in umbra, igitur, pugnabimus: the LCBO wars-Day 11
I related in yesterday’s blip my ongoing saga with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and its inability to deliver the products it sells, despite advertising that it could. I’m not going to recap too much today – but thought, before I go and cry into my pillow, that I would provide a quick update.
You may recall that I received an update (but no notification card) yesterday telling me that an attempt to deliver various bottles of life-sustaining spirits had been made, but that nobody had been home to accept the delivery. This, of course, despite the entire province of Ontario being on lockdown, my being chained to a post in the basement, Ottawacker Jr. having the ears of a starving hyena in the savannas of Africa, and Mrs. Ottawacker slogging her guts out in an upstairs room for the Benevolent Factory.
Having contacted the LCBO via email and provided sundry pieces of personal information – order number, inside leg number, life expectancy in minutes (decreasing in days as I speak) – I was told by a very nice lady called Sylvia that, in fact, the parcel of life-sustaining spirits was indeed now located in my nearest postal outlet, which happens to be in a Shoppers Drug Mart some five minutes’ drive away from the LCBO I did not want to visit. (Quite how the shoppersdrugmartification of Ontario has managed to include post offices is a matter I have not yet got my head around.) This, I was told, was because Canada Post no longer wanted to expose its postmen to the Covid19 virus, and where signatures are required – as would be the case with my order –, pens would have to be exchanged, IDs checked to ensure I am over 18 (it’s a tight call with me, I get that), and possible contact made as parcels were handed over.
On the face of it, that all sounds very reasonable. Until, says he dropping into the government-speak that was part of the reason he ran away from the government screaming, one starts to drill down to the granular level and examine what that means.
I assume, for example, that the post office counter at Shoppers Drug Mart is still a manned station (can you still say ‘manned’? Should it be personed?) and that you don’t go up there with your notification (which I still didn’t have) and choose your own parcel from among a myriad lying on the floor. (Actually, I know from experience that the parcels are kept in a back room and that the 87-year-old attendee has to push her zimmer frame from the counter into that room and come back kicking the parcel along the ground in front of her, rather like Odd Job in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a process that can take upwards of 15 minutes. If you have two parcels to pick up, you may as well go for a pint at O’Brien’s pub down the road while you wait.) This will, of course, entail the said postal employee touching the parcel, not to mention a hernia as she struggles to pick it up. She will then have to get you to sign for the parcel, either exposing you or both her and you to a shared pen. She will also have to check your ID, which will involve her handling either your driving licence or passport or Barbarella’s gold membership card or whatever other piece of identification you can find in the depths of your wallet. Again, exposing her to Covid19.
The only logical explanation for this is that, in the eyes of Canada Post at least, the people who go out delivering the notification cards to the wrong address (or not delivering them at all) are more important and less expendable than the people who stand behind the counters. This was the gist of the question I emailed to the LCBO, in the expectation that they would understand and say ‘yes, it is indeed a stupid rule, we’ll relax it so that the people who order home delivery and paid $11.95 for the privilege don’t have to go and expose themselves to the virus in a pharmacy, which after all is probably more dangerous than a liquor store, it being, after all, where sick people go to self-medicate.
What I didn’t expect was a “Thank you for your email, we have asked Canada Post to return the package to sender.” I sat there, stunned – barely comprehending that a parcel on which I had spent 10 days waiting was to be returned to the depot before I got my hands on it. My Ricard. My Guinness. My bottles of Chateau Pey La Tour, my Laphroaig…. Gone, gone, gone, in the blink of an eye. I felt like Niobe, mourning my children.
Immediately I sent another email – all in capital letters – DO NOT RETURN TO SENDER. PLEASE CONFIRM.
But I had shown my hand. Sylvia now knew she had me by the short and curlies – and no matter how well-groomed I am, that is a position from which the grip is tight and there is no recovery. I sat there cringing, waiting for the next email. I could almost predict its content:
“Do you want this box or not?”
“Do you really want it, I mean really want it?”
“Then say it. Say it for me. Tell me you want it.”
“I want it Sylvia. I really want it.”
It was going to be like a scene from a really bad 1970 BDSM porn movie, and I was going to have to be the poor moustachioed hippy with a Leo Sayer hairdo lying prostrate on the floor with a dominatrix’s stilletoed thigh boot heel on my neck. This wasn’t going to be good, no matter what happened. I waited and waited. The antici….. pation was killing me. Eventually the email arrived. Sylvia had let me off the hook (and that can be a metaphor if you want).
I’ve rescinded the cancellation order, she said. It is ready for pick up from tomorrow at 10 a.m.
And that was it. The end of my relationship with Sylvia. There were so many things I wanted to tell her, so many things I needed to say. Like, can I send my wife in my place because, you know, I am in self-isolation and might be dead by tomorrow morning… but in the end, I just said thank you and hit send, another poor sap screwed by the provincial liquor board.
An hour later, we got a phone call. Ottawacker Jr. picked up. “Dad,” he said, opening the door to my dungeon and shouting down. “Francesca called from next door and said she has some mail for you. And there is a notification for a parcel for you to pick up.”
Of course, I am going to cancel the order. Having a guilt complex about sending Mrs. Ottawacker to a place where she might become needlessly affected by my keyboard warrior purchases (caveat emptor) is not something I want. Just in case there was any confusion about this from her perspective, she had me spend 90 minutes doing an online shop with Loblaw, our local grocery. There, for the price of a kidney, we get to pick up groceries in two weeks’ time; hopefully they will be packed fresh in two weeks’ time, and not packed today, left for two weeks and then handed over to us. Normally I would take this as given. Today, however, I am not so sure.
Today’s blip is the Ottawacker family communicating via Zoom and me carelessly revealing where the missing box of cookies went. Who’d have thought we’d live to see the day?
**I would like to add that Sylvia is not her real name and even if it were, she is not a dominatrix.