Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My weekend o' stupidity

It was my Weekend O’Stupidity. And I’m hoping it’s definitely over. The stupidity part, I mean. There’s no question the weekend is over. But I hope my streak of dumb moves is finished for now as well.

On Friday night, Rick and I watched a Netflix movie on his laptop. Saturday morning I slipped the DVD into the red Netflix sleeve and dropped it into the mailbox when I went to the post office. But later that day at home I discovered I’d left on my nighttable the white DVD sleeve, which has on it the bar code that links the DVD to our Netflix account. So even though the DVD would be returned to Netflix, they would have no way of marking it as returned by us; it would arrive anonymously.

I called Netflix customer service and explained. The associate was kind and reassuring. Netflix has recently started including bar codes on its outer envelopes, she told me, so if we happened to have received one of those newer envelopes, it would reflect our account information. Even if not, she told me, she’d make a note in our file that we had indeed returned the DVD.

And at the time, I believed we had returned the DVD. But then shortly after I got off the phone, Rick opened the DVD drive on his laptop and pulled out the movie. The same one we’d watched on Friday.

“But I returned that!” I protested, despite the physical evidence to the contrary. “It was right next to the computer so I put it in the Netflix envelope! If the movie is still here, what did I return?”

“That would be a disk of proprietary software from my office,” Rick responded grimly. Not customer data, fortunately, just proprietary software. So now the software disk was on its way to Netflix with no identifying information with which to return it, and I still hadn’t returned the movie itself.

Accordingly, I was determined to be ahead of the game with the next items to be returned, which happened to be a book of Holly’s and a DVD the kids had watched over the weekend, both of which belonged to the Carlisle library. “I’ll bring them with me on Sunday morning and drop them into the library’s book drop after church,” I decided.

Somehow that’s not what happened, though. What did happen was that as I was leaving the Whole Foods parking lot and passing by the Bedford post office, I blithely (and stupidly) rolled down my window and dropped the book and the DVD into the drive-by mailbox, realizing one second after I did so that, of course, a mailbox is different from a library book drop. Oops.

It was a sequence of stupid missteps on my part. I can fall back on the excuse that having just moved my entire household last week, I’m a little distracted, but I should know better. I’ve long known that if anything, you should be extra vigilant as far as staying attentive and focused at times when there’s a lot going on. A friend who is married to a police officer once told me that it’s a common occurrence for officers to assist someone in an accident – car, household or other – who says he or she was just returning from visiting a spouse who is in the hospital recovering from major surgery or an illness. In other words, it’s at times of stress that we lose concentration and end up putting ourselves in peril.

I wasn’t exactly in peril, other than potentially having my Netflix account canceled, my library fines tripled and my husband possibly fired, but I was clearly showing signs of distracted living. I knew I needed to refocus, for my own safety and everyone else’s, before I did something even dumber.

I called the Bedford post office at 7:30 yesterday morning and explained that I’d accidentally dropped a book and a DVD into the mailbox. The clerk who answered asked me the titles of both. “So mine might not even be the only library book and DVD in the mailbox this morning?” I wondered. “Do the postal workers retrieve an abundance of non-mail items every Monday morning from other people as inattentive as myself?”

I didn’t ask this, but the clerk verified that the items had been discovered in the mailbox and she would keep them there for me. I stopped by late yesterday morning to pick them up. A kindly male postal worker in the handling area handed them over. “You called this morning, right?” he asked. “I heard Sue talking to you. I thought it was very strange that she asked you for the titles. Obviously they were going to be the only book and DVD in the mailbox.”

Well, so maybe it’s not so common after all. But it definitely taught me a lesson. I’ll pay closer attention to what I’m doing now than I have been. Distraction is inevitable, but making this many mistakes is not. I’ll redouble my efforts going forward to send Netflix DVDs back to Netflix, return library books to the library, and keep my husband’s proprietary office software in his computer where it belongs.

And maybe then my Weekend O’Stupidity will be relegated to a distant, careless memory.

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