Many Happy Returns

Entry by: Alobear

15th April 2016
Many Happy Returns

Gerald made his way to his office, hung his jacket up behind the door, and sat down at his desk. Once seated, he couldn’t actually see over the top of the large pile of envelopes and packets stacked in front of him. He was quite impressed that whoever had placed them there had managed to do so without the pile falling over, since the parcels were not of a uniform size or shape. Some were padded envelopes, others were thin but durable Tyvex envelopes, while still others were just plain old paper. The latter were generally quite battered, their contents seemingly too large to be confined therein, and their travels clearly denoted by small tears and unidentified stains.

Gerald sighed and ran his hands through his thinning hair, then adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses. He wondered if he could get away with checking his email for a bit before starting in on the pile. But then he remembered the litany of complaints and requests for information that had clogged his inbox the day before, and thought better of it. Besides, the packages weren’t going to go away on their own, and the number of complaints he received would only go up if he didn’t deal with the pile promptly.

He took a deep breath and reached for the envelope at the top of the stack. Lifting it gingerly, he still somehow managed to catch the corner of one further down, and the entire pile toppled sideways and scattered over the floor. Packets and envelopes skidded in every direction, a couple splitting open and revealing their contents. A sour smell of stale sweat wafted up from one of the disgorged items, quickly filling the small office with its stink.

Gerald leapt up from his chair and picked his way carefully over to the window. He had to clamber up onto a short filing cabinet in order to reach it, but he got it open without too much trouble. He put his foot back down on the floor right on top of one of the padded envelopes and it skidded out from under him. He fell heavily to the floor, banging his head on the metal cabinet for good measure.

Reaching up to rub the sore spot, Gerald thought back to a few days before, when the memo had come through from the Marketing Department. It had told him in curt, unapologetic terms that a mistake had been made in the details for the latest t-shirt to go up on the company’s website. An error in the coding had caused the first two hundred orders for a size large shirt to be sent out in size small instead. A communication was being sent out to all affected customers, informing them that they could get a replacement free of charge, or a full refund, if they returned the incorrect t-shirts to the Customer Service Department forthwith.

Gerald snagged the sour-smelling shirt and pulled it towards him. He shook it out, grimacing at the smell - how on earth had a shirt two sizes too small been contaminated with someone’s body odour? When it was flat, he was confronted by the picture emblazoned on the shirt’s chest, a picture he would be looking at all day, as he dealt with the return requests. It was a bright yellow circle with a happy, smiling face drawn within it.

Many happy returns, indeed.