‘Allow six to eight weeks for delivery’
Burt's Eye View
Nothing so tried my young patience as the words, “Allow six to eight weeks for delivery.”
Six to eight weeks took as long as three years to crawl along by a little boy’s hourglass. The only thing that took more time to arrive than “allow six to eight weeks for delivery” was Christmas.
When we were 6, as many as 17 years passed between Christmases. Everything took FOREVER!
In hopes of speeding up Santa, we wired sticks together into the shape of a tree, used our Elmer’s School Glue to paste Easter grass and construction paper bulbs to the branches and set up our trees in the corners of our rooms. But the Jolly Old Elf was off on his 17-year vacation and never left any presents beneath our glued stick trees.
That’s how the world was back then before Prime, FedEx, UPS and even DoorDash took to the streets, often slamming orders onto the front porch before the shopper has time to log off his app. Now we whine if a meal requires a whole 2 1/2 minutes to microwave. “Why does this take soooo loooong?” we text to our pal a dozen states away, who receives the message the moment we hit “send.”
(Who am I kidding? In today’s hurry-up world, the message would be “y s l?” or whatever abbreviations texters use rather than endure the eternity it takes to spell out full words like “you” and “are.”)
Back in the days when we watched moss grow on our knees, I remember collecting cereal box tops to mail in for the cool toys like detective kits with secret decoder rings, baking-soda powered submarines and rocket launchers. We jammed the requisite number of box tops into an envelope, addressed it to some place called Battle Creek, Mich., and sent it away by Pony Express.
“Allow six to eight weeks for delivery.”
We spent the next six to eight weeks — or possibly three years — running to the mailbox as soon as we stepped off the afternoon school bus.
I suspect grownups hatched this plot so that they didn’t have to trudge to the mailbox themselves for six to eight weeks — or possibly three years.
Allowing six to eight weeks for delivery taught us patience and hope (or exasperation), and encouraged us to eat three to four bowls of Super Frosted Sugar Clumps with Marshmallows every morning so we could collect as many box tops as possible.
Or we’d clip the back-of-the-comic-book ads for X-ray glasses or hand-buzzers, tape coins to the order form, and mail it — and we were back to checking the mailbox daily while allowing six to eight weeks for delivery.
I built a tricky and delicate model of the lunar module, which I received by taping a dime to a coupon for a science magazine for kids. Every month, a new magazine came with some envelope that I passed off to Mom. She banned me from taping any more dimes to coupons after that.
Allowing six to eight weeks for delivery seemed insufferable to little boys. But Mom had to wait nine months for delivery of my baby brother.
“How many years have I been expecting?” Mom groused one day. “Is this kid gonna get here before next Christmas?”
Mom should have ordered him from one of the ads in the back of the comic books. Six to eight weeks is faster than Christmas, but only slightly.
I wonder how many box tops she had to send in for him.
• Message Cole at email@example.com. Allow six to eight weeks for delivery of a response.