Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


We will deliver no wine before its time

I belong to a wine service that promises you incredible wines at an incredible price if you allow them to bank some of your money each month until you’re ready to order. They’ve been banking my money for a while, I’m out of wine, and am trying to find a red zinfandel that I like as much as the one I discovered on this wine country trip — but at a price somewhat less than a car payment.

So, the other day, I placed my first fulfillment order. Twelve bottles, most of them variations of red zins, and also a scattering of white wines that might appeal to my wife.

Unfortunately, when I made this order, I failed to note the significance that my wife and son are out of state visiting my in-laws. Significant because, as the order confirmation warned me, someone would have to be home to sign for the shipment, which contains alcohol — but, now, no one would. The shipment, I was told, would arrive on Tuesday the 13th in a delivery from United Parcel Service. Okay, I figured, I’d work from home on Tuesday, and when the wine arrived it’d be a nice birthday present I’d bought for myself.

DAY ONE: a change in circumstance

At some point early on Tuesday the 13th, I received a message from the wine people that, no, the shipment would arrive on the 14th.

Well, okay. So I went into my office a bit late and figured I’d just stay home the next day, the 14th.

DAY TWO: suspicion aroused

On the 14th, I got an update telling me that the wine was out for delivery as of about 8 a.m. Great! I made plans to work from home and situated myself appropriately. So there I was, from 8 a.m. until about 4 p.m., working from the dining table about a yardstick from the front door, with the front door open and providing endless excuse for alarums from my voluble mutts as, well, anything, absolutely anything, transpired outside that might send them into tumultuous dudgeon. Eight solid hours of sitting and waiting — four times as long as a production of Waiting for Godot. Alas, much as with Godot, no wine. Continued checkins via the tracking number provided no new information except the repeated promise that the wine would be delivered by 7 that night. It wasn’t. In vain, I went outside to look up and down the street — but instead of catching sight of a UPS van, I saw a notice inconspicuously stuck to my door. Paraphrasing, it said “Sorry we missed you. We’ll try again. This shipment must be signed for.” (Yes, of course, we understand, because it contains alcohol.)

Now, I’ll admit that at some time in the eight hours between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. I walked 10 feet away to use my nearest restroom for about, oh, 48 seconds before hastily returning to my perch. This UPS guy, I thought, is very stealthy indeed! He hadn’t even alerted my aggravating yappy dogs, who greet even passing butterflies with zealous anger. He must be a ninja.

I then got this infuriating email from the wine company (not their fault, I know):

We tried to deliver your wine, but missed you.   According to the UPS delivery information, they made the 1st Delivery Attempt today, but couldn’t find an adult to sign for the package. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.

Yeah. I was hiding NEXT TO THE DOOR ALL DAY.

DAY THREE: mindfuck

So now I was heading into day three of waiting for the wine. Bear in mind that I don’t like to work from home. When I’m home, I want to do one of three things:

  • read, or watch something
  • write a play or blog post or something else
  • spend time with family or friends

(I also do home repairs and chores and general upkeep, but I said “want.”)

What I especially don’t want to do from home is corporate work. We have a separate office for that, away from my home. My dogs are unpredictable, and family members are usually home doing what people do when they’re nearby in the same habitat, which is walking around and talking, and I reserve home-time writing for my own creative writing.

On Day Three, I decided to reroute the delivery. I first tried to reroute it to my office — but UPS wanted $12.99 to do that. (Even though they were the ones who hadn’t successfully delivered it yet!) Where was the benefit — let alone the justice! — of free shipping, which I’d earned by ordering a full 12 bottles, if I’d now have to add 13 bucks to get it when it already should have been delivered to me?!?! This would only double my dissatisfaction. I then got a better idea, and created an entire UPS account and set it up to reroute this delivery to the local UPS store. I sat back, filled with pride at this maneuver.

Then I got an update that the local UPS store had rejected it.

And that my 12 bottles of wine were back on the truck.

Driving around in the 90-something-degree heat for another day.

At 7 p.m., I enlisted my next-door neighbor, now that he was home, in signing for my wine delivery on the off chance it might actually show up (because, hey, “it’s out for delivery”) and then, seething, decided on the spot that I was going to get a tattoo, my first and only tattoo, and that the tattoo was going to be the Chinese Tiger, from the Chinese Zodiac, because I was born in the year of the Tiger, and a true Tiger would never stand for this shit. I drove to a tattoo parlor in North Hollywood, had a nice conversation with a heavily tattooed bald man named Angel, and made plans, but learned that he didn’t have an opening until next week and left defeated.

The tattoo scheme thwarted, I drove to my office, checked the mail, came home, walked the dogs at length and in a direction that my neighbor wouldn’t see so he wouldn’t wonder why I wasn’t now waiting for my wine myself, and finally got home, left my front light on until 10 p.m., all the while with the tracking information assuring me that the wine was “out for delivery” and would be there by 7 p.m. — which had passed three hours earlier.

DAY FOUR: stratagems

I awoke early, having slept fitfully with dark dreams of just what I was going to do about this wine situation. Options included:

  • Stay home another day? But then how could I reclaim my self-respect?
  • Reach out to the wine broker. Make it their problem.
  • Fuck those wine people. The wine can just go back, I’m getting it all taken off my credit card, and then they can fight it out with UPS.
  • Sulk.

Finally, I decided I could do a mixture of options: I could stay home for a while, because the thing I had to do from the office today would be near the end of the day. That meant that I could invest the morning in working from home and in siccing the wine company on UPS. Which is what I did.

When the wine company sent me an email saying, “It’s on the way!” and then that email offered a customer-service email should there be any problem, I got on it.

“Is it REALLY coming???” I asked. “UPS says ‘out for delivery’ since 8:59, and I’ve been sitting here waiting. There’s NO update on their delivery status.”

Soon I was in an email back-and-forth with Matteo, who works for the wine company. Matteo told me this:

Hi Lee, 

Thank you for your email. I just spoke with the carrier and it seems that it was diverted to an access point store yesterday but they would not deliver to the access point location. I was told that the wine was on the truck on the way to your home; 07/16/2021. 

Please let me know if you have any further questions. If you feel that we have fully addressed your inquiry, will you please confirm that so I can close this case as resolved? 

Kind regards, 

In the ways of despairing people trying to bargain with the forces of destiny, I was now bargaining with Matteo.

“I stayed home all of yesterday and left my light on until 10 pm. They never came by. 
Please confirm that they’re coming to my HOUSE today .
I appreciate it.”

Then Matteo responded with this:

Hi Lee,

Thank you for your email. I was told that it was on the truck on the way to UPS by a UPS worker. I can just go by what I am told by the carrier. 

Which meant… what? That now the wine was GOING BACK TO A UPS DEPOT?

I’d sat at home for four days, my birthday long ago in the rear view mirror, all traces of wine in my abode now gone, and purchased wine undelivered, and me so consumed by this that all I could see in my mind’s eye or think about was this fucking issue of where is my wine?!?!? much like the man in the painting by Magritte who cannot see his way around an apple!

Me, waiting for UPS, but far more serenely than me

I dashed off another missive to Matteo.

“Wait — ‘on the way to UPS’ or on the way to my HOUSE???
I’m here at home waiting for it!
Please clarify.

Thank you.”

(Please note my ongoing civility. Even though while I was cooling my heels hanging out for four days for a simple delivery, entire nations were busy being born and dying.)

Matteo reassured me that it was coming to my house —


— and, at 3 p.m., miraculously, UPS pulled up outside. Rather than wait for their further mischief, I ran outside and stood visibly on the sidewalk. The driver saw me, hefted what was clearly a box with branding of angelic wine on the side, and brought it to me.

“Were you my driver yesterday?” I asked.

“No! Wasn’t me!” he said quickly.

“Because I was here the entire time! Right by this door! Then yesterday he didn’t even show! I’ve been waiting for —”

“Wasn’t me!” he said again hastily, confirming in my mind that it was indeed him.

He set the box down and started to walk away.

“Wait!” I said. “Don’t you need a signature?!?!?”

“No!” he said. “We’re doing no-contact delivery. We just drop it off.”

(Missing: The scene where I kill someone.)

Before starting this epic post, which merely scratches the surface of this ordeal, I opened a bottle of one of the red zinfandels I’m hoping will adequately cover for the ambrosia I’m trying not to invest my retirement in. I let it air, then poured a glass.


One Response to “We will deliver no wine before its time”

  1. Dan Says:

    A gripping saga of one man’s struggle with a hostile universe, in a tale equal parts Jack London and Franz Kafka.

    Seriously, I know the labor market is tight, but when did UPS start hiring Ninjas?

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