This week I experienced possibly one of modern humanity’s most awkward situations. It is that of the eBay purchase direct pick up.
Two days previous, in my many hours of procrastination (which is saying something, considering it’s only the second week of semester), I embarked on our online shopping friend just for a casual browse. This for me is quite regular, but rare is the occasion when I actually put my mouse forward and buy something. However, this was one such occasion. I spied a set of DVDs – A box set, if you will – of one of my favourite television sit-coms, 30 Rock. It was at a bargain price, considering it’s condition, so I decided that I should offer a certain amount of money to its purchase. Miraculously, I won the bidding war (It was a Buy–It–Now item) and found myself the owner-to-be of a set of discs that should provide me with hours of entertainment.
As I went forth to pay for my item, I noticed that the current owner also lived in Sydney. This made me question the extravagant extra fee that I was being charged for postage (seven dollars). I decided then to contact the seller and request that I retrieve the package from them directly.
And so a date was set for the transaction to be completed! A central location was selected (quite literally, Central Station). A series of communications were exchanged between the Seller and I (like, four text messages), confirming that the man I was purchasing my treasure from was a gentleman named William.
And so I stood at the designated meeting point, with enough funds to present my deliverer with secured in my pocket. I had received a communiqué stating that he would arrive within minutes. I began analysing passers by and trying to guess who would be the one to bring me my prize. I eyed a passer who I considered a possible candidate, though he walked by without a care. Another stood near and inspected his iPhone, I guessed maybe about to send me a message questioning my location, but no, no message arrived and I continued my wait.
Then he appeared, as if to break through the crowd towards the dowry he so desired. I knew he was the man I was looking for as he was holding my dearest in his left hand. And thus, the interaction began.
I shook the man’s free hand and offered a greeting, which he returned. He automatically moved the item towards me, and I grabbed it with enthusiastic force. I inspected it all over, turning the encasing box in my hands. Upon approve, I reached in my pocket and handing dear William his earnings, which he took and pocketed himself. Then there was a pause, I looked at him and he looked at me. The break must have lasted just a second, but it may have lasted hours. That was it, the end of our journey. I had received what I wanted from dear William, and William had received what he wanted from me. I held my hand for him to shake again, and as he obliged, I sent my regards and turned away, never to see him once more.
It is a frightening thought, is it not, to know that our social interactions have become so simple and emotionless? I will not think of William when I watch my DVDs, nor will William think of me as he spends his money. But such awkward interactions have become a commonality. Should I have engaged in a form of conversation with William? Should he have offered me any words of good fortune with my purchase as he left? Or did we just reenact the process of a bank transfer in person?
Or maybe I should just next time pay the extra for postage?