Delivery Note:
The New Dispensation
24 January 2019

ΒΆ When we order from the Chinese restaurant that we like (but have grown somewhat tired of in the late foot brouhaha), we call them up, tell them what we want, and identify the last four digits of a credit card number. We add a tip to the receipt when the food is delivered. It is all very simple and convenient.

There used to be a pizza place where we could do the same, but it closed. Other pizzerie, I find, cannot be reached by phone. You have to go through a Website, and the delivery is outsourced. Not talking to an actual human being is disconcerting. Rationally, I understand the superiority of the new way of doing things. The order and its specifications are printed out for the restaurant, not dependent on the vagaries of a cashier’s command on English. The order is paid for up front, and without cash. Best of all from the business point of view, the restaurant does not have to employ a delivery staff. But the “technology” is still in its early days. Even when the restaurant’s Web site is easy to navigate, it still bristles with questions and boxes that must be filled out even though God knows why. (For some reason, Google autofill leaves it up to the user to supply the name of his or her state.) And then the sites are “upgraded,” altered in a way that imposes a new learning curve. 

Despite all of this, I was so desperate for a change last night, and so determined to stay off my feet, that I ordered a pizza from a place called Vinnie’s, around the corner apparently. The transaction was smoother than I expected it to be, and the pizza arrived in about forty-five minutes. It was okay, perhaps a little better than okay. It was in any case a very welcome change from our few other options. We ate the pizza in the bedroom, from a tray table that I set up so that I could keep my right leg on the hassock, while Kathleen sat in the chair that is normally occupied by the three medium tote bags that constitute my virtual backpack. (I’m afraid that vintage snobbery prevents me, as a grown man, from wearing backpacks.) It was when we were done that we proceeded to the dining table, which is where Kathleen administers the infusions of Ceftriaxone. Then we watched an Inspector Morse (“The Last Enemy”), and so to bed.

I’m reading The End of the Affair, as I said I might, and finding it rather more harrowing than I remembered. More than other Greene novels that I can think of, though, it chimes concordantly with Shirley Hazzard’s recollections of Greene’s all but crippling inability to handle the agonies and ecstasies afforded by desirable women. In her portrait, he comes across as part displaced patriarch and part arrested adolescent. Ditto the narrator of the novel I’m reading, who seems to thrive on hating everybody. But I’m bearing with. 

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