Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Eleven Second Sprint: The Insane Mathematics of Trying to Open The Door To Delivery Men

It's happened four times this past week. I've been sitting working at my desk when the doorbell has rang. Ever alert to the buzz, I immediately stopped what I was doing, leapt up, ran out of my office and down the one flight of stairs (about fifteen steps) to the front door. Each time it took me perhaps no more than eleven seconds to move from my desk to that blast of cold fresh air and delivery man odour (aka Denim for Men). Yet every single time, I found the delivery man already standing at the front gate on his way back to his van.

Of course, they all turned back and a couple said 'oh, I was nearly gone' to which I replied (slightly breathless) 'you don't exactly give me much time!' They usually smirk and say 'I can't wait around all day.' Apparently delivery men equate anything over eleven seconds to the full 24 hour day.

Despite my size, I am  a fairly quick mover. Somebody smaller or younger or a bit more 'Usain Bolt' might shave a bit of time off my eleven second record. I have a trolley filled with dip pens and ink near the door and I have to squeeze past it to get through. But eleven seconds, I think, is a fairly good time from a sitting start.

What's shocking to think is that had I taken fifteen or twenty seconds, then the delivery guy would have been back in his van and giving his throttle some ankle. I recently had to run from a different room and took perhaps twenty seconds to get to the door only to find the delivery guy climbing back into his van. He was sneering when I literally had to run out into the road to wave him down and he was in a severely unhappy mood when he finally pulled my computer hardware from the back of his van. He didn't even say a word to me.

Now, I know that delivery men have miserable jobs, dominated by hemorrhoids and road rage. I know they're asked to deliver too much during a busy season and that ruptures are an occupational hazard. I know they can't go home, back to their UKIP flags and tattooed children,* until they've emptied their vans. I know that people selfishly order things knowing that they'll never be in to receive them. I have neighbours on three sides who do just that.

However, how quickly do delivery guys think those of us who are home should move and how close to the front door do they think we should live our lives?

My theory is that they must spend their entire day calling at homes where there's nobody in. They have therefore calculated that it's more efficient to ring a doorbell and immediately walk away because in over 50% of cases, nobody will ever answer the door. It's therefore more efficient, in their minds, to have to walk back in the less than 50% of houses where there's somebody in because in over 50% of visits, they save themselves the time of waiting on the doorstep.

This, of course, is a logical fallacy. If they immediately walk away after ringing the bell, they won't ever see people answering the door should those people take more than eleven seconds. And, I further speculate, most people (especially the old and/or infirm) will take more than eleven seconds to get to their front door. It therefore becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Delivery men think there are fewer people at home because they only give us eleven sodding seconds to answer the door.

None of which helps me. I still only have eleven seconds to answer the door before the delivery guy disappears up the street. What I ideally need is some kind of mantrap linked to the doorbell. Only, given these days of dumb political correctness, if I did dig myself a pit and had all delivery men fall into a sealed chamber where they'd have to wait until I arrived to deal with them, some people would say that I'd be in the wrong.

It's a mad world.

* A terrible stereotype** used only for comic effect and for which I can only apologise.
** However, a generally accurate stereotype.

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