The folks at Central have changed their attitude towards me. Or possibly I’m just projecting as I walk through the open office with a bit of swagger. That’s right, you need me more than I need you I think while proceeding to the conference room where I’ll meet Carol. This isn’t necessarily true. But I let it boost my confidence.
The conference room is bigger than Carol’s booth. And considerably brighter, despite having the same number of windows, none exterior. It’s also a helluva lot cleaner. The table is about the size of the booth’s desk. A few more chairs can be fit in around it. At midday, it will double as a lunchroom for a few employees. First come, first serve.
Carol unceremoniously begins detailing our premium service. I expect at some point she’ll include why I’ve been selected. I look around for donuts and pastries, provided just for the occasion. None exist. No fresh fruit either. Huh, that’s weird. I swivel on one of the ergonomic desk chairs, assuming Supervisor M will bring in the bounty soon.
“You know why you’re here. But I’m going to have to plow through a few things regardless,” Carol says. She reads from a small stack of printouts.
“Our premium service is for those willing to pay more, in order for their packages to be the highest of priorities. It’s just not about speed either. Discretion is often a factor. You’ll soon find out why.”
“Why?” I ask.
“Shut up. This is a client spending over three times as much as our normal service. Treat them as you would your best friend. In your case, I can give you examples of what friends are, and how to treat them.”
“Ha. Ha. So funny Carol.”
“You’ll like this next part. There’s a mileage and parking reimbursement. Really sticks it to those who cycle. Often times they’re not even considered for premium. Just for that reason. We need someone with a car, ya know?”
My initial response is to freak out. How am I going to list my mileage? Do they just need a starting point? They wouldn’t need to look at my nonexistent odometer. I’ll tell them it’s 25,465. No, that’s too low. I wouldn’t have such a new car. Let’s say 77,599. Yeah, that’s better. If I go too close or over 100k miles they may reconsider. Perhaps I just give the number of miles traveled every week.
Then what about the parking? Likely I would need to turn in parking stubs. I’m not sure how to fake that. The mileage reimbursement now seems so easy in comparison. I’ll need to find used parking tickets somehow. Or ask strangers for tickets usually left in their windows. Seems like a job in and of itself. However, these are just bonuses should I be able to pull them off. Bonuses increased exponentially by taking public transit. Game on.
“Nor should they be Carol.”
“Well, you’ll have to dress nicer too. Get some Dickies or something. Wear slacks. Maybe a clip-on tie if you really want to go above and beyond. Be pleasant with the ‘clients’. Again, they’re paying over three times as much for this, and whether or not they’re aware of that fact, we have to assume they are. Got it?”
“I think so…but are they paying twice as much, or what? I didn’t hear any mention of that.”
“Listen wise-ass, I can find someone else.”
“Take it easy. I’m just razzin ya because I’m excited Carol.”
“Good. Go home and change, then get out there.”
My first super-special delivery is easier than expected. The total trip from point A to point B is less than two miles. I could’ve walked. Not that I did. It took longer for me to get the package signed for, than the entire travel time. No joke, the recipient asked about a dozen times if I looked in the box.
“Did you look in the box?”
“Did you look in the box?”
“Did you look in the box?”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I almost ask. Then “No.” Continuing on and on. I want to ask if they need me to contact the authorities. Just for the reaction. I’m not supposed to do stuff like that. After I leave I really wish I would’ve looked in the box. Should I start looking in all the boxes?
Recency bias makes the second super-special delivery seem extremely difficult. The expectation was created that these would all be quick, short trips. Just easy money. I then have to travel nearly ten miles north just for the pickup. The recipient is contacting me every five minutes to check my ETA. Everytime I provide the update they remind me to be careful. And I have to be polite with them.
I’m starting to feel the premium pressure, as I’ve heard it called. The destination is another seven miles from the pickup. When I arrive, the item is a heavy sculpture that sits on a front porch. How the hell am I going to move this? Back on the app that brought me here, I have to request and cancel several rides before I get a driver that looks like they might be able to help. This is based solely on their profile picture.
The guy arrives and I knock on his window. Indicating for him to roll it down. I explain the situation and the help I need. My little ‘speech’ is book-ended by citing the big tip involved. During said speech I notice several old parking stubs on his dash. These could make up for the cash I’ll need to dispense. We finally get it in his trunk, and wouldn’t you know it, he has a bounty of bungee cords to tie it down. I chose well. Another ETA inquiry I ignore.
My new assistant drives carefully. Slowing down over obvious bumps and potholes. I get excited at the sight of a liquor store we pass. The premium-induced stress made me temporarily forgetful of my recent progress in that area. I remain on my best behavior, for now. Soon enough we’re pulling over to the curb.
“All right, here we are.”
“Hey, I know this is a strange question, but can I have those old parking stubs?” Because I haven’t asked enough of this guy.
He doesn’t even bat an eye at this request. Grabbing what is a handful of garbage to him, and passing it to the backseat. The impatient recipient of the sculpture is pacing right next to the car. I nearly hit him with my door as we get out to unload the monstrosity.
“Careful, careful, watch your step. Careful, careful,” he buzzes around us.
“Where do you want it?”
“In front of that tree, but you’ve really got to watch your step. Promise me you’ll watch your step!” I don’t say anything. We set it down and get out of there. I keep this driver on the clock all the way to my next pickup. Only a few more miles. I’m sure to follow through on the much deserved tip. Some in cash, and some via the app.
So far so good as a premium courier. This new position has my confidence soaring. Maybe a little too much. I screenshot a picture of a 30-day sobriety chip off of the internet. In a matter of seconds, it’s texted to Myra with the message Making progress thanks to you.