Last summer I called the local paper's delivery line at the prompting of my manager. "Call them and tell them we did not get our papers." This was a new job and my first innocent phone call to the paper. I did it and we were given a credit. Hmm...not too bad, I thought, and carried on with my happy new life.
The next day I received an angry call from the newspaper delivery guy. "Call me if you don't receive your papers. Do not call the office. They take away my bonus if I miss three deliveries." I assured him that I was convinced (only through rumors at our office) that it was the work of a thief and not that he didn't deliver them. It didn't matter. He gave me his cell number and a couple weeks later I was dialing it. "Is this Bob?" (I have changed his name for protection--mine) He replied, "No. Who is this?" I identified myself. The he breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh okay, yeah this is Bob." What? Was he on the run from the police? From creditors? From an angry mob of newspaper thieves?
He came by later that day and delivered our papers. We had a nifty little system going there for awhile until, Bob's cell phone had a message, "This number has been disconnected." I had no choice but the to call the newspaper. Big mistake.
Bob's wife came up to our office and blessed me out. Yikes. I got a new cell number to call Bob on. Until, there was never any answer. I had no choice. I had to call the paper. I cringed as I dialed the numbers and spoke those fateful words, "We did not receive our papers today." Then adding almost pleadingly, "I'm sure Bob delivered them, but someone is stealing them." (Although why a theif would choose to steal the newspaper? Unless he was clipping articles of his past thefts.) It didn't matter. I imagined Bob's bonus being withheld and Bob coming after me with scads of rubber band weapons.
I don't know what happened to Bob the last time I called (which was only a few weeks ago.) I still do not have a new cell phone number for him.
Then yesterday there came a break-through in the war. I had just returned from the front door retrieving our local papers. The Wall Street Journal had already been delivered to our office (but usually it sits outside on the Chestnut Street sidewalk until I come get ours out of the four papers delivered to various VP's in the building.) Our building manager visited me, out of breath from exertion. He asked, "Did you get your papers today?" (He knows all about the newspaper war.) "Why, yes," I cheerfully replied.
"Because I had an episode out there this morning." My goodness what could have happened?
"I came in early," he continued, "and was turning the corner and I saw this guy (in slacks and a business shirt, with an ID badge looped around his neck) grab a paper and start walking on down the sidewalk. I pulled my truck over and jumped out leaving the door open and the engine running and took off after him. I chased him down the street. He took off running! I told him, 'Buddy, that's the last paper you steal from us!'"
Aha! We have a spy on our side and a thief who has been identified. I wanted to share the good news with Bob and his wife, but I did not have his phone number. My God, I wonder if he still has a job there?