Karma, party of one. Two. No, one.

By Mir
December 15, 2006

One of the things I really like about my parents is that—in spite of my having been a thoroughly obnoxious child, and probably none too winning in various stages of my adulthood, either, come to think of it—they seem to understand two very important things:

1) It is their God-given right to spoil their grandchildren,


2) That spoiling thing goes much better all around when they check in with me first.

This arrangement fills me with joy, because my children are happy, my parents are happy, I am happy (because the kids get things which I perhaps cannot afford on my own), and I never have to worry about opening the door to find a Shetland pony or a stripper on the porch.

(I kid. None of the grandparents would send a stripper until the target child was at least 16.)

Anyway, such as it is, when Christmas or a birthday rolls around, there will be some discussion of What Would Be Good and then, often, I will do the actual shopping because shopping is one of the three things I’m really good at (one is cutting hair and two is none of your business). Again, this works out perfectly in most cases.

Well, this year I do believe the grandparents are actually outdoing Santa. (I suspect Santa is a grandfather, himself, and does not mind.) After much discussion and research and consideration, it was decided that we would lump together Christmas and birthdays and get the kids their own…

… um, I feel like I should do this in code. Just in case.

The kids are getting their own omputerkay. Shhhhhh!

[And the heavens opened and the angels sang and I wept with gratitude into my keyboard at no longer having to share or worry about little fingers deleting my files.]

This is the part of my story where I hang my head in shame and confess that after an afternoon of comparison shopping in earnest, I ordered something from a big box retailer whom I loathe. But! Such a good price! And just this once! Yes! An omputerkay for an ypocritehay!


I was on the phone this morning when UPS rang my doorbell. At first I figured my delivery guy was doing his standard ring-and-run routine, but then I peeked through the window and saw TWO guys wrangling something very large, so I decided I’d better check it out.

When I opened the door, one delivery guy yelled to the other, “Hey! Someone’s home! Let’s get them inside!” And the next thing I knew, two gigantic boxes were sitting inside my mudroom. I thanked them and—noticing that they’d shipped in product rather than plain boxes—commented that I was glad I’d been there, because it would’ve ruined the surprise if the kids had come home and seen. The guys chuckled and headed back to their truck.

It was then that I noticed that the boxes were identical.

And that both boxes claimed to have all the pieces inside.

“WAIT!” I ran out to the porch. “Wait! I don’t think these are both mine.” The guys exchanged a look. What every delivery person wants during December is people who make their job take longer. But one of them checked the invoices and his clipboard.

“Yep, they’re both yours. Nice. Says here, two boxes.”

Horrible big box retailer. I had one receipt, I’d been charged correctly on my credit card. And they’d sent me a double shipment. They probably screwed it up at the warehouse and had no idea. I could probably just shut up and no one would ever know.

“No, I only ordered one.” I sighed. “Can you take the other one back?” Again, there was A Look exchanged. They probably thought I was insane. Or one of those shopping addicts. She ordered two and now has buyer’s remorse!

They took the second one back and put it on the truck. (Otto asked me, later, if they’d had me sign anything to show I’d refused shipment. They didn’t actually ask me to sign either for the delivery or the refusal. Do you suppose they sent it back or did rock, paper, scissors to decide which one of them got to take it home?)

After they left, I took my one box down into the basement for proper hiding. Then I steeled myself for the final step.

I called customer service to tell them what happened. This involved waiting on hold for nearly twenty minutes, and then trying to explain to a sweet young thing exactly what transpired, while she kept exclaiming, “Well bless your heart!”

I wanted to tell her to stop blessing my heart; the truth is that if it had been a less expensive item, and/or something smaller and more logical to have an extra of, I probably would’ve taken the delivery, waited to see if they figured it out, and perhaps just accepted it as a stroke of good fortune if they didn’t. This is to say that I am not a girl scout by nature (I can see you’re shocked), but this was such a big mistake, there was no question in my mind about what needed to be done. And I wanted to make sure they didn’t get the return shipment and credit me for the shipment which I’d accepted.

That could still happen, actually. I was not convinced that they’ll figure it out, but we’ll see.

Anyway. I found the whole thing sort of eye-opening. Rather than feeling virtuous (or even just matter-of-fact) for my actions, I spent a good chunk of the evening wondering where the line would’ve been, before I would’ve felt no compunction in just going, “Ooooh! Bonus!” That’s not a realization about myself that I was happy to have.

Maybe there’s a reason this happened. Lessons to be learned, and all of that.

But I reserve the right to laugh if they get all confused about the return. I’m only human, you know.


  1. Sara

    I think the UPS guys were playing poker with the Comcast guys. Guess who brought the best ante?

  2. Sharkey

    I thought you were going to say that the grandparents were being extra-generous this year, and had ordered the second one for you!

  3. Sandra Tayler

    We once ordered something that came with a free scanner. We were delighted when the free scanner arrived. We were confused when it’s twin showed up a few days later. We emailed to ask for instructions how to return the duplicate. While we were waiting for the reply, a third one showed up. By the time the fourth one was delivered I was starting to envision opening my own business or perhaps just giving them away as gifts. Free scanners for everyone! Alas my compulsive honesty forced me to call them. Eventually they sorted themselves out and requested the return of the three extra scanners. Warehouse places are weird and at the mercy of their software or dumbest employee. At least they paid for the return postage.

  4. Cele

    So I guess Otto shouldn’t expect a stripper on the doorstep from your folks?

    Just wonderin’

  5. Mary Tsao

    Wait. You’re not a girl scout?! I am shocked.

    I almost can’t believe you were letting those sticky-fingered kids use your computer! That’s a good mom, for sure. I wish I could be there to see their faces when they open the box. How exciting!! Even if it’s just one. P.S. I wouldn’t tell them this story.

  6. bob

    so shopping is just your 3rd best and cutting hair is 1st? knowing of your shopping prowess and having ABSOLUTELY no knowledge of #2 (Otto – ABSOLUTELY NONE) I cannot imagine why you don’t have your own salon charging ridiculously high prices for hair couture.

  7. parodie

    It’s strange to be faced with a situation that so clearly illustrates a moral dilemma, isn’t it?

    I once got home from textbook shopping only to realize that I hadn’t been charged for a textbook. Now, while it was expensive, I was not broke, and I couldn’t live with myself just taking a 100$+ book from the store. I ended up returning and paying for it. Most of my friends thought I was crazy, as did the salesclerk (she was also verrrry puzzled).

    Good for you for sticking to your principles, no matter the what-ifs.

  8. Brigitte

    You are a good girl, Mir. I still feel vaguely guilty for getting an $18.00 bag of fresh shrimp for $1.80 (about 15 years ago). If it had been just the young, inexperienced cashier there, I would have pointed out his error, but his middle-aged trainer was right there showing him how to enter it! Damn, still feel guilty . . .

  9. Muirnait

    Aw, sometimes honesty’s just a kick in the pants, isn’t it? ;-)

  10. Jenifer

    Oh, I think you are much more virtuous than I….2 kids, 2 omputerkay’s (don’t want to ruin the surprise) no fighting over whose turn it is…….oh i woulda kept em both!!

  11. Julie

    Remember when we were doing the comparing and the shopping?? Don’t you remember the big BUY ONE GET ONE FREE sign??


  12. S.

    Congrats to you for doing the right thing. I recently found out that my forty-year-old co-worker steals snacks from the cafeteria, so it is especially refreshing to hear that there are still really good, honest people out there.

  13. laura

    ^ WTF??

    I read through about half that comment waiting for it to turn into something about your integrity or something. That’s a very interesting new kind of comment spam you’ve got there!

  14. Daisy

    Two things in your favor: your honesty and integrity (okay, that makes it three) and the fact that you were alert enough to notice it right away. Even though you’re not a Girl Scout.

  15. sumo

    Speaking as a Boy Scout, not all of us are ‘boy scouts’, if you catch my drift. I’m assuming the same goes for the girls. Of course, I’ve found that people pretty much act like people regardless of their affiliations.

    This story reminds me of your experience returning the FEMA money. I really hope this is not a repeat performance.

    So have the kids made you think about setting a good example, or is it just growing up and realizing “finders keepers” isn’t really the best legal or moral code? Or do you watch a lot of “My Name is Earl”?

  16. Meritt

    I’ve ‘been there and done that’ too.

    3 (?) years ago I ordered 2 “Gooey Louie” games from Walmart. I was charged $42 total for 2 games. When the box came the packing slip confirmed I had 2 games and I was charged $42.

    What did I get?

    Two brand new Sony Digital Cameras.

    Almost $1000.00 worth of cameras … for free.

    Yes – I drove to Walmart, stood in line, finally got to customer service and explained what happened. I think the whole customer service department went silent in shock. The woman waiting on me told the woman next to her. They both told me Walmart never would have known… my credit card was indeed only charged $42 for 2 games.

    They thanked me and I left.

    …. but I’ve always wondered if they pocketed the 2 cameras since there was literally NO record of them being sent or even existing at all.


  17. Carolie

    I love visiting your blog, Mir. You give me HOPE for the human race.

    Integrity lives, and she’s got two kids!

  18. Jules

    I completely forgot about Lowes sending me two complete sets of kitchen cabinets..moulding and all, when we were building the house. Of course it never occurred to me that even though my 26×19 living room was completely full to the point of being unable to get through it with boxes that my 10×14 kitchen might not be functional with all those cabinets…

    Yes, we had them come back and get them… Yes..we pretty much had the same reaction when trying to convince them that we didn’t order nor pay for an additional many-thousand dollar kitchen configuration.

    We did open all the boxes to pick out the ones with the very best knot holes in the doors because that was the draw to this particular style in the first place :)

  19. Judy

    It’s always surprising to service people when they run into someone who IS honest about things like that… or if they give you too much change, or anything. It makes me sad that honesty is viewed as such an aberration in this day and time.

    I had something similar happen… I’d gone to buy a money order to pay a bill with and the girl at the post office made it for $100 more than it actually was. I was glad when I returned it later this afternoon… I came to find out that when her drawer was short, she would have had to replace the money.

  20. Kimmie

    Santa is a big cheapskate here. He’s kind enough to refuse to bring tons of things when he knows we’ll be dragging a u-haul of gifts back from my parents’ house Christmas Day.

  21. The Other Leanne

    Thanks for clarifying my own moral dilemma–I bought two Christmas fir garlands the other day, was charged for two, but discovered when I got home that there were three tangled together. The extra one has been sitting in the bag ever since (only because I was too busy turning 50 to deal with it) and I’ve been trying to decide what is “the right thing to do.” Take it back? Give it to a friend? Keep it and give the store five bucks? The lovely Miss Joann Fabric will be so surprised when I return it, and I won’t feel like a thief every time I look at my Christmas decorations. You’re my hero, Mir.

  22. Jenn2

    Okay, I’m gonna be the only pessimist in the group and ask if you opened the box and made sure you do indeed have all the parts. Because Dell shipped my computer in two boxes and both were marked they had all the parts, except one was a monitor and one was everything else.

    Just wondering.

  23. Jenn2

    Bless your heart!

  24. Stephanie

    Sometimes when I mail order things, I get a freebie in the box. Maybe this was one of those things. Could be.

  25. Chris

    Once upon a time I went to Sears to order a couch and a reclining chair. They told us it would take 4-6 weeks to be delivered. On the Wednesday night before the due date (just before a three day holiday weekend) the store called to confirm delivery of both items the next day. My husband was recovering from back surgery at the time and had to lay down at all times, so we had been reluctant to have our existing furniture picked up by his niece, who was going to give it a new home. But with confirmation received, we told her to come get it. We waited all Thursday morning, we waited all Thursday afternoon, and we waited all Thursday night (my husband in bed all the while). We called on Friday to be told that a mistake had been made and that no furniture would be delivered for 4-6 weeks, again. I arrived at the store at 4:30 pm on Friday and demanded a loaner couch- the exact style we ordered (but with a sofa bed). After understanding our situation (which was described vociferously in a loud voice in the hearing of all the other furniture department customers) the manager came round to our way of thinking and had the floor sample delivered to our home the next day. All was well until 6 weeks had passed. The new couch was delivered and we asked the delivery people to take the floor sample. They declined. We called the store. No managers were available so we left a message…. We called the next day and left another message. No return calls were made. All told we left 17 messages over the space of 6 weeks. We finally agreed that you can only go so far to rescue people from their own incompetence. This store branch closed 10 months later. The matching couches graced our living rooms for 15 years, but my brother always refused to sit on the “stolen” one. It still continues to serve at an in-laws place. And they lived happily ever after, with clear consciences.

  26. kathy

    I’m the type to send the 12yo back to the Tarjay cashier to pay for the 1.99 panties that had escaped the scanner while the 4yo is sobbing in a hysterical breakdown of the routine sort, so I’m not surprised by your honesty, but I do have to ask, who was the Big Box Place?

    We boycott Walmart (for obvious reasons) but support Costco (great to their workers) and Tarjay (gives 5% back to the community; c’mon it’s true, isn’t it?) but normally only shop thriftstores cause then I don’t feel too badly about purchasing items made in China and quite honestly, once you start all your purchasing at thriftstores, anything else is grossly overpriced. So who is the big box you avoid?

  27. InterstellarLass

    I don’t think I’ve been the lucky recipient of double prizes. I don’t think I would have thought to think of it till later, when I was putting everything togther. It most certainly would have gone back though!

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