Feed the Beast

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We all have a price we must pay for our petty addictions and grand vices. Nothing in this great big beautiful world is free, especially when we enter the heady, turgid world of pitiful obsessions and dark, uncontrollable urges. Just as Faust paid with his eternal soul for his fleeting taste of sweet divinity, so we must all sign in blood on the dotted line and be prepared to give the devil his due in return for having our itches scratched.

Last week I spent an endless afternoon and evening awaiting the latest fix for my addition, another banana for the monkey on my back, a donut to feed to my beast. What was this dime bag of pure digitized bliss of which i speak? Well, what else by the Zune HD, Microsoft’s new OLED touchscreen MP3 Player. The device is not available outside the US, and on top of that it sold out in the US during the first weekend on sale…but I had one winging it’s way to me thanks to the happy goblins of FedEx. Memphis to Frankfurt to me…sounds easy, doesn’t it? Like Elvis off to the Army?

Well it wasn’t.

Before it was over I would end up in a deserted parking lot with a machete armed dumpster diver and a nearly naked old man in a Subaru, but I am getting ahead of myself.

The surreal nightmare actually began the night before as I was ensconced in the beloved darkness, my bloodshot eyes lit only by the cathode love of the laptop. The FedEx tracker kept mockingly informing me that my package had arrived in Frankfurt, apparently liked it, and was unsure when it would leave. DRATS!

I waited until the late hour forced me to abandon my vigil, spent refreshing the tracking page several times a second but to no avail. Still in Frankfurt. I consoled myself with the thought that it would surely decide it was time to leave once the bars closed and then speed it’s way here to me. News of it’s travels would without fail be awaiting me on the tracking page in the morning thought I as I wrapped my arms around my now threadbare Cares-A-Lot Bear and surrendered to gadget filled dreams…

When I finally arrived at my desk the next morning and confidently brought up the FedEx Tracking Page I nearly spat Double-spastic Industrial Cappuccino across my football field of a monitor. STILL IN FRANKFURT! Unmöglich!!!! Furiously I debated what could have gone wrong. Flaming plane crash? No, nothing on CNN. Zombie attack? No, nothing on io9. Perhaps it is all a mistake and they simply didn’t update the tracking system? Unhappy with choice 3, I went back to worrying about the zombies for the rest of the morning. At that very moment some unspeakable undead monstrosity could be dripping spinal fluid on my precious Zune HD!!!

Fortunately it WAS just an error, and at 9 AM the tracking page suddenly clearly stated my package had arrived at my local FedEx depot sometime during the night and entered customs. At 11 AM, the clever ruse I had devised having fooled the customs agents, the package was cleared and as the tracking site serenely informed me, had been loaded onto a FedEx vehicle for delivery! I was quite certain it would arrive soon after lunch and allow me to spend a decadent afternoon immersed in warm, gooey gadget erotica. Perfection. Joy descended on Mudville.

At 5 PM it was still on that accursed FedEx vehicle for delivery!!! What vehicle, a hamster wheel? Did the driver have some deliveries to make in Kazakhstan first? Had the zombies chased the verdampt thing from Frankfurt and eaten the driver’s brains???? Dammit, it was time to take action. Therefore I went to speak to the shipping manager in my office and begged her, saying I was waiting for an ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL package and she began to make phone calls, possessing the mobile numbers of people at FedEx here who had their hands on the buttons.

A few calls with the tracking number and she found a man who could give her answers. Yes, they had the package. How can we be sure it is the right one. A conversation over the phone and the shipping manager looks at me. “The customs declaration says the box contains…cookies?” Ah yes, my clever ruse to get it through customs had come home to roost, or to crumble perhaps.

I nodded. “Cookies. New year’s gift” She nodded. I nodded again and forced a smile. More conversation. More nodding. Yes it was on a vehicle, yes it was on the way. When would it get here?

More nodding, why I don’t know.

“Soon…”

Soon obviously didn’t mean in the next two hours as 7 PM rolled around on the day before a holiday weekend and I was the last person in my now totally empty office with no Zune HD while I stared at the tracking page in mute horror.…”Loaded on a FedEx Vehicle for Delivery”.

ARRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP

It was time for more action and after much webdigging I finally found a local FedEx support number, with a person still there!

“Yes, still on it’s way, let me check…yes it is in a “special taxi”.”

A special taxi!!! What was so special about it, it couldn’t move???!!! When would it get here?

No idea, he would speak to the driver of the special taxi and call me back.

I called HIM back, same difference.

“By 10 PM.”

AAARRRGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

No it has to be here by 8 PM, my cab is here at 8 PM!!!!! I could feel bitterness and withdrawal tearing at my flesh like two bandaids, ripped off at the same time.

“I will tell him it is urgent..”

Urgent….right. It had been urgent seven hours ago, now it was just psychotic.

Finally at five minutes to 8 I surrendered, and made my way down to the street to await my cab with a heavy heart and a bad disposition. I called the man at FedEx, my heart on the floor of the elevator like a six dollar massage. “Forget it, I have to go. Have him bring it Monday morning. Happy New Year, burn in hell eternally. BuBye.”

I had abandoned all hope. I was like a gravy boat drained of all it’s gravy by an unexpected attack of schnauzers and left in the back yard to mold. I had become grief. My need was to be left unfulfilled. My addiction burned in my gut like a toxic flaming oreo.

My office happens to be in the middle of nowhere, the back of beyond, surrounded on three sides by fields and at times looks like the sort of place inbred villagers cruise looking for potential werewolves or shapely hitchhikers.

And there I was, standing in a barely lit street in the middle of nowhere that was totally deserted save for a single figure half a block away, picking through a dumpster.

He kept stopping and staring at me like His Master’s Voice gone bad.

Great.

And my cab was late. Five minutes, ten minutes. No longer just late….it was late late. Wonderful. Dumpster guy was done, having found a dented minitower case, a few broken circuit boards and what looked like a machete in the dumpster, and was headed my way. What a day not to have a taser with me.

That was when I heard it. A car. Sort of.

Weaving up the street came a beat up Subaru apparently from sometime in the late 50s with no windows to speak of and a sticker on the hood that read “Tranns Am”. It clanked past dumpster man and myself, barely made a left turn and parked dead in the middle of the empty parking lot, surrounded by darkness.

Until a blazing light went on inside the Subaru. A flashlight. A big one. Mulder?

Finally a voice came from somewhere deep inside the Subaru like God if God were a frog, saying my name, or what sounded like it could be my name if I were actually a Venezuelan woman. Close enough. I rushed up to the Subaru as dumpster man went past me with the tower case, circuit boards and the blade from a ceiling fan. Lucky I didn’t taze him.

Once I got to the Subaru and peered in through one of the missing window, I saw a wizened old man in the driver’s seat, nude save for a pair of tight satin running shorts, holding a battered clipboard and surrounded by FedEx boxes of all sizes. It was all a blur from then on as I tried to keep my eyes on his face afraid of what else might be in his lap. ID presented, page signed, happy new year wished…and I had one of the myriad FedEx boxes in my hands as the Subaru clattered away into the darkness.

The box was mine, and inside it, my Zune HD waited at long last as I stood in an empty parking lot lit only by the glow of a new moon hanging low in the velvet sky. I was just ripping the cardboard open when I heard a honk…my late cab had arrived. Tumbling into the backseat I soon held my new device in my hand, resisting the urge to make Daffy Duck noises and thought on the strange nature of luck, and fate, and time, and kismit and karma, late cabs and dumpster guys with machete envy.

True, I have a monkey on my back, but I must admit it is a monkey I thoroughly enjoy. Technology is my friend, gadgets are my playthings, the universe is my banquet. Life is good.

Feed the beast.

Oh, by the way…I named the Zune HD Luna. I thought it fitting. Check out my review of the little darling HERE.

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