The Parcel

“New Zealand Customs, how may I help you?”

“Hello, I’m trying to find out the status of a parcel that arrived in the country two days ago.”

“What is your name sir?”

[Gives name]

“And how do you know the parcel has arrived in the country?”

“I have a track and trace number and I went to the website for the company that brought in the item and it says the parcel arrived two days ago and is being held by Customs. Can you tell me why that is?”

“What is the tracking number sir?”

[Gives tracking number]

“I’m sorry sir, we can only look up numbers that begin with two letters followed by nine numbers.”

“Well then here’s the name and address on the parcel.”

[Long pause]

“I see. That area is handled be another department. Here’s the number.”

“But I…”


“Hello, I’m trying to find out why a parcel that’s arrived in the country is being held up by Customs. I was given this number…”

“Who gave you this number?”

“Um…I didn’t catch the name, but it was the number given on the website for enquiries…”

“You need to speak to :::mumble:::mumble:::just one moment and I’ll transfer you.”

Recorded message: “I’m sorry, this number is no longer in service. If you feel you’ve reached this number in error please hang up.”

[Redials number given by first officer.]

“Yes, hello, you transferred me to a number that’s no longer in service, could you…”

“Who transferred you?”

“Well, you did, I think. Sounds like you.”

“Wasn’t me. What’s this about?”

[Explains situation again]

“Oh. You’ve got the wrong department. The downtown division handles airfreight from that part of the world. Here’s the number.”

[Dials number. Explains situation once again]

“I see. Let me look into this for you and call you right back. What’s your number?”

[Gives number]

“Okay, get right back to you.”

[Three hours later]

“Yes, hello, someone was supposed to call me back about a parcel that’s being held by your department…”

“How do you know this department has it?”

[Explains everything that’s happened.]

“Oh. Who was supposed to call you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, they’ll probably get back to you soon.”

“Look, I’ve been passed around and put off and I’m…”


“New Zealand Customs, how may I help you?”

“That’s a good question. I’ve got a better question, are you capable of being helpful at all?”


[Explains the entire situation from the beginning.]

“Oh, that’s dreadful sir. How frustrated you must be. Tell you what, I’ll just take your information and call you right back…”

“Oh no you don’t, I’ve been through this too many times. I demand to know why my parcel hasn’t been delivered. I want answers and I want them now!”

“I understand sir. You wish to escalate the matter. I’ll just put you through to my supervisor. Won’t be a minute.”

[Music in background. Bad music. Donny and Marie. The Carpenters. The Captain and Tennille. Ten minutes go by. “Music” replaced by dial tone.]

“New Zealand Customs, how can I help you?”

“Please, for the love of god, can you just tell me what’s happening to my parcel? Is it really so much to ask?”

“What parcel would that be sir?”

[Explains from the beginning.]

“Alright, we’ll get this sorted for you, not to worry. Now you say the tracking number is 113764198?”

“No, it’s 112764198.”

“Okay, so it’s 112746198, and…”

“NO! It’s 112764198.”

“Are you sure? I’m certain you said…”

“Look, god damn it, it’s 11276…”

“Sir, there is no need to take the lord’s name in vain. I am deeply offended…”


“What was that about Sam?”

“Oh, just some angry malcontent with no manners. You know how it goes.”

[Nods and chuckles]

“Yeah, it takes all kinds.”


4 responses to “The Parcel

  1. um, I think this just happened to me yesterday, only in the U.S.

    • The story is a synthesis, with dramatic license, of what I’ve been through the last two weeks trying to get a package from Nepal delivered. Never have I seen such gross incompetence in my life.

  2. Ugh, I’m sorry. I’m shuddering.

    p.s. I’ve finally posted your other story, Lenny and Me, on my blog. I had to make a blogging schedule, otherwise I’m a fickle and lazy blogger, not to mention a lazy writer. I really wish I could post stories as often as you do.

    • Hi Jill.

      Thanks for that. I’m back home after a month away in Mexico and Central America and I’ve got a new story going.

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