Bullitt's Bros

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dadecdote: It's My Life!

Back when I was visiting my parents, a couple of weeks ago, I decided I would mail a lot of my books from my old home to my new office in California.

The process started with the usual missteps: I first went to Office Depot (with Dad) to buy big boxes. I had a lot of books, after all, so the more space, the better, right?!

Well, obviously not. Books, I should remember, are heavy. Boxes are made out of cardboard, which is the Unitarianism of the board-world; in other words, weak. Of course, I didn't make this realization until after I had assembled all five of these big boxes and filled them up with books. As they ripped to shreds in my hands, I thought: "this probably won't make it through the shipping stage."

So I went to U-Haul. I decided to buy some book-boxes. They worked well, but I didn't buy enough. So on a Thursday, I thought to myself: I'm going to go to the post office, mail out the boxes I filled, buy more boxes at U-Haul, fill those, and then mail those out. The problem was, reality intervened.

So here's the nub or the story, the "reality" part. Our insane Romanian housekeeper [IRH] was raising hell again, complaining about something or other. Probably her car costs, or that she wasn't appreciated. Or she was telling Dad how the financial markets worked. Whatever. In any case, as I was getting ready to go mail my boxes to the post-office, Dad asked me:

Dad: San [son], do you want me to go weeth [with] you?
Me: Uh...why?
Dad: To help you!

I thought about this for a second. I know for a fact that Dad is a squirrely guy, so I was thinking: maybe he wants to get out of being around our housekeeper? It would be a fairly sensible thing to want; he can't very well say, "I must leave the presence of thees annoying woman", so he was being canny. Good for him!

Me: Yeah, that'd be good. You should come along.
Dad: OK! I will get ready.

While Dad got ready, I put the boxes I had ready in order. All told, there were seven boxes. At this point, IRH got in on the act.

IRH: Robert, you can't take all these boxes een your car!
Me: Uh...why not?
IRH: Because zere are too many of them!

Then Dad rejoined the party.

Dad: Yes, san, you should not take so many boxes.
Me: Yeah, why is that again?
Dad: Because you cannot feet them in your car.
Me: Actually, I'm pretty sure I can...
IRH: Your father eez right. You need to put some of ze boxes een your car, and some een hees.
Dad: No, you should take four today, and take the rest on Saturday.
IRH: No, you cannot take zem on Saturday, ze Post Office ees closed on Saturday because eet ees ze day after ze Fours of July!
Dad: They are not...closed...on...Saturday.
IRH: Yes, zey are! Take two cars today.
Dad: No, san, we will take two trips, today and tomorrow.

Now, you have to admire the underlying premise of the conversation between these two accented crackpots. Whatever the case with the boxes, one thing was for sure: I couldn't do this alone, and I couldn't do it in one trip. Even though seven boxes of books would easily fit in my car, both Dad and IRH knew that, even if I somehow managed to fit all seven boxes in my car, once I got to the Post Office, I would be completely flustered. I have no idea what they thought would happen; would I get to the Post Office, then just leave? Would I go in and just throw the boxes all around? Would I place them on the floor and look at them blankly, wondering why the magical postal fairies hadn't taken them away?

Long story short, I ended up taking two trips. Remember, I had to get more boxes anyway, and with Dad in the car, that would just be too much to explain. So I went to the Post Office, mailed off "ze boxes", and went home; before Dad and I left, though, we were sure to check the hours on July 5. Sure enough, the Post Office was open that day.

When we returned home, I informed IRH of the Post Office's hours. "Zat ees strange," she said. "Zey must have changed them zis year!" Ah, yes. She must have been right all along but for some freakish decision by the Post Office to take away days off from their employees.

By the way, at the Post Office I asked Dad why he was so intent on coming with me. It was to escape IRH, right? "No," Dad says. "I just thought you needed to be able to pay for the boxes." Ah, that was why I couldn't do it alone--because I wouldn't be able to figure out that transactions require an exchange of goods and services!*

All these years, I thought Mom and Dad were both crazy. It turns out, Mom didn't start out crazy; she was driven to it by Dad.

*--I know, I know, he was just paying for the boxes to be nice, not because he literally thought I didn't know how to buy things. I just like my uncharitable way of putting things better for the purpose of my story.


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