Somewhere deep in the Amazon (the rain forest, not the warehouse), a worker picked a delicious guarana berry, and put it in a basket.
He may have considered the ancient legends: a careless god slew a small child. To make apologies to the village, another god with a somewhat shaky grasp of public relations plucked out the child's eyes and planted them. The eyes grew into plants with delicious berries.
The guarana now serves as the basis for delicious soft drinks, because who wouldn't want to quaff some mythical eye juice? The main Brazilian guarana soft drink is called Antarctica, and it dates back to 1921. The exact recipe is known only to two people, as carefully guarded as the secret to Coca-Cola.
The berry has twice the caffeine of coffee beans, and that comes in handy when you need to chase down the person who stole 36 cans of Antarctica from your porch.
Hold those berries, as they say in the Amazon, we'll return to the matter in a moment.
I read an article somewhere on the internet about how people are installing video doorbells to catch porch pirates, who steal packages. Said doorbells are turning people into paranoid vigilantes who are needlessly suspicious, and ascribing nefarious motives to innocent activities. According to the article, we've become distrustful of strangers who wander around our front door, and that's bad.
I have one of those doorbells, complete with the app that notifies me when there's motion at my door. It offers me a fish-eye view of the mail carrier and visual confirmation that the 935th mailer for a cruise ship ad has arrived.
It also regularly sends me CRIME ALERTS, and reveals a demimonde of casual low-level criminality in my neighborhood. Videos of people skulking through backyards at 4:32 a.m., testing shed doors. Parasitic miscreants rifling through cars at 1:47 a.m. And, of course, an abundance of porch pirates, those lousy low-level crooks who see a box on your porch and think "Oh, that's for me."
They're not like Jean Valjean staggering through the blinding rain, hoping that box has some bread to feed a small child. They're just amoral opportunists.
What's astonishing is how many cameras capture these jerks, and how the crooks look right at the lens with insouciant disdain. Even if you programmed the doorbell to say "Target acquired. Loading harpoon," they'd still take your stuff.
So far, I haven't been hit. But that brings us back to our Amazon berry.
Daughter has been in Brazil for a year, but will be returning in 38 days. To ease the transition back to the United States, I am laying in some Brazilian staples (in case she has to attach a sheet of paper to another sheet of paper) and also some Brazilian foods and drinks. I know she likes guarana from the Amazon.
I ordered 36 cans from Amazon. It was the first time I'd ever ordered something from the Amazon from Amazon. It took three days to arrive. Three.
I know, I know, you'd think you could hit a button and a small drone would appear outside your window and shoot the juice in your mouth with a small hose, but no.
After an excruciating 72-hour wait, I got a notification that said the guarana would arrive today.
At work I also got a notification from the doorbell app: There is motion.
A minute later, another notification: There is motion.
It struck me that there would only be motion after the motion if a porch thief had struck.
It took three taps to get the camera to activate, and when I switched it on, there was no one. I called up the home cameras, turned up the volume, and heard Birch the dog barking in full mailman-peril mode.
I'd been hit.
The long journey of that precious berry juice from the depths of the rain forest to my Minnesota porch had apparently ended with someone stealing the box, and then cursing me later because it wasn't something pawnable.
Sure enough, when I got home: nothing on the porch.
I fantasized a conversation to shame the thief. "Did you know that soda was intended to assist my child in her cultural transition? No, that never entered your mind, did it?"
I decided that my video doorbell was a useful tool, anything to help porch pirates be caught — until I found the box of guarana soda tucked behind the trash cans.
It hadn't been stolen at all.
Now I have to install another camera, trained on the trash cans to guard that package drop-off spot. That will ensure I'll get notifications at 3 a.m. when a raccoon makes a raid.
At least I have the soda to surprise Daughter when she returns from Brazil. To be honest, I've been a bit worried about her this last year.
I hear the crime down there is awful.