March 09, 2022

That time I locked myself inside my house

I simply love a bargain; and I'm not even picky.

But I really love it when it's something extravagant.

There I was, sitting in bed in the dead of night with a glass of shiraz in my left hand while scrolling through eBay with my right.

I wasn't looking for anything in particular when...I saw it.

A 100% pure cashmere Marc by Marc Jacobs cardigan sweater in the neutral go-with-anything tones of cream and sandy beige.

It had four pockets, each adorned with—from what I could tell from the photos—heavy metal bronze buttons.

It was a beauty.

But it was the price that made me weak in the knees: 

Starting bid was just $9.99.

At first, I wasn't sure if my myopic vision—or the shiraz—was making me see things. So, I blinked a few times.


It was indeed $9.99.

The listing stated that this sweater was a store return from a high-end New York department store. Pristine condition. Buyer satisfaction guaranteed or a return would be welcomed within 60 days.

This sweater retailed at $645.

My heart skipped a few beats.

I tried to envision what $645 worth of high-quality Italian cashmere would feel like.

I didn't know, but at 10:45 p.m. on a Tuesday night after half a glass of shiraz, I envisioned it felt like something I needed to have.

So I bid on it; I entered $10.50

I probably won't win, I thought. 

As far as I could tell, there were no other watchers (AKA prospective buyers) keeping an eye on this auction. But deals like this had a way of pulling competition out of the woodwork.

There was less than five hours left in this auction—it was slated to end in the middle of the night. I wasn't about to forgo my much-needed shut-eye to enter into a bidding war that would likely end in a shoot-out.

I shut down my tablet and went to sleep.

Que sera, sera.

Between getting the kids up, fed, and out the door for school drop-off the next morning, I nearly forgot about the auction.

I opened my email inbox—fully prepared to find an automated Sorry, you lost this one conciliatory  message.

But, no.

I won.

And I was the sole bidder.

Well, I'll be.

I owed a mere $9.99, plus $5 shipping.

In all, I paid $15.89 for a nearly $700 sweater.

That's 97.6% off.

In a state of utter disbelief, I rendered payment via PayPal, right there in the school parking lot.

Now, all I had to do was wait a few days for the sweater to arrive. I monitored USPS tracking like a hawk; signed up for text alerts and everything.

A mere three days later, I received the coveted notification I had been waiting for, the ping! came through my cell phone as I was making my rounds cleaning the bathrooms. 

The sweater was out for delivery. Right now.

The update induced the kind of superficial giddiness that almost always induces guilt by default, also. But guilt due to shallowness feels a wee bit better than the brand of guilt that's rooted in Oh, sh*t, I'm a fool for spending several hundred bucks on a sweater.

Hell, my sweater was cheap. After all, you couldn't feed a family of four at McDonald's for the price I had paid. 

I glanced at the text and then at the time. I didn't have to wait long. One could set a train by our mail carrier's route.

The thought crossed my mind to just wait by the window for his arrival.

But I was starving.

So I decided to scramble some eggs and put a hash brown patty in the toaster.

And the moment I turn my back to close the freezer door, my peripheral vision catches a glimpse of the mailman ambling away from our house! 

By the time I realize the sweater is on the porch, I race toward the foyer at breakneck speed and open the front door at exactly the same time the mailman speeds off up the street.

The butterflies in my stomach are straight-up gunning for a spot on the next Olympic team by this point.

I open the door, fully prepared to collect a box or soft mailbag off the porch...

But, nothing.

All the mailman had left was a pamphlet from our lawn service reminding us that it would be time to resume service in a few weeks.

I checked the mailbox and porch again.

Both were clean as a whistle.


And that's when the prospect of something far, far worse made the butterflies in my stomach do a nosedive:

What if the mailman got mixed up and inadvertently delivered my sweater to the wrong house? And worse yet, what if he didn't know where the sweater was?

I had to hunt the mailman down.

Like, now. Before he departed the neighborhood.

Think, Courtney. Think! Where is he now?

I knew his route like the back of my hand, and I figured he would be coming back around the block to deliver the other side of the neighborhood's mail in three...two...

I looked up, and there he was, coming back up the street after having had turned around at the dead end.

See? Did I know him or what?

He stopped at the house catty-cornered from ours like he always does, which signaled the second leg of his route.

I went to the hallway by the back door to fetch my Uggs and then returned to the front door. I could see the mailman walking up to the catty-cornered house to deliver their mail.

No problem; I'll catch him before he gets back in his truck and ask him where the sweater is.

I go to twist the lock on our screen door, but it just keeps on revolving. Over and over again.

Maybe the door is actually already unlocked, so I try opening it.


I twist the lock the other way.

Still, nothing.


I've lived in this house for nearly 15 goddamned years, and, somehow—today of all daysI can't work the lock.

It's like I'm starring in some sort of sick, twisted Rapunzel reboot. (If Rapunzel were a middle-aged woman with shoulder-length curly hair in search of a cashmere sweater instead of a prince.)

I'm desperate as all get-out at this point, and if I don't act fast, I'm definitely not going to get to the bottom of this.

I make one last attempt to turn the lock in both directions.

Nope, nope, nope.

And the mailman's off again! Zoomed away toward the other part of the neighborhood.

F*#& this!

I give up on the front door entirely and head to the side door  which leads to the garage, open it, press the garage door button, and, in an impressive display of agility, literally sprint under the rising door.

It's 17 degrees, I'm coatless, but I don't care. 

I'm running recklessly on what I hope and pray isn't black ice under my boots.

I'm fast-approaching the mail truck, and I can see that the mailman's gotten out again.

He turns to face me, slightly startled, I'm sure, by the woman in Lululemon barreling at him like her life depends on it.

Yes, I'm embarrassed.

But, truly, I have zero effs to give at this point.

My dignity, or what was left of it, was probably still at the front door, struggling to figure out the lock. 

I try to conceal just how out of breath I really am. "Um, hi, I just got a text that I have an item out for delivery?" I said to the mailman.


I despise when, in an attempt to be polite, I downplay my assuredness. It wasn't a question of whether I had a received notification.

I had.

I cringed, inwardly.

"Oh, yeah"  he replied nonchalantly, smiling. 

He walked around to the other side of the truck, opened the door, and pulled a soft plastic bag off his passenger seat and handed it to me.

"Sorry, about that. I missed ya the first time around."

I placed the bag under my arm. I replied, "Oh, no problem." 

It's nothing. Nothing at all. I've just been pining for this sweater for the last several days, basically stalked your truck all afternoon, and couldn't manage to open the front doorBut, hey, it's fine.

I return home through the garage door, settle in, and open the package.

The sweater is buttery soft, luxurious beyond measure.

While it looked pristine in the photos, it was even better in person.

Less than sixteen bucks. 

For this?

Sorry, definitely not sorry.

Finally, one more thing: Later that evening, we received a delivery from Amazon.

And, wouldn't you know, I was able to open the front door to retrieve it just fine.

© Copyright Courtney Conover, 2022

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