Waiting for the Mailman
..to arrive with my parcel. And I have been for hours. I’d forgotten just how frustrating that can be.
My wait so far
7 a.m. Got up. Showered before Gabriel left because, as everyone knows, the moment you decide to take a shower when you’re in the house alone the doorbell goes.
And I know this from bitter having-to-wait-in experience.
The time when I tripped over the towel and hit my head on the side of the wash basin only to drag myself to the window and see the delivery man speed off in his van springs to mind.
As does the time when I made myself a cup of tea. As the kettle clicked off so the delivery man rang the bell. Once. As I walked past the front door, ever-vigilant, cup of tea in hand, I saw him through the frosted panes post the ‘called-but-you-weren’t-in’ card. I opened the door in time to see him running off at speed, seemingly unable to hear my hysterical cries of ‘Wait! I’m in!’ Perhaps he’d exceeded his 1 minute per delivery target time. Or he just wanted to piss the hell out of me. As I watched the delivery van zoom down the road I can safely say he succeeded in doing the latter.
7.30 a.m. Up and ready. Checked outside for signs of van. Coming. Or going. Opened all doors in the house and turned off the radio which Gabriel had left on in the kitchen. All for optimum hearing-the-bell conditions.
9.00 a.m. Decided to load the dishwasher and the washing machine, thinking may as well while temporarily captive. So much for optimum hearing-the-bell conditions…The whooshing and gurgling of the water pipes made me beat a hasty retreat to the living room where I remained on guilty look-out for a while. Felt bored and tempted to chance it back in the kitchen to make a cup of tea but the thought of a note with the details of a collection depot in the middle of nowhere which I might have to go to in 48 hours stopped me.
10.00 a.m. I tried to read the Guardian online. Found a very silly cat quiz and some even sillier pictures of famous paintings where the key figures have been turned into cats. Really. Funny how, when you tune in to something, you suddenly start noticing them everywhere. The Meowna Lisa…who would have thought it?
A van pulled up outside. Promising. I hovered in the hall waiting for the doorbell to ring. Which it did. I experienced a peak of exhilaration. ‘Would you mind taking this for … next door?’ Followed by a trough of disappointment.
11.00 a.m. Got bored. Moved to the bedroom. Made the bed. May as well. Caved in and switched on the radio. Heard something ringing. Couldn’t have been the doorbell but I went downstairs to check. Just in case. No tell-tale ‘we’ve been’ notes on the doormat. Phew! Returned to the bedroom and fluttered around, picking up socks and other articles of clothing, one at a time, and putting them into the wash basket.
11.30 a.m. Machine noise finished in the kitchen. Was it too early to have lunch? No. Heard that strange not-the-doorbell ring again. What was it?
It took me a while to figure out that it was a What’s App message from Tom, my son who’s not a child any more (although he does a mighty fine impression), informing me that he’s arriving at Bristol airport tomorrow at 5.
Tom: ‘Any chance of a lift?’
Me: ‘Of course.’
Tom: ‘i’m off to london at 8 that eve so will be a pretty quick turnaround – actually don’t suppose i could ask another favour – would you be able to wash my pink shirt and the blue and white small checked one?’
With the midwife’s words ‘rod for your own back‘ ringing in my ears (and that was when we took our first baby home ) I checked the front door and looked out of the window -all clear – before rushing upstairs to Tom’s room, a maelstrom of emotions and thoughts eddying around in my head.
‘Shouldn’t do it.’
‘Happy to help if I can.’
‘Is it good to make things too easy?’
‘He’s off to his girlfriend’s graduation, don’t want him to turn up looking a mess.’
‘But perhaps I’m not helping her – or him – by doing his washing for him.’
‘But I have the time.’
‘He should have done this before he went away.’
‘He would do this for me.’
And that final point was the clincher, the one that if it didn’t erase all others, it certainly put them into perspective.
It wasn’t about gender inequality, and it certainly wasn’t all about point-scoring. As for his washing, I don’t ever do it, thus explaining the carpet of clothes on his bedroom floor while he’s staying with us (which makes me feel vaguely hypocritical to mention as I’ve just spent quite some time this morning trying to separate the pants from the shag-pile in my own room). Clearly, he rarely does it either. But that’s up to him. No, it was about helping out someone you love if you can. I love him and, trapped here in my own house with nothing to do but wait, I certainly could.
Now: Still waiting BUT the doorbell has just rung as I’m putting Tom’s shirts into the washing machine! My wait could soon be over. Need to get Tom’s shirts in first. There. Done. It’s ringing again. For the second time.
‘Mrs Morgan? A delivery for you!’
It’s arrived. And as I close the door I reflect on what a great morning I’ve had.
And on all the jobs I’ll be able to get him to do when he does finally make it back home for a week or two.
Did I say that it wasn’t all about point-scoring? Well, it isn’t. Not completely…
And as for gender inequality, worry not as I’m looking forward to re-dressing the balance and preparing him for the outside world.
He can do it. And he will!