The Van Chronicles
Part 1: "A Thief In The Night Day"
Dear Reader: You caught me. My name is Landon, and I drive the delivery van for Out of the Box Collective.
Landon meets a new friend on the road.
You may not have had the dubious pleasure of meeting me, but I'm sure that you've seen my handiwork:-- those plastic/cardboard crates on your doorstep? I did that. The pristine arrangement of fruits, vegetables and groceries inside, untouched by the rattles and rigors of the road? I did that. Something gone horribly wrong with your order? I didn't do that; that was somebody else, they had a black hat, shifty eyes and a-Hey, put those pitchforks away! I'm innocent I tell you! Oh, the humanity! Ok, maybe it was me, and I apologize for the lapse in service. I do care about my mistakes, and I'm always trying to get better.
But here's the funny thing: I know that I'm doing my job right if I never have to speak to another human being. I come like a thief in the night (or a more emaciated-looking Santa Claus) and leave precious gifts in my wake, hopefully making the world better for my passing.This sneakiness comes naturally to me. I have a light step, a willowy profile, and an uncanny (and unintentional) ability to sneak up on coworkers, family, and friends before startling them with innocent questions like, "What perfume is that? I like it very much!" Wearing a lot of black or dark grey probably doesn't hurt either.
In short, I am OTB's personal Cat Burglar, or Ninja, or Food Revolution Batman, although I'm probably too cowardly to really merit any of those titles (and, let's be honest, I can't see them appearing on this in the future as an entire state's favorite superhero)."Jen's Stooge" is probably the most appropriate.
Here is the story of how I knew I'd really earned it:It was a Saturday. Jen and I had taken "Cannonball" (my name for our delivery van and my faithful steed and companion) up to Santa Barbara for OTB's weekly supply run. Cannonball really is a part of the team, as cheesy as that sounds.
We had been encountering problems all morning. Seemingly, everything that could have gone wrong with our pickups was and the pile of setbacks we had been encountering was approaching the concerted mass of my favorite brand of irony: "The Cosmic Joke". Little did we know that we were soon to meet the day's greatest challenge!
We arrived at the home of Ben, local fisherman and OTB's supplier of Neptune's bounty. Jen sent me to the door to retrieve ‘the goods', and away I went, springing merrily up onto the patio, my hand finding the tarnished brass knob to give it the ol' turnaroo...
There's a fishingboat in the driveway, and Ben is out at sea.
The door was locked! No surprises there-it usually is. I checked the key's alleged hiding place (I've never seen it there!). Again, no surprises. I rapped heavily upon the door to the tune of ‘shave and a haircut'. No answer. Ben was not home. I couldn't be any less surprised.Jen walked into the front yard and I turned to her: "No dice, Boss," I said. "Place is locked up tighter than your well of compliments for me. Let's give up, go back to LA, and make him bring the fish to us. Besides, Santa Barbara gives me the willies!" Our Founder, resolute and determined, wisely disregarded me. "Those windows right there are cracked a little," she said, pointing to some 4-panes and the little open-air slots beneath them fronting the property. They were about shoulder-level. "Maybe you can squeeze through?"I gave my quarry a quick look. "Sure thing," I boasted. "Home invasion through tiny spaces is kind of my thing. I had to slip in through my family's cat door once, and you would not believe how-" "Just get the fish, Landon," she said, her visionary voice filling me with inspired purpose."Righty-oh!" I crowed, and made up the wall like a spider in cargo shorts.
Through one opening, the way was blocked by a flat plane of dark wood-furniture-through the other, the dim outline of a mariner's living room. This would be child's play. I piped my last goodbye: "You're lucky I'm an ectomorph!" and plunged ahead. My oversized head slipped through with surprising ease, then the shoulders, my well-developed pectorals, my undulating lower torso. I found handholds on a comfy couch and pressed on, my legs swinging back and forth in the open air outside as I came to the real obstacle: those curséd dancer's hips of mine. I got them halfway through before they snagged, fixing me in place, a man between worlds. Outside, Jen was trying to muffle her laughter.
Brave man. Tally ho.
I grunted, pushed, and as I struggled to free myself, I heard them coming, their infernal paws scrabbling on the wooden floors. My god, I thought. I forgot about the Pitbulls. And then the hell-hounds were upon me!-licking my face, breathing heavily on me through their noses, nuzzling and butting me with great enthusiasm, preventing me from gaining further entry into the house's interior. I cried out in mixed joy and terror, Jen lost it, and outside, my legs beat the air as I tried to worm through and right myself to escape their loving torment. I made only small gains. Jen snapped photos and videos, presumably for blackmail.
Landon takes the challenge. Pit bulls await his other half
It's not that I didn't appreciate their kindness. The dogs had met me before, and judging by the warm reception, appreciated any human contact they could get when the master was out - but regardless, I'm a professional, and I had a job to do.
It took me another quarter minute, but once I was through, I was all business. "Thanks for not killing me," I said brusquely. "Nice doggies."I got the fish, wrote out the check, and was at the door when I noticed they were looking a little glum. The One that looks like an American Hugh Grant is leaving us, one's eyes said. Everyone leaves us in the end, mimed the other. Death and taxes, man. Death and taxes.
I respond quite effectively to emotional blackmail. I gave them both a kiss, an energetic head rub, and left. They deserved more. After all, they had (with Jen's direction, of course) given me a good little story. And hadn't killed me, the living embodiment of a home intruder!-that counted for something, right? Maybe they didn't because they both knew something that I've only recently come to really appreciate.
Sometimes when life deals out its greatest inconveniences is when it's most interesting and story-worthy. Not when it comes to OTB's box deliveries, of course, but for other stuff. Like losing airline baggage, or root canals.
Cannonball, the trusty van, loaded to the brim with local goodness thanks to Landon's Tetris skills.
When we got back to the van, I washed my hands thoroughly with Purell and off we went- we had some olive oil to "steal."
NOTE FROM "Jen": Ben Hyman, of Wild, Local, Sustainable seafood does know that when he is at sea, we pick up our orders from his place, whatever it takes. As of late, he has set up a freezer and fridge on his front porch so things have got significantly easier! Next up, he is opening a purpose built fish counter at the harbour in Ventura, we couldn't be more proud of him!
The adventures continue...