In the basement of my Mt. Airy Philadelphia apartment where I lived from 1993-2003, the 8 x 8 foot storage area was stuffed with boxes that I hadn’t bothered to unpack for the entire 10 years that I lived there. One of these was from my great Aunt Irene’s apartment in Pittsburgh (where she had lived with her brother for 45 years). Entrusted to me after she died without knowing what was inside, it lay dormant. Like other items living in that cramped space, I never opened it..
Then I bought a house.
On moving day all of those boxes were crammed on the truck unsorted and unmarked. The 3 man crew then carefully unloaded everything at the house as I waved them right and left like a police crossing guard. “That goes over there, bedroom boxes go upstairs, keep straight. Oh all the kitchen and dining room boxes, just keep moving back”.
So organized, so smooth.
Everything was off the truck and in its proper place except for that unopened mystery box. As soon as the foreman took it out of the truck it succumbed to years of neglect and humidity. The soggy bottom flaps collapsed, revealing a wave of blue and white dishes, never used. They plunged onto the cement driveway with a frightening crash.
Miraculously, only one dish shattered.
This muscular man, who had not stopped moving from the moment the truck pulled up to my apartment- froze. His arms empty, he sputtered “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry”.
Did he think these were heirloom dishes? [They weren’t]
Did he think I would be angry or would complain to his boss? [I wouldn’t]