One Happy Girl

Well, the camera fiasco has been resolved, but not anywhere near in the way we thought it would be.

After working for three days with Fedex on the phone and getting no information, Kirk finally settled into detailing the situation to the vendor in an e-mail. (He had tried to reach them by phone yesterday, but for some reason they were closed.)

While he was composing the e-mail, I noticed there were gardeners working in the yard next door.

"Hey, maybe one of them knows something," I said to Kirk. "Maybe one of them is G. Ramirez. Should we go out there and talk to them?"

Of course, by "we," I meant "him."

So Kirk went outside on a mission. When he came back, he looked dazed and said it was kind of strange. He had asked the men if anyone there was named G. Ramirez, and they all pointed to one of the older guys. Kirk approached the man and asked if his name was G. Ramirez, and the man said yes. Then Kirk asked if he had signed for a package last Saturday, and the man said no.

"Well, we have a signature for G. Ramirez on file for a missing package," Kirk said, "and you happen to be G. Ramirez. Are you sure you didn't sign for anything?"

"No, no . . . no package," the man said in broken English. "I no sign for package. When I sign for package, I put on front door."

"Okay, well, don't worry about it," Kirk said, and then casually mentioned that since my dad was a cop we were sure to get it resolved. And then he came back to the house.

When he relayed all of this to me, I couldn't believe it. Here was a man who said he was G. Ramirez, and he was right there in front of us, and yet he denied having signed for it, meaning we couldn't do anything more. I just couldn't believe the craziness of this situation, and neither could Kirk. We stood there at the front window, staring at them.

A few minutes later, Kirk got on the phone to call Fedex again. He was hoping to get more answers than the call us back tomorrow line he had continued to get every time he called.

I went in the other room to unpack some of our bags. Suddenly, right outside the bedroom window, it sounded like someone had started up a lawnmower. I looked outside, and sure enough, the same men working next door had now moved into my mom's yard . . . which means not only does G. Ramirez do the yard for the lady next door, but he's also one of my mom's yard men! Even more proof that he was probably the same guy who signed for the package. Who else could have been at my mom's house with that exact same name when she wasn't here??

I wanted to confront the man again so badly, but really, what could we do? Force the guy to bring the package back from his house? No. Call the cops? That seemed a little extreme, especially since he denied having done it. And would any of that hoopla have been worth it? Probably not, especially since we were likely to get a claim resolved between Fedex and the vendor, even if it took a long while to do it. I just kept thinking about that man's daughter, how happy she would probably be to get such an extravagant gift from her dad on Christmas morning, something totally unexpected and beyond what he would normally be able to give. It made me sad, but it also drove me crazy.

So I did the only thing I knew to do: I called my mom. (She had left earlier to clean out her classroom at school.) When I told her what happened with the yard men, she said I should try to talk to the main guy, Alex, who owns the business and is in charge. She said he speaks good English and is very nice. And since she had a question about her bill that I could legitimately ask him, it would be easy to break the ice.

I took a printout of the Fedex signature with me and went outside to talk to him.

Alex was so kind. Very honest. I could tell within ten seconds that he knew nothing about the situation. He said they hadn't even been in the neighborhood on the day the delivery happened. He also said he didn't have an employee by the name of G. Ramirez and proceeded to point out the names of everyone there. No G. Ramirez among them. (It turned out that Alex was the one Kirk had talked to before, and he had somehow misunderstood the question about his name being G. Ramirez.)

I showed him the printout of the signature, but he didn't recognize it. Besides, most of the guys who work for him don't know how to write. And since the question I needed to ask him on behalf of my mom required that he write something down for her, I was able to see his penmanship, too, which was nowhere close to matching the signature on file for the package.

During this time, the lady next door had stepped outside and was standing in her driveway watching us talk. She's somewhat eccentric and not altogether friendly, so I waved to her from the curb to let her know I wasn't there to do any harm. She yelled something at us in her usual crabby way.

When I was done talking to Alex, I decided to go up and talk to her. Who knows? Maybe she received the package by accident. Sinec she's not the most friendly neighbor in the world, I wouldn't have put it past her to refuse to deliver it to my mom, to just wait my mom out until my mom came calling around the neighborhood looking for it.

Turns out she remembered a Fedex delivery truck stopping by last week. They had parked right in front of her house, she said, and then walked over toward my mom's house. No, she didn't remember seeing anyone at my mom's house when this happened. And "oh crap," she said in response to my telling her about the missing package. "That's ridiculous," she said, standing there in her nightgown and her oversized glasses. She was quite the character.

So I trudged back to the house with no further clues as to what had really happened to the package but at least the knowledge that it wasn't the lawn guys after all and that my mom's neighbor hadn't received it by accident.

When I got home, Kirk had good news. He had finally gotten through to a Fedex representative who was helpful. She said no one had even yet looked at the trace on the package, so she did it for him right then. Said the package had been left with a cleaning lady at a home with a wheelchair ramp.

Well, that was certainly not my mom's house. In fact, the house across the street has a wheelchair ramp.

The lady said she would contact the driver, who would need to be the one to retrieve the misplaced package if Fedex was going to continue being involved in the proecss. Meaning, if we tried to retrieve it ourselves from the neighbors across the street but something went wrong and they refused to give it to us, then Fedex would no longer be willing to work with us on a claim. We would have taken them out of the loop.

So all we could do was wait. And stare at the house across the street from the window in the front room. And tap our fingers. And wonder how long it would take the driver to come around.

Ten minutes later, there she was on our doorstep.

"You're here!" I cried, so glad to see her. (At this point, Kirk was on the phone with another company about yet another package we discovered had been delivered with a problem.)

"Hi . . . I'm your driver," she said. "I was just around the corner when I got the call, so I decided to come right over. Can you help me understand what happened because I'm almost positive I delivered a package to this doorstep last week."

I explained about my mom's leaving town with the first notice in her hand, about the signature being required but the person who signed for it not being anyone we knew. I told her about the wheelchair ramp and the house-help comment that the representative had mentioned on the phone. Then I showed her the copy of the signature.

All of this started to bring the driver's memory back. She snapped her fingers and said, "I'm on it. Just give me a few minutes while I go down the street. I think I know where I left it." (Turns out it wasn't the house across the street after all.)

Another ten minutes later, and she was back, package in hand. I jumped up and down and let Kirk do the honors of signing for it. I wanted to hug the girl, I was so happy. We were so relieved!! She even said the lady who received it had placed a call with Fedex to come and pick it up, since she was too frail to walk it down to my mom's house herself. Isn't that nice to know that she had tried to right the situation, too?

Of course, as soon as the driver left, Kirk opened the box and handed the camera over. "No need to wait until Christmas on this one," he said. "You deserve to receive this gift right now."

And you know what? The camera is perfect. It's a metallic pale pink, just like my phone. It's super-cute in its tiny pinkness, the perfect size to carry around in my purse, and has all sorts of features that will help me develop my creative photographic chops beyond the mere point-and-shoot method. It even has a surprisingly large LCD screen, despite its tiny size.

Want to see?