Chickadee leaves for college in two weeks, in case you’re counting. I was counting, for quite a while there—I was counting down until a wonderful, mythical day when ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER as we worked through that less-than-halcyon time when your college-bound teenager suddenly morphs into a prickly, cranky, spoiled brat. I hear this is perfectly normal, and that my reaction of wanting to strangle her with my bare hands was also normal. That time came, and went, and now we are just finishing getting her ready and enjoying each others’ company. And realizing we are going to miss each other. A lot. So part of me wishes we were back in that place where everything was an argument, because emotions are stupid.
We all know I shopped for a solid year, seems like, making sure that my kid would have everything she could possibly need for her tiny dorm room for the next year. I was mostly-done months ago, and she and her roomies have collaborated and negotiated and everything has been worked out. We’ve had a mini-fridge—given to us by a generous friend whose kid no longer needs it—forever. The roommate is bringing a microwave. Perfect. And then I made the mistake of reading one of those lists of THINGS YOU MAY HAVE FORGOTTEN BUT YOUR COLLEGE FRESHMAN TOTALLY NEEDS MORE THAN OXYGEN kinds of lists, and it featured a fridge cart. You know, a little wheeled metal cube with mesh storage drawers and a wood top, perfectly sized to hold a dorm-size fridge. Dishes and snacks fit in the cart, it keeps the fridge off the floor and expands your storage, etc.
I thought I was done shopping, but I saw this thing and decided Chickie needed one. (Me: “Do you want a fridge cart?” Her: “A what, now?”) And because I am me, it turned into An Adventure.
A different person—okay, FINE, let’s just be honest, here—a NORMAL person would’ve proceeded thusly:
1) Read article.
2) Become intrigued by fridge cart.
3) Drive to store, buy fridge cart.
4) The end.
But I… am me. So here, my friends, is how it went when I decided to undertake said purchase:
1) Read article.
2) Become intrigued by fridge cart.
3) Look at fridge cart online. Decide fridge cart is too expensive.
4) Look around online to see if fridge cart exists at any other store.
5) Determine that it must be bought from that one particular store. Let’s call that store… The Box Depot.
6) Log on to my Discover account online, check to see if The Box Depot offers partner gift cards. They do!
7) Redeem Cashback Bonus dollars for gift cards in the approximate amount needed to buy fridge cart.
8) Realize gift cards are only offered in physical form, not electronic, and I will have to wait for cards to come in the mail.
9) Wait a week.
10) Cards arrive!
11) Get online and put fridge cart in my shopping cart. Realize I have another $5 to spend.
12) Spend upwards of 2 hours searching for something we actually need in the $5 range to add to order. Finally find a lunchbox container that seems useful and add it to my cart.
13) Place order, paying just under $1 out-of-pocket for the whole thing.
14) Glow with a smug aura of bargain-ninja superiority.
15) Excitedly report to teenager that her fridge cart is coming!
16) Wait a week.
17) Check email again. Realize I never received a shipping notification.
18) Call customer service at The Box Depot.
19) Customer service is flummoxed. They swear it has been shipped and I should have it soon.
20) Wait another week.
21) On a beautiful, sunny day, the dogs start barking like maniacs and I realize the UPS man has just dropped a large box at the door. Hooray!
22) I go outside to get it, but as I holler my customary “Thank you!” towards the big brown truck, I realize it is literally peeling out of the driveway at top speed.
23) Upon bringing the box inside, I realize why: This box. Oh, lord. This box. Did the truck actually RUN OVER IT? Was it mauled by rabid beavers? Did those gorillas from the old Samsonite commercials (the ones where you hand over your luggage at the airport and then after it disappears from sight, gorillas throw it around and jump on it) get their hands on it?
24) I open the box—well, I remove what’s left of the box, I should say—to reveal a very sad sight. The frame of the cart is bent. The drawers are dented. And the wooden top sports three out of four broken corners. This box contains NO padding at all. NONE. (Remember this, because it’s weird, right?)
25) I realize a smaller box is outside, as well. It’s the container I ordered. Only, it isn’t. It’s a different container. Which strikes me as hilarious.
26) I call The Box Depot. I explain that I appreciate that after I called looking for my fridge cart, they shipped it, but that what I received is a very large box of scrap material. They are super apologetic. That is simply unacceptable!! They will send me a new one right away! They are so sorry! And when I describe the lack of protective padding, the lady on the phone says she’s making a note that they should add extra bubble wrap.
26a) (When she asks if the other item was okay, I lie and say yes, because I don’t even want to get into it.)
27) Wait a week.
28) UPS comes and drops off another big box one evening. Yay?
29) I bring that box inside. It’s not quite as banged-up as the original one, but it’s looking kind of rough. I am worried.
30) I open the box. Laying across the top is a single strip of brown butcher paper, and an invoice with the note to “use additional bubble wrap.” One assumes the butcher paper was the nod to this note. This box, like its predecessor, contains no protective packing materials whatsoever.
31) The frame of this cart is not bent. Hooray!
32) The crossbars of this cart are wedged so tightly into the largest of the mesh metal drawers, they have punched a hole right through the side of said drawer. Because of course.
33) The top to this one only has one broken corner. Progress!
34) Knowing that sometimes declaring defeat is the smartest course of action, and being home alone at the time of receiving this second damaged item, I go ahead and assemble this cart. Using a mallet and a hammer and making my dogs REALLY annoyed, I pound this way and that and am able to smooth out the hole in the drawer (because it’s wire mesh) and face that part to the back, where it’s hidden. I’m able to reattach the broken corner with duct tape and figure a layer of contact paper over the top might make it usable. Also the instructions say I should attach the top with “the included adhesive strips.” Guess what this box does NOT contain? SURPRISE! I add velcro strips to my mental shopping list, along with contact paper.
35) I go to bed.
36) The next morning I realize I’m being ridiculous, and I call The Box Depot again.
37) “Listen,” I say, “I give up. My kid is leaving soon and it’s clear these items don’t survive transport the way you’re shipping them. I don’t even want a full refund, because I can sort of make this one work. I just… don’t think I should pay the full amount for something that arrived broken. Twice.”
38) The customer service lady at The Box Depot is MORTIFIED. No no no, they will refund my entire purchase price! And send replacement parts! And it’s weird, because it’s such a popular item, but they have been getting SO MANY complaints lately about the way they’re shipped. “That is probably because you aren’t putting any protective material in the box AT ALL,” I point out, ever-helpful. “Maybe you should consider, I don’t know, putting the box inside another box, maybe with some packing peanuts or something?” She says that’s an excellent idea.
39) My money is refunded, and I am promised a replacement drawer and top.
40) I commence not holding my breath.
41) Chickie starts looking for cool contact paper. “This is just going to be underneath the fridge, anyway,” she points out.
42) I realize that I started this adventure pleased that I was spending imaginary money for one last dorm item, and now we have two of said item (maybe Otto can straighten the frame of the first one, and then Monkey is set for next year…?) with more pieces coming AND apparently I still have $100 or so to spend at The Box Depot. But, uh, I think I’ll go to the actual store, next time.
As you can see, my life is quite busy and exciting.
Was that not enough words for you? I have lots of words (not “all the best words,” like someone else, but I’m not orange, either), so here’s some more, if you want: last week on Alpha Mom I wrote about feeling like this last summer before it all changes is slipping away, and then today I responded to a fellow soon-to-be-college-freshman-parent about those college care package services. Neither one of those posts have broken corners (that I know of, anyway). They’ve been metaphorically bubble-wrapped.