picked it up accidentally, why did they open it? Once they had it in their apartment, it would have been hard not the notice the name and address.
  3. Why did it take them three weeks to get it back to me? It’s got to be someone from here in the building, so it’s not like they would have had to go very far with it.
  4. Given that they opened the box and sat on it for three weeks, why didn’t they write a little apology note? If they’re embarrassed about it, they wouldn’t have to sign it.

I know it can’t be a “porch pirate” kind of thing. If it was somebody taking it with the intent of stealing the contents, I don’t think they would have bothered returning it to me when they realized that it wasn’t anything good. They would have just tossed it.

The only sequence of events I can come up with is something like this:

  1. Neighbor picks up package, thinking it’s theirs. Doesn’t look at it too closely, and doesn’t open it when they get back to their apartment.
  2. Neighbor goes away on business for a couple of weeks. Or maybe they just toss the package in a corner and forgot it about it for a couple of weeks.
  3. Neighbor gets back home (or notices package that’s been sitting unopened for weeks) and opens the package. (Again, without actually looking at the label.)
  4. Neighbor realizes the contents aren’t theirs, finally looks at the label, and then walks the package over to my apartment. Maybe they knock on my door, intending to apologize in person, but I’m out. (I was out when it was dropped off.)

So that’s semi-plausible, but still pretty weird. And yes, it’s completely trivial. But now I feel guilty for paying for all this stuff once and getting two of everything. I guess I shouldn’t feel bad about that though. Amazon has plenty of money, and sending me two boxes of granola bars for the price of one isn’t going to bankrupt Jeff Bezos.

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