Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Unreasonable fears of theft

I'll drop almost anything into the communal mail bin at work, a wire mesh basket that sits behind the receptionist's desk.

Birthday card? Sure. Thank you note? Why not? Important payment that could have serious implications on my credit rating if it isn't received? I'll drop that there too.

But movies I need to return through the mail to Blockbuster?

Hell no.

In my mind, there's too great of a chance that someone will see this as their opportunity to add to their DVD collection. Really, it's the perfect crime. You snatch that movie, and no one will know what's happened to it. Blockbuster will think the customer never sent it. The customer will think Blockbuster never received it. No one will know that you were responsible, and now you're sitting at home watching Meet the Fockers, laughing it up over your popcorn.

I try to do whatever I can to avoid this.

Which is kind of funny, because I've written in the past about how Blockbuster will give you the benefit of the doubt on almost any shipping snafu you can imagine. Once it leaves their warehouse, an infinite number of things could happen to it, any of which are as plausible as you receiving it and just deciding not to return it. They have a good enough customer service department to want to keep your business, and will take you at your word.

Yet I do cling to this fear of someone snatching my movie from the communal spot where it waits for the postman's afternoon rounds. I thought of it again yesterday, when I entrusted the communal bin with an important document I had to send to the DMV reporting a recent car accident, without which I could get my license revoked and be hung by my testicles on the courthouse steps. (Though, I should say, I was not at fault in the accident). But I left my movie on the passenger seat of the car, intending to drop it in one of those blue curbside bad boys later on in the day. I actually didn't remember to do it until today.

I think the reason I worry is that it's one of the few things a person mails that leaves no doubt as to what it is. It doesn't say the actual title of the movie on the outside of the return envelope -- or, I should say, it does, but the title gets covered by the flap you use to seal it. However, that provides only small comfort, because if someone has the mind to steal a movie, they aren't going to be too worried whether it's something they like or not. Do thieves who break into unlocked cars want assurances that there's something good in the glove compartment? Actually, not knowing what movie could make it a really fun surprise, kind of like opening presents at a yankee swap -- like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

Then again, this thief couldn't be in it for financial gain. Since the DVD arrives in a special sleeve designed by Blockbuster (or Netflix -- all this applies to Netflix envelopes as well), it doesn't have much resale value. You need a case if you really want to move this product on the street.

So I'm essentially fearing the kleptomaniac movie lover in my office who is going to risk snatching the envelopes I dropped in the bin behind the receptionist without anyone seeing him/her.

This fear was somewhat rational in my old apartment building that I moved out of in 2006. My crazy drunken building manager would leave her Netflix DVDs on top of the row of mailboxes for the mailman to pick up, unmindful of the fact that anyone else could walk off with them. And quite easily -- the mailboxes were out of view of most of the apartments.

But is this fear rational now? Not so much.

Oh well. Some fears can't be reasoned with.

And hey, at least now I've memorized the locations of all the mailboxes near my office.

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