Thursday, September 20, 2007

Department of mysteries

I would like to politely request that anyone about to read this post please leave a comment with their theories. Thank you very much.

This afternoon, I went downstairs to check the mail. When I opened the door at the bottom of the stairs, the door hit a box. I looked behind the door at the box and saw that my first name, spelled wrong, was written on all sides of the box in blue magic marker. The box was a rear-facing infant car seat box, containing, the label promised, one Evenflo 5 carseat, in a pattern of little bears.

I brought the box up, it having my name all over it and all, and left it in my living room and went back to work. My first thought was that a friend, possibly the divorced mother of two small kids across the street, was passing along a used car seat. The box had been opened and retaped, so I assumed it was used. You can't use a used carseat if you don't know where it's from, since it might have been in an accident, so I called the friend and left her a message asking if she knew anything about it. Then I emailed a friend saying what had just happened. "Are you sure it's a carseat?" she asked. Hmm. Good point. The box had been opened, after all--maybe somebody returning a borrowed object before Yom Kippur?

I opened the box and found a brand-new car seat, in gender-neutral colors, with the tags still on--and 13 cans of Nestle Good Start Supreme milk-based baby formula, stuck in the empty spaces around the box. No card. No note. No identifying information at all. A tracking label on the side indicates that it passed through a Wal-Mart shipping center, so it was bought at either Wal-Mart or Sam's Club--neither of which is very close to us.


All the reasons why this is weird:

1. Anonymous gift. Okay, not that weird--it could happen.

2. Baby gift four months before the baby is due. Very un-Jewish thing to do, and almost all my friends in town are either Jewish or work friends who, presumably, know how to spell my name.

3. Anyone who knows us would probably know that a) we don't have a car, b) we have two kids, so probably already have a carseat or two, and c) I nurse my babies. Anyone who knew us but not well would probably have written our last name on the box--or gotten my first name out of the community directory, in which case they'd have spelled it correctly.

4. Anyone who knows us knows that I work at home, so am usually here in the mornings. Not the best time to sneakily leave a gift, although I suppose it could have been left last night without our knowing.

Possibilities: random ba'al chesed (charitable person) in the community. Probably not--like I said, very un-Jewish to give a baby gift pre-arrival of baby.

Random friend? Maybe. But who isn't Jewish and doesn't know how to spell my name? If it were someone from MHH's work, s/he would have written our last name, not my first name.

The contractor who is fixing up our house from all the water damage. The most likely possibility, as a) he is not Jewish, b) he seems to like us, since his mother is Hungarian and he heard me speaking Hungarian to Barak, and c) he commented on my being pregnant "again." He has only heard my name, not seen it written, and I don't think he knows our last name at all, since he was hired by the condo association. Plus, formula feeding is very standard in his part of the world--he is Romanian. He is a friendly guy, and I know he has a young daughter, because he mentioned it. But. That was a very expensive gift--a $50 carseat plus 13 cans of formula. Thirteen is an unlucky number in Romania, so why thirteen cans? Plus, we're Jewish and he's not, he's Romanian, etc., etc. He does not know us--I've talked to him only a few times. The handwriting on the box does not match the handwriting on the estimate he wrote us. The box was left out by the mailboxes, where anyone could have stolen it, and not in front of our door--a part of the building to which he has access. I know where he lives, and it is the opposite direction to Wal-Mart. And why on earth would he do that? Besides which, he has been in our basement, where we've got the carseats, which are in pretty good shape, our not having a car and all. And even if he's just randomly an extremely nice person, that's still... weird. He may be the only person I can think of, but I can't imagine it was actually him.

Family? No. Unknown friends? I'm pretty sure I don't have any. Secret admirers? I'm a little on the fat and pregnant side right now for that. Neighbors? No--either we don't know them, or they know our names. I mean, our name is on the mailbox!

I gave away the formula already--the cans were sealed so I saw no reason to be suspicious. The carseat will, IY"H, come in handy--it's often nice to have a spare.

But... huh???

Theories, wild or otherwise, are most welcome.


k. said...

Ooh, the contractor.... I hadn't thought of the contractor!

That may be. Maybe this is an extra carseat he and his wife were given, or maybe this is extra formula they had bought at Sam's Club and didn't need? It would explain the unfamiliarity with your name, your infant-feeding preferences, and Jewish culture in general, at least. And maybe he (or his wife) isn't versed in Romanian superstition enough to know that giving 13 of anything is a bad omen.

Butler, library, candlestick.

Anonymous said...
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miriamp said...

curiouser and curiouser! 13 = baker's dozen? But yes, I believe formula is very very expensive. (Haven't bought any myself in, oh, 8 or 9 years, and that was toddler formula for a 1 yr old who didn't drink milk and wasn't nursing anymore.)

I know, it was the formula company trying a new form of marketing!

But really, I truly have no idea. Do let us know if you figure it out. (And I get my name misspelled all the time... it drives me nuts! Which is part of why I go by Miriam. Easier to spell.)

Alisha said...

I'd be happy to leave a theory if I had one...but really, things like that drive me absolutely nuts from curiosity. Please do share if you get any clues!

Shana tova...

LeahChaya said...

I would like to politely request that anyone about to read this post please leave a comment with their theories. Thank you very much.
Unfortunately, I have no theories. I only know that it surely wasn't me - and I try to follow directions, hence the comment. :)

Rua said...


My theory is that this is somehow related to Rosh Hashonnah / Yom Kippur. They could see by your belly that you might actually use the items, but:
1) either don't know you well and felt uncomfortable offering it to you or bringing up your pregnancy
2) want to give anonymously for the extra merit before Yom Kippur
3) realize it's not so Jewish to give something for an unborn child, but felt the timing was perfect because of the holiday
4) Someone wanted to give this to you because it was an extra or unneeded gift and they wanted it out of the house
a) before the fast
b)because they wanted/needed the space in their house for guests
c) wanted/needed the symbolic space of a "clean slate"
5) Someone figured that as a mother, you would know who might have need it if you don't....

In other words, I don't think this is as strange as you do, although you may never find out specifically who/why you received these things, it might just as easily be revealed in casual conversation... "Oh I dropped some things off at your house, but I didn't ring the bell because I was in such a hurry getting ready..." Anyway, I think it's a good thing so why worry.

Enjoy. Shana Tova.

handknitter said...

How about this: It wasn't meant for you at all. It was left at the wrong building.

Or not.

shanna said...

It's a new viral marketing campaign.

(Hey, you said wild theories were acceptable...)

Deborah said...

I was going to say 'family', but then got to near the end of your post when you ruled that out. And they would know how to spell your name.

How about your Grandmother in Hungary?

whsamet said...

Okay, I'm so clueless that I completely missed the part where you are pregnant. How wonderful! As for the gift, I'm in the Rua camp. Or maybe it's a cab driver you use frequently (or as frequently as you use cabs) or some shop keeper you are nice to. This is a nice thing and mysteries go. Enjoy (or dust for fingerprints?)

jasmin said...

Having only just read your blog for the first time in a couple of weeks, I'm obediently responding to your request for theories, though colored by your comment in the next entry that you're sure it's not the contractor after all.

I can tell you with all sincerity it's not me, though. For all the reasons you mentioned (name, breastfeeding, no car, etc), you'd've known. Plus I would have put something more frivolous in there.

I'm also trying not to read everyone else's theories.

How about somebody through work? Who doesn't know you terribly well, maybe friend of a coworker, for some reason touched by your story of being trapped at home with small children and with another practically on the doorstep?

One of the people you shop from, who may have heard you addressed but not known the spelling? Especially if they're not a native English speaker? Again concerned about you having to drag multiple children around in strollers instead of stuffing them in a car? And not knowing you well enough to do other than assume formula feeding?

It seems like an act of kindness, though, somehow.