Sharp Monica

An honest voice in Italian paradise.

Update from Italy: Pandemic Pillows

Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash

Stupidi cuscini, I told my friend. Dumb cushions. I never should have ordered them.

Before the New Year, when we were all home on the holiday break and doing a whole lot of nothing thanks to the Omicron surge, Eleanor decided she needed to rearrange her room. She had outgrown her toys. All of them. Dollhouse, BarbieTM camper, BarbieTM airplane, BarbieTM Fiat, via! Everything must go! In an admirable liquidation of ludic assets, small, medium, and large dolls, gone! (All stuffed animals remain.) Make space for art! Move the bed to the other side of the room. Most toys were bagged and readied for giveaway or secondhand sale. And, most importantly, a great number of pillows simply had to be acquired to make the second-grade harem for one as comfortable as possible.

An in-person trip to a big-box store was out of the question. So I checked on Amazon, where the pillows were all weird (think giant images of cats and goats), expensive, and not available to be shipped with Amazon Prime.

Hmm, what about IKEA, I mused.

We are NOT going there, Jason quickly shot back.

I looked around on the IKEA website. But the pillows are good and cheap, I said. I’ve never before ordered anything on IKEA to be delivered. It’s expensive with unhelpful delivery windows. Kind of like the cable guy of yore (e.g., sometime between 10 and 8). I suddenly spied a delivery option I had not seen before. O miracle! They will deliver them to a post office very close by! I yelled from my desk.

Great, Jason said. That’s really close. Better than going to the store.

No one thought it was a good idea to go to IKEA. Eleanor really wanted to pick out pillows. So we scrolled and selected, scrolled and selected on my laptop. Some items were not available for delivery. Certain pillows could inexplicably be picked up only in the store. Some items were just pillow covers, so we ordered a few inserts too. We picked out some pillows for Victor, so he wouldn’t feel left out, and a couple for me, because I am the mamma. I went to pay. Suddenly it seemed like a lot of money for a sack of pillows. I really need pillows, Eleanor affirmed. I paid on the site with my credit card and got confirmation that the pillows would be delivered to the local post office for our pickup in about 10 days. January 11, with New Year’s and Epiphany in the interim.

When are the pillows coming, when are the pillows coming? Eleanor asked repeatedly . Victor joined in a chant. Pill-OWS. Pill-OWS. Calm down, guys, I said. It’s going to take a few days.

I checked the status from time to time. My credit card was charged. On January 5 the pillows were marked in transit. In transit toward us, I naively assumed. Then radio silence from the pillows for three weeks. No updates. Where are the pillows? I mused in the direction of Jason. Nobody is working, he said. Everyone has Covid or is in quarantine or caring for someone who has Covid.

The pillows popped back up on the radar on January 20. The updates were erratically posted. The pillows seemed to have traveled to a few other places: Sesto Fiorentino, Bologna. They have now been shipped, touched, and recorded eleven times. To travel less than ten miles from IKEA to our post office. I’ve had international airmail packages delivered with way fewer shipment touches and comments. I was very confused about the pillow’s movement and direction. Were the pillows indeed coming to us? Or had I terribly misunderstood, and the pillows had been at the post office, a giant sack of premium stuffing awaiting our pickup, and we missed the pickup window somehow? This would be terrible.

I called in my local expert. What does it mean, I asked, when the status page says that my pillows are in transito? They are in transit?

No, she said, it means they are being made into a package in the office.

The pillows are travelling around the office? I was howling. The warehouse? They are travelling in the warehouse?

Yes, she confirmed.

I hmphed. Why don’t they say, stiamo mettendo tutti i cuscini in una scatolonawe are putting all your pillows in a big box? Pillows in transit sounds an awful lot like they are already shipped. My friend thought this idea was funny.

L’ordine è stato spedito. The order has been shipped. Okay, I understand that. Next line. L’ordine è in consegna. The order is in delivery. Or has the order already been delivered? This seemed very linguistically fuzzy to me. This was where I got more panicky. Was the order already delivered, and now it is being shipped back to IKEA because I never picked it up?

No, no, my Italian friend said, it is about to be delivered.

Interesting, I thought. Isn’t there another verb for that? Sta per essere consegnato?

Yes, maybe, but it’s vernacular.

Okay, great, I think, business Italian, got it, saying to myself the update that IKEA dared not post: tutti i romani hanno Covid e purtroppo non potevano lavorare fino ad oggi. All Romans have Covid and were unable to work before today. (A month after purchase.) Maybe add, as a public service announcement, non preoccuparti i cuscini non possono portarti il Covid. Don’t worry, cushions cannot transmit Covid.

The best update, which predominates, says L’ordine è in viaggio, with a cute truck icon. Your order is travelling. Does it mean my order is travelling to me or away from me? Who knows?

You should call them, she said, just to make sure. But I didn’t call them. I didn’t think it would help much, given what their interface says online. I don’t really need someone to spend thirty minutes on a call with me in Italian, reading website updates to me that I already know as I read them silently to myself on the screen again. Also, I truly dread phone calls in Italian.

Now they are quantum pillows. L’ordine è in viaggio. Where to? Who knows? Directionality cannot be known. Only the fact that they are travelling, somewhere in north-central Italy, in a way that I can only dream of. O quantum pillows, what trucks, what sunny warehouses, you have seen!

L’ordine è in viaggio.

I imagine the site with further updates, à la L.A. Story (1991), with me in the Steve Martin role. The site will start answering my unasked questions in business Italian.

January 29, and no sign of the pillows we ordered over a month ago.

Quando avrai il Covid avrai dei bei cuscini da usare per la tua quarantena. When you have Covid, you will have some lovely cushions for your quarantine.

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