Humans in Cabbagetown

This from early pandemic days.

We don’t even bother trying to order groceries for delivery any more. Several times over the last seven weeks we’ve clicked “order for delivery” and then spent fifteen minutes filling a cart on a poorly designed website and put in all of our address and payment info only to press “place order” and get a message that no deliveries are available. But this morning I saw a posting on our neighborhood listserv where someone answered a query about online grocery deliveries saying, “I’ve had good luck with Loblaws, two hour delivery.” Now that’s the same store I’d been so frustrated by, so I thought I’d take a look. I clicked “order for delivery” and the perky little thing seemed delighted to serve me, so I put together a little order to test the system. Nothing more than what came immediately to mind as being in short supply. Milk, bread, eggs, breakfast cereal, cooking oil. And then I clicked “check out” and entered my payment and delivery info and clicked on “make this purchase” and the next thing you know I get a confirmation text. And a delivery window. Weird. So I go back to work, attend a few zoom meetings, respond to several texts from my “shopper” about substitutes (a bag of frozen mangos is not a substitute for frozen berries) and one that said, “surprise, the raspberries were on sale, Dan”, and edit some videos. But around six I get up to stretch my legs and I walk downstairs, wondering if maybe the groceries had arrived (I harbored doubts they really would, the order was really just a Friday afternoon lark, but I figure I should check). But as I land on the first floor I look through the two windows on our two front doors – you need a sealed off vestibule up here due to how cold it gets in the winter – and I see a very scruffy guy leaning over our front gate. Hair kinda long and wild, baggy clothes not exactly intactly worn, many days of beard. Lots of sad fellows in the neighborhood, guys who’d be homeless in a less supportive society. Harmless, mostly, but often challenging to interact with. I wanted to open the inner door so I could look out the outer door window to see if there was anything on the porch, but this guy was leaning over the gate and it looked like he was talking to somebody on our porch, in sort of angry tones, as he were rebuking someone, though I was pretty sure there was nobody on our little porch. I was afraid that if I opened the inside door I’d embarrass the guy, catching him mid-hallucination, or I’d embarrass myself turning him down when he asked me for booze money. So I stood back out of sight. I didn’t want him to get the sense I was shooing him away or that I was annoyed he was invading my property. I walked through to the living room where I could see him from a more oblique angle through the other window and still he was gesticulating toward the porch. And then, suddenly, he seemed to have had his say and he started waking away. And so I returned to the hall and opened the inner door and made my way to the outer door so I could look down at the porch. And there were our groceries stacked in front of the door. And, for about a second, I realized that those groceries could, in this neighborhood, be stolen from the porch. Not very likely, but possible. And so I should have put “ring the bell” in the delivery instructions, not just “leave on porch.” On the other hand, jeeez, what if that guy was hungry and looking over at the bags of groceries debating the morality or safety of helping himself to some? And at the end of that second, as I opened the door, I saw the startled raccoon trying to get away with at least a small piece of the loaf of bread she’d managed to pull out of one of the bags. And she’s looking at me with this expression that clearly says, “shit, just when I get rid of one, another human trying to fuck with me as I celebrate this eureka moment!” as I shoo her from the porch.