Hastiest Handiwork
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"Modern Struggles"
by Mike Vuono
July 8th, 2019


It’s late on a Tuesday night and you realize that the current roll of toilet paper in the bathroom is the last one you have. No biggie, you have Prime. You’ll order a big pack and it will get here at latest on Thursday. The current roll is almost entirely full, you’ll be fine.

You place the order from your phone, making sure to move an assortment of seemingly unconnected items already into your cart into the “Save for Later” section. Sorry, analytical book about fairy tales and double pack of C-clamps, I need toilet paper.

Amazon, in all it’s sprawling, cloud-based glory, tells you “Hey guess what dude, that TP is gonna get here tomorrow by 8:00pm. D-d-d-d-dope!” You sigh in relief, finish your business, and go about the rest of your meaningless existence. You sit on your couch while Netflix drones on in front of you, Michael Scott explaining how he’s going to recover local business with good ol’ fashioned business tactics. You’re on your phone, looking at beautiful influencers in beautiful places eating beautiful food and drinking beautiful drinks and just...wow. I wish I could do something amazing like they do.

How come they are always doing cool, beautiful things?

It’s Wednesday now and your roll is half gone. “By 8:00 tonight, I’m fine” you reassure yourself. You don’t worry much about the fact that you’ve taken two craps today. You’re fine. 8:00 and you're fine.

You walk outside to your mail lockers at 8:12pm. You open it and your mailbox has a local "Ad Clipper" magazine, but nothing else in it. No key inside to open one of the package lockers. Your Amazon package didn’t arrive. Okay, let’s check what the app says. “Out for Delivery.” Okay. The driver is probably making a bunch of rounds on his trip, no big deal.

You go and check at 9:37pm. Your mailbox is empty. There are no packages anywhere. Your nerves a little softened, a little less steel, you check the app again, “Out for Delivery” the status still reads. “What the fuck” you say aloud to yourself.

Anticipating that an unforeseen, truly an unpredictable delay of some kind has happened, you resolve to go to bed and check the status tomorrow. You can make it through tomorrow as long as the toilet paper arrives at some point. You fall asleep on the couch in a food coma, your 2245 calorie dinner from Chipotle challenges your body’s ability to process food into energy and keep you awake at the same time.

You awake on Thursday and immediately check the Amazon app for your package status. “Out for Delivery” the app still tells you. Something is wrong, time to chat with Amazon.

You first talk to a bot. You copy and paste “need human” three times to get a living person on the other end of the window to talk to you; to tell you where your toilet paper has gone to. To tell you what horrible accident the driver got into last night, what ditch his dead carcass was pulled out of in the middle of the night, what the police told his wife over the phone when they called her. Anything short of this information will leave you unsatisfied.

“Hi, I’m David” the chat window says. “How can I assist you today?”

“hi david i was wondering about my order #111 9061838 4487894” you type immediately.

The chat window closes. “Motherfucker” you exhale in frustration. You click the chat button on the app again. The app itself closes. you clench your teeth as you tap the app button from your homescreen again. Nothing happens. You clear the windows on your phone. You tap the app again. Nothing. And then, your phone turns off. Michael Scott on your TV, who is talking about the dangers of C.R.I.M.E.A.I.D. pauses and looks directly at the camera. His mouth opens slowly, extending longer than it should. His voice distorts into a low register. He begins to scream, his eyes seem as if they’re drooping downward, like they’re melting.

You wake up. What day is it? You grab your phone which was by your side, it’s Friday. Did you miss a day, what happened? It’s noon. You walk out to your mailbox, you see a locker key inside of it. “#12" is written on the key itself. You find the corresponding mail locker a few rows down and open it. A package is waiting inside. It’s always been there. Amazon never fails. It is you who was not ready for delivery.

You grab the package and walk back to your apartment. You feel like something strange has happened, but you aren’t sure what. You toss the package onto your couch and plop down next to it, Instagram already opened on your phone by the time you land on the cushion. Michael Scott isn’t in this episode. He won’t return until the end.