Friday, February 06, 2009

Mystery Meat

We planned to leave for the airport at 3:30. At 3, Hye Sook decided to step out to get some snacks. Soon after she left the doorbell rang. In our apartment, there's a small camera on the door that lets you see who's out there. Generally, if I don't know the person or I didn't order any packages or anything, I just don't answer. The reason why is that most of the time it's someone peddling one of two things: deep discounts on brand name merchandise that are too good to believe or religion. In either case, I'm not interested.

This person was persistent, though, and after the third or fourth ring, I answered. He tried to hand me a package.

"We didn't order anything," I said.

"Just take it."

"No, we didn't order anything."

He took out a piece of paper and showed me the address. "This is your place, right?" he said.

"Yes, but..."

"Then this is yours," and he tried to hand me the package again.

The package was a huge, big enough to hold if not a microwave at least a small toaster oven. And it was made of Styrofoam, which made it all the stranger. I wasn't about to take some strange foam package just because someone offered it to me.

"Who sent it?"

"I don't know. I just have the address. Just take it."

It was a couple more no's before I finally gave in, thinking I could just throw it away if nothing else. As he walked away, I asked him what it was.

"Meat," he said. That's when I knew for sure he got the address wrong.

I opened it up, and the man certainly wasn't lying. It was what must have been about 20 pounds of beef, nicely packed into baskets and then placed in the cooling container. Obviously, I'm not an expert on the cost of meat, but I venture to guess this was well over one hundred dollars worth.

Hye Sook got back soon after, just missing the action.

"Why did you take it?" she asked.

"He made me."

"Made you?"

"Yes, he made me take it."

"Who's it from?" she said, looking through the package.

"I have no idea. There was no address."

"What did the guy say?"

"He said to just take it."

She looked at me suspiciously. I imagined she was thinking this was some kind of joke I was playing. I could see in her eyes she was sizing me up, wondering if I would really go to this length just to play a joke, one she obviously didn't get. When she finally decided that it wasn't, we talked about what to do with it.

We had to leave for the airport, so we couldn't take it to a meat-eating friend or family member. It was too much to stick in the fridge and would most likely be in less-than-prime condition when we got back in four days anyway. We couldn't send it back, since the delivery guy had no markings, had given me no delivery slip, and there was no address on the package.

Eventually, we decided to give it to the security guard downstairs. He could give it back to the delivery guy once he came back after realizing his mistake, or at the very least, have a meat party himself with 20 pounds of free meat.

"No," he said.

"No?" I couldn't fathom why he wouldn't take it.

"No, if you give it to me, it's my responsibility. Call the company back."

"I can't. He didn't leave a slip."

"What did he look like? Did he have on a uniform?"

"No uniform. He was just a regular guy with a package of meat."

"Why did you take it?"

Honestly, at this point, I wasn't sure. It had seemed like my only option at the time.

After several frustrating minutes, I think the idea finally sunk into his head: free meat. He took it.

As I sat on the plane, I wondered what could have possibly happened:

Someone sent me a gift? No, noone that knows me well enough to send me an expensive gift would send me meat.

The addresses got mixed up? Maybe, but if he wasn't sure, why would the delivery guy have been so insistent?

A practical joke? I suppose, but who do I know that would go to that length? I have to admit that if it were a practical joke, it was planned and timed perfectly.

I half expected a bill for wrongfully-taken meat to be on my door when I came back from Hong Kong, but there wasn't. One week back and there still seems to be no meat blowback. I hope the security guard had one hell of a meat party.