The phenomenon of flight shame has now become quite common: people who are no longer too proud to take another flight somewhere for fun. Certainly if it concerns a short distance. It all feels a bit charged. Where, say, four or five years ago, #wanderlust was still cool, environmentally conscious travel and traveling not too often are a ’thing’ now. But the movement expands.
Recently I was on the train where two ladies were talking about online shopping. Normally I like to read a book on the train (if I’m lucky enough to find a free seat) but this time I couldn’t keep my mind on the content. This conversation was too fascinating. Lady 1 told the other how she regularly ordered something for herself and the children and always had this delivered to a store nearby so that she could pick it up ‘unnoticed’. Lady 2 found this strange: “The handy thing about online shopping is that you no longer have to leave your house to get your things, right? Now you still have to go out to pick up the package?”
Always the same neighbors
“Yes,” said Lady 1, “true, but that way I don’t have to ring my neighbors’ doorbell and also my boyfriend doesn’t notice it.” At that moment I put my book away and grabbed the proverbial popcorn. This could be fun. “Well, look, I am rarely home when the package is delivered. Now, I know that our parcel delivery guy first tries at quite a few neighboring houses before he brings it to a collection point. So there is a good chance that I will have to ring the bell of one of my neighbors. And usually the same people are at home at those times, so I often have to pick up the package from the same neighbors. I feel uncomfortable when I ring the doorbell for the third or fourth time that month. As if they keep track, ‘o-m-g it’s her again’.” Lady 2: “Ah come on, that’s really in your head. The neighbors are not that concerned with you. They will probably accept the packages for many more neighbors.” Lady 1: “Yes, even worse!” Lady 2: “If they didn’t want to, they wouldn’t accept it, would they?” Lady 1: “Yes, but that’s also just politeness: if you have already opened the door for the postman and the package turns out not to be for you, you won’t tell him that you don’t accept it for your neighbors, right?” Lady 2: “Yes indeed. Difficult, never thought about it really. But you then opt for the collection point?” “Yes. And I alternate between collection points as well if I’m honest. But it depends on what I ordered. I feel less ashamed of a neutral box or one with bol.com on it than a bright one from H&M or Zalando. And then my boyfriend starts an argument again about how much it has cost and whether my closet isn’t already full enough.” Lady 2: “Haha, mine doesn’t say much about it, but he shops more than I do.”
This conversation went on for a while but I found the shame component very interesting. I also occasionally order something online; some months more than others. It often concerns things of which I can’t find sufficient supply in the city. And if I can to choose between a collection point or my own address, I often also choose a collection point. More because I am sure that I can pick it up at any time during their opening hours. My neighbors are not always at home, so that doesn’t combine well when I need to pick it up. But to be honest: if I had to pick up packages a few times a month, or worse, a week, at the same neighbors, I would be somewhat ashamed as well, I think. I recently received a flyer in my mailbox: a letter and parcel machine will be installed in your neighborhood. Handy, that thing is operational 24 hours a day! I Immediately had to think back to the two ladies on the train: no more shame of buying, you can now go wild anonymously 24 hours a day, lady 1. Too bad about there is a camera in the machine. But as long as our post company is not going to parcel-shame you, it won’t be too much of an issue.