Samuel drives a courier van. Every day he goes to the courier depot and picks up all the boxes to be delivered to houses in the area. He checks all the addresses and plans his route.
Most of the boxes are deliveries for online shopping. People buy many different things online – clothes, books, furniture, toys, wine and food.
Samuel likes his job. He likes driving his van and he thinks it is interesting to go to so many different houses. He often goes to the same houses, so he becomes friendly with the people who live there.
The week before Christmas is always very busy. Samuel starts work and 7:00am and sometimes doesn’t finish until 7:30pm. The 21st of December is a normal day. Samuel goes to the depot. The boxes for his area are waiting for him. There are different instructions for different boxes. Samuel must get someone at the house to sign for most boxes but there are a few small ones where the instructions say ‘leave in letter box’. Finally there are some that say ‘leave on the porch’, ‘leave outside the front door’, or ‘leave behind the house’. Samuel knows that usually these are boxes for people who work. They are not home to sign for their delivery.
There are five boxes for the same house. They have a label, ‘Leave on the front porch’. The address is a new one. Samuel has never delivered to this house before.
Mmm, thinks Samuel. Violet Danford, 547 Westerfield Road. I often go to Westerfield Road. It is a long street. But where is house number 547? He has trouble finding the house. It is at the end of the road. The driveway is very narrow and there are many trees. He drives his van down the driveway and sees a little old house. He jumps out his van and opens the back door. He takes the boxes and walks towards the house. He leaves the boxes on the front porch, gets back into his van and drives away.
The next day is December 22nd. There are more boxes to deliver to 547 Westerfield Road. Someone has been doing a lot of shopping, thinks Samuel. The boxes have the same label, ‘Leave on the front porch’. When Samuel carries his deliveries up to the front of the little old house he is very surprised. Yesterday’s boxes are still there. That’s very strange, he thinks. But it is a very busy day and he has many deliveries to make. He jumps back in his van and drives away.
All day, Samuel thinks about 547 Westerfield Road. He thinks maybe something is wrong. When he had finished his work, he is very tired and hungry. He wants to go home. There is a big football match on the TV tonight, but he can’t. I don’t know why, but I am sure something is wrong. I have to go back to that house.
When Samuel gets to the house he goes up to the porch. All the boxes from today and yesterday are still there. He knocks on the door and waits. No one comes to the door. I’m crazy. The people who live here are probably away. Why do I feel worried?
He knocks again. There is no answer. He puts his head against the door and listens. He can hear a TV playing. It is very loud! He can hear a cat meowing. Then he hears a very soft voice, “Help. Help me!”
What shall I do? I can call the police but maybe they will take a long time to come here.
He tries the door handle. The door is not locked. He opens the door and shouts, “Hello! Are you OK?”
Again he hears the voice. “I’m in the bathroom. Help me!”
Samuel runs through the house looking for the bathroom. He finds it. The door is open. An old lady is lying on the floor. She looks very ill.
“Thank you!” she says. “I came to have a bath and I fell over. I have been here for two days. I can’t get up.”
Samuel pulls out his smart phone. He calls the ambulance. “Come to 547 Westerfield Road,” he says. “There is a very old lady here. She had a fall. She has been on the floor for two days. She is very ill.”
Samuel thinks it takes a long time for the ambulance to come. He goes to the kitchen and brings back some water. He tries to give it to the old lady. It is very difficult. She is very weak and Samuel is too frightened to lift her. Finally she drinks a little. She closes her eyes. Samuel is very worried.
Then Samuel hears the siren. The ambulance is coming!
Samuel goes into the living room and turns the TV off.
The paramedics come in. They are professionals. They know what to do. Very soon, they put the old lady on a stretcher and carry her out. Samuel stands and watches.
“My cat!” she says suddenly. “Who will look after my cat?”
“I will look after your cat,” says Samuel.
“Oh, thank you. My son will come from Australia on the 24th. He can look after the cat then.”
The ambulance men go away. Samuel takes the boxes from the porch and puts them in the living room. He finds some cat food and gives it to the cat. The cat is very hungry. He leaves more food and some water for the cat. He finds some keys and goes out. He locks the door and drives home. It is 9:00 pm and he is very, very tired.
For the next two days, Samuel goes to 547 Westerfield Road before he starts work and when he finishes work. On the morning of the 24th he feeds the cat, locks the house and leaves the house keys in the letterbox.
I hope the old lady is OK, he thinks. I hope her son comes today.
Samuel only has three days vacation for Christmas. When he goes back to work, the boss comes out of his office.
“You have a visitor,” he says. “Come into my office.” Samuel follows his boss into the office. There is a man waiting there. The man jumps up. “I am Oscar Danford,” he says. “Thank you for saving my mother’s life!”
Samuel says. “Oh. I didn’t do anything. I just called the ambulance.”
Oscar shakes his head. “No. You did more than that! If you hadn’t gone into the house, my mother would have died. But I have a question. Why did you go into the house?”
Samuel explains about the boxes. “I thought it was strange. I don’t know why I was worried, but I was. That’s why I went back after work. I listened at the door and I heard your mother crying out. But I have a question too.”
“What is your question?” asks Oscar.
“People often ask me to leave their boxes somewhere. But that is because they are out at work when I come. I guess your mother is usually at home. Why does she ask for her online shopping to be left on the porch? “
Oscar laughs. My mother loves TV. That is why she shops online. She likes watching TV more than shopping! She has the sound up very loud. Often she doesn’t hear when people knock. And even when she does hear someone knocking, she doesn’t want to miss any of her favourite programmes!”
Samuel laughs too. “Now I understand.”
“And thank you for looking after the cat.” Oscar puts his hand in his pocket. He gives Samuel and envelope. “Please take this. It is a small thank you from my mother and me.”
“On, no!” says Samuel. His face is red. “I don’t want anything!”
“Please take it,” says Oscar. Samuel doesn’t know what to do. He looks at his boss.
“I think you should take it,” says the boss. “You are my best courier driver, and you are a man who cares about people. It’s Christmas and Oscar is giving you an extra present.”
Oscar looks at his watch. “I must go back to the hospital. My mother is getting better and now she wants me to arrange a television in her hospital room!”
He hurries out. The boss is smiling at Samuel.
“You did a good thing,” he says. “Do you know who that was?”
“Uh. Oscar Danford,” says Samuel.
“Yes! And he has a big mail order company in Australia. He thinks our courier service must be good, so he is going to use us for all the companies deliveries! I want to do something for you too. I am going to buy you a bigger van, so you can make more deliveries!”
Oh, no! thinks Samuel. But he is not very unhappy. He has opened the envelope. Inside is a cheque for $3,000!
I can buy a big flatscreen TV to watch football on!