he courier concept is nothing new, but what Maggie discovered one dismal February afternoon in New York shook her world. Exhausted after another long day and unable to shake the shivers, the mere thought of a grocery trip felt inconceivable.
So she scrolled through her text messages for an access code and opened an account with List-Mates, a personal errands service managed through a few taps of a mobile phone.
It was a moment as revelatory as when she first used her first wireless printer. Her previous life — broken shopping bags, awkward subway rides with bulky parcels, and expensive cab rides — flashed before her eyes.
After submitting her request for salad ingredients, mineral water and dried apricots she settled onto the sofa with a glass of red wine.
No sooner had her eyes settled shut than a ping came from her phone.
A message appeared: “Angel has accepted your request. Pick-up will commence in 17 minutes.” The message came with a photo of her errand boy (man?) and a GPS tracker showing her exactly where he was at any given time.
From the looks of it Angel was Latino, with big round eyes and a light scruff. Clean but not too clean. She wondered what he was doing working as a courier. Perhaps he was a recent arrival and didn’t yet speak much English. Or maybe he was an actor who’d tired of the restaurant drag. Whatever the case, she was grateful to him for saving her a trip in the sub-freezing temperatures.
She took another long gulp of wine and slipped out of her jeans and into some boy-cut shorts and an over-sized cardigan. She stretched out on the sofa and marveled at this newfound convenience.
Her phone pinged again.
Angel was beginning the pick-up.
She sighed deeply, imagining the crowds of Park Slope parents picking through piles of organic Lacinato Kale and parsing out carrots while yacking on their phones and pushing strollers. She shut her eyes never intending to sleep.
The sound of the doorbell jolted her awake. Her phone was lit up with messages and attempted phone calls. She pulled the cardigan tight across her hips and raced downstairs.
“Sorry! So sorry!” She apologized while fumbling with the door. Who knew how long he’d been out there in the frozen air?
She flung open the door finally. He stood with a half smile and two stuffed grocery bags. She reached for one of them but soon realized her cardigan would come undone. She had very little underneath.
“Want me to bring them upstairs?” Angel asked, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. In fact, it was. He was performing a service, and dropping the heavy bags directly into her kitchen was simply the consummation of convenience.
“After you,” he gestured with a shoulder for her to lead the way upstairs. As she climbed she realized the backs of her thighs were completely bare. With every step, her sweater rose a bit. She could sense his eyes on her, but shrugged it off as a. inevitable, as he was walking behind her, and b., unprofessional. Surely he considered her nothing more than any old customer. He probably hated her for sending him on an errand on such a cold night.
She refocused her thoughts on where to find some spare cash to tip him once they reached the kitchen.
He shadowed her as she made her way across the floor to a long counter-top at the far end of the kitchen.
She patted the smooth marble. “Here’s good.”
Angel moved toward her and released the bags with a light thud. Fennel tops protruded from one of them, the long cylinder of an olive oil bottle from the other.
Her stomach rumbled.
Angel dug in his pocket for his mobile phone. She would have to confirm the delivery. Maggie dug in a top drawer for a five-dollar bill she remembered to have stowed there.
He held out the phone for her to sign with a fingertip. Once she had, she extended the crumpled bill.
Angel shook his head. “I’m sorry ma’am. I cannot accept cash tips.”
Maggie sighed. ‘What can you accept?” She asked, immediately ashamed to hear her own words.
She’d meant, electronically of course. Or had she?
Angel moved toward her. She felt her lower back arch along the edge of the counter. She didn’t move.
He placed one hand beside her. It was hot despite the fact that he had just biked four miles in the dead of winter. He slid a finger inside the waistline of her shorts.
“I’m sure you’ll find a way.” He winked.