The unexpected joy of not knowing when your package will be delivered

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Listen, I was as big a fan as any of the free, near-instant online shopping delivery that became the norm over the past several years. But something odd happened once covid-19 stripped away that convenience: I rediscovered the joy of actually waiting for stuff you want in the mail.

Online shopping has become a hugely comforting activity during these times of uncertainty. Yet at the same time, we all need to be conscious of putting less strain on the already overwhelmed essential workers fulfilling and delivering those orders (especially from Amazon). Now that people’s lives are being risked to keep up with the huge spike in demand, superfluous online shopping has taken on a dimension of unmistakable immorality.

The thrill of finally getting that thing you’ve been desperately wanting is real.

But maybe part of reconciling these two opposing needs during the pandemic lies in reframing the longer wait times, delivery delays, and more frugal online shopping habits. Because the thrill of finally getting that thing you’ve been desperately wanting is real, sometimes even the only event to look forward and break up the unending monotony of a bleak quarantine day.

Becuase the truth is that what is and isn’t an “essential” online shopping purchase isn’t always black and white, either.

I don’t need the Smith Scabs protective roller skating pads in the unicorn color in the same way that people need face masks. But considering they’ll help keep me safe (and looking rad) while enjoying a new hobby I’ve picked up to stay sane and physically active while social-distancing — well, that feels pretty necessary. On top of that, it lets me support local businesses, since a skate shop in North Carolina was the only one who had the unicorn color in my size (somewhat) left in stock.

It’s like all the folks waiting to receive pre-ordered Nintendo Switches and sold out vibrators. Will these items save the world? No. But it will help keep us hunkered down and coping throughout the quarantine marathon needed for public safety.

One day you will be mine, my pretties.

One day you will be mine, my pretties.


Before hitting the buy button on these mystical beauties, I also spent literal hours researching the best protective gear, all the available colors, and deciding which would match best with my skates. Truth be told, I can’t remember the last time I spent so much time being a conscious consumer rather than an impulsive. I mean, these knee pads were more thoroughly vetted than my TV.

Since making my non-essential yet essential purchase earlier in May, it’s been an agonizing waiting game — I won’t lie. At the beginning and end of every day, I go outside to check whether my mystical beauties have arrived so I can stop using the ugly, ill-fitting, poorly designed $20 pads I managed to pick up at Target. While the disappointment I feel each time it’s not there is real, it pales in comparison to the exhilaration I’ll feel when I finally open up the box containing my blindingly, obnoxiously colorful saviors.

Sometimes, being inconvenienced makes for a better payoff.

It all feels like a throwback to the days when I had to figure out my USPS delivery person’s schedule so I knew exactly when to run out to the mailbox to check if that pre-ordered video game or college acceptance letter came yet (OK, those have different stakes, but you get it). It’s like nostalgia for the radio, when you had to catch your favorite song by chance instead of always having it immediately available on your iPod or smartphone.

Sometimes, being inconvenienced makes for a better payoff.

Maybe coronavirus can be an opportunity for all of us to become more conscientious online consumers even after this is over. Of course, Amazon’s business is still booming. But delays in delivery and interruptions to supply chains have hampered its ability to be the place you get everything you could possibly want, exactly when you want it.

And that’s great. We’re being forced to rethink the human cost of what we all knew was a too-good-to-be-true phenomenon.

But beyond that, some (like myself) might even find pleasure in going back to the days when it took a good amount of time to get a package you didn’t have hourly tracking information on.

The dopamine hit of receiving packages was already a huge part of online shopping’s addictive appeal before. Corporations like Amazon capitalized on it by making ordering as mindlessly easy and astoundingly fast as possible. But now that we can’t do that, I’m starting to question who actually benefits from that too-good-to-be-true delivery system.

Amazon turned the joy of receiving packages into something gross.

Amazon turned the joy of receiving packages into something gross.


How often do I really ever need anything that quickly? During non-pandemic times, what do I really lose by having to wait or go out and get it myself? In most cases, not much. I also gain the money I’d otherwise spend on useless shit because it’s just too convenient to resist.

The only ones that “lose” anything by doing away with the whole impossibly fast online shipping phenomenon are those corporations exploiting not only workers but also our psychological weakness to making impulse buys.

So do the world a favor — especially the essential workers breaking their backs in production lines, shipping warehouses, and delivery facilities who deserve our consideration. Don’t get frustrated your stuff Isn’t here yet. Luxuriate in the experience of delaying gratification.

You know what they say: Great things come to those who wait…for packages.

This article was originally published on

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