Because the delivery arrived three to five days early, I hadn’t yet taken time to move the other cartons in the garage and make space for these new ones. I couldn’t leave the boxes sitting outside. Even in a semi-arid climate experiencing drought, each afternoon brings a chance of rain. Even though this is a relatively peaceful neighborhood, burglary and theft are the high-scoring crimes on the police map of local incidents.
So I decided to break an unwritten household rule. Normally we restrict storage to the garage. We have a system of wooden supports to keep the boxes from sitting directly on the concrete and heavy-duty plastic tarps to protect them from moisture that might come from above, even though we’ve only had one leak in the roof in fifteen years. Yet to make space in the garage on the spur of the moment I’d need to move, among other things, bicycles, empty shipping cartons and packaging material, and an additional thirty or forty full boxes.
I began to lug the freight into the house. One box at a time, because that was all I could heft, I carefully moved the cargo down the half-flight of stairs to what in a normal home would be the family room. This looks boringly normal on the outside, but I’ve come to accept that on the inside it isn’t and won’t be as long as we live here. I stacked the boxes in the center of the space, between the support pillars, near the bankers’ boxes in which we archive work papers.
As I transported each box, I inspected it: dings in the side that might have affected the contents? bashed corners that might have done the same?
The boxes come tightly packed, so the contents won’t shift and become scuffed while they’re being moved a thousand miles or more. Usually the cartons come on a pallet, stacked evenly and carefully and then shrink-wrapped into a unit that encompasses the support. Ordinarily there’s some slight damage on the edges of the cartons, but nothing major.
The package services get the boxes here much more quickly than the freight systems, although the shipments are many times more vulnerable to injury. In addition to my standard apprehensions about whether we did our jobs carefully enough before we placed the order, now I had additional concerns about whether the finished job had arrived unharmed. Yes, some corners had been crushed, but it was hard to tell whether badly enough to make the contents unusable. Yes, many of the boxes had gouges in their sides that nearly broke through the heavy-duty corrugated cardboard, although none of that damaged looked serious.
Only two or three packages appeared to have traveled completely unscathed. We usually reship in the original cartons. I thought I might have to buy new boxes to send these to their next destinations.
Yet until the whole delivery was safely inside, all 635 pounds of it, I didn’t go get the utility knife.