Wednesday, February 15, 2006

When it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight...

Maude and I usually don't do much for Valentine's Day. It's a made-up holiday that ranks only slightly above "Love Day" and "Spendover." (I do wish I could have gotten her Lord Huggington, though.)

However, this is the first Valentine's Day since we've been married that Maude has worked in an office. We watched the American version of the Office on Thursday, which has a running joke about the secretary, Pam, and how horrible her fiance Roy is. Everyone in the office gets a Valentine gift except for Pam.

Roy: "What's wrong?"
Pam: "Nothing. It's just that I had to sit here all day while Phyllis got like an entire garden delivered to her."
Roy: "What, you're mad at me?"
Pam: "I mean, I know that we said no big gifts but I was kind of hoping that you'd get me something for Valentine's Day."
Roy: "Well, Valentine's Day isn't over. Let's get you home and you are gonna get the best sex of your life."
[Cut to a shot of Pam, exasperated, staring at the camera.]

Obviously, TV is not a documentary (though the Office is shot in a mockumentary style) but I didn't want Maude to be the only one without flowers at the office. I went to and ordered her some flowers. I had to get the more expensive bouquet to ensure it would get to her on Valentine's Day.

During the day, I called her up. Nothing had arrived. She called me as she was leaving, and still nothing had come for her. I bought her some back-up flowers at the supermarket with all the other schlubs (and which were a fraction of the cost of the FTD bouquet).

I called customer service to cancel my order at 10:30 pm on Valentine's Day. The recording warned that wait times could be over 45 minutes. To get my sixty bucks back, I thought it was totally worth it. So I turned the volume on the phone all the way up so I could monitor the tinny hold music and watched some terrible men's figure skating with Maude. (By the way, did you see that skater with the "007" rhinestone outfit? He pantomimed throwing grenades, shooting into the audience, and boxing with an invisible opponent. The worst thing I've ever seen, and not just on TV.)

At about 11:15 pm, I started doubting whether there was more than one person working at the customer service center. I decided to set the phone down, off the hook, and do the dishes, get ready for bed, etc. When I picked the phone up again at 11:45 pm, the hold music was still going strong. Finally, a couple minutes after midnight, an extremely weary sounding woman came onto the line. I felt bad for her, because I could imagine what her day had been like. I gave her my order number and waited as she investigated.

She told me that the warehouse had been shut down all day due to a biohazard scare, and that was why my flowers hadn't arrived, but that they would get there tomorrow. I wish I had asked the customer service woman the following questions: 1) What kind of biohazard could a flower warehouse possibly have? 2) There's a warehouse? Doesn't FTD just forward your order to a local florist? 3) Why would I want to send my wife flowers from a biohazard zone? Happy Valentine's Day, honey! Please don't kiss me, I want to wait and make sure you don't get sick. Has that mole always been there?

Unfortunately, I didn't ask any of these questions. There was an awkward pause while I tried to line up my justifications for a refund in my mind. First of all, I had purchased a more expensive item just so that it would be there on Valentine's. Secondly, I had already bought replacement flowers. Thirdly, sixty bucks is a lot of money. So I persevered, "Um, is it still possible to cancel the order? I kind of wanted them to be there on Valentine's."

I felt bad, like I was asking this minimum wage telephone operator to eat the cost of the flowers instead of a huge flower cartel who apparently can't get their act together on the most important flower day of the year. "Okay, I will refund your money and tell them to destroy the package," she said. This sounded like something out of a spy movie ("Destroy the package!") but she made it seem like I had personally chopped down part of the rain forest and thrown it away.

Will I actually get my money back? Will the infected flowers find their way to Maude regardless? I don't know, but I'm ordering a bunch of stuff from here, just in case. I just hope they can get it to me overnight.


Enochville said...

Very funny story! Thanks for sharing!

Stephen said...

Well, assuming you used a credit card, if the charge shows up on your next bill you contest the charge, pointing out that they agreed to cancel it and your credit card company will give you a charge back.

Wendy said...


My husband, who is usually a sexy wordsmith when it comes to writing Valentines, made me a "gay cowboy" themed Valentine (he knows I loved the movie) with the words "I wish I knew how to quit you.." written inside. The shock of it all still hasn't worn off.

NFlanders said...

Thanks, Enochville.

If they charge me, Stephen, I will retain you immediately.

Wendy-- That's hilarious.