I had a blast. Especially on Christmas Eve. My favorite memory was when this girl maybe eleven or twelve years old opened the door. She was blonde and had braces and you could tell she was going to be pretty. But at the moment she was just cute goggling over the toaster-sized box I held out.
She said, "Thank you," in a whispery voice that would have made Philip Marlowe die and go to detective heaven in the YA version of The Big Sleep. I still see it through a sort of Instagram cotton-candy filter, this pajama-clad girl in the glow of the Christmas lights around the door grinning over a theoretical toaster oven.
That was my Charlie Brown epiphany in a set of braces, the summary of what it means to have any sort of tradition where a brown box can transform into something as wondrous as the Northern Lights.
I know it's sappy, but all those hours of pounding up and down stairs in the rain, nibbling on candy and hoping my knee would hold up dissolved into a moment of satisfaction that made it even better when, at the end of the shift, my driver pulled over and we stared at the empty shelves in the bowels of the truck. It was a little past six o'clock.
"What the fuck," he said.
He couldn't believe it. He'd never used a helper before and this was the first time in years he'd finished on Christmas Eve that early. Another gift.
I'm passing up UPS to make more money freelancing this December.
But for the next five weeks when I see UPS trucks flying through the neighborhood, I'll be thinking, What. The. Fuck.