Red Carpet

Most items were now set for the showing. The screen and scaffold, projector and speakers, VIP and ordinary chairs, and ropes and poles, were all in place. The red carpet however had not arrived.

The CORE – Customer Order Response Expedition – system was stupid, thought Sami. Sending items on individual trucks was a terrible idea, but what could he do? He wasn’t in charge of logistics. He was in charge of set up, and the global launch of the film HUMANITY was good to go, minus only one red carpet.

An hour before the show he called the delivery company again. The despatcher said he would ask the driver to call Sami right away.

The driver called him. “I delivered it an hour ago,” she said. “It’s at the mayor’s office. I was told that’s where to deliver it.”

The mayor’s office was one kilometre from The Place, the communal space at the heart of the village and location for tonight’s screening. Sami said, “Who told you that?”

“Well, I was sent round and round by detours. There were cops everywhere who wouldn’t let me stop. So I called another driver who said that was the usual place, so I dropped it off there.”

“That’s not the right place! Can you please retrieve the carpet and bring it here to The Place? I will direct you to the delivery entrance.”

“Sorry, I’m fifty kilometres away now, heading back to the city.”

Damn! thought Sami. He needed that red carpet for VIPs. He had better go and get it himself. The projectionist had set up early and was now relaxing, sipping a beer. Sami said, “Excuse me, can you please help me with something?”

He didn’t indicate a readiness to move.

“It’s important.”

The projectionist stood up and said, “Sure.”

With all the road closures and diversions, it would be quicker to walk. They reached the mayor’s office in ten minutes. The security guard said, “I was wondering why they brought that here. I thought it was for one of the mayor’s special parties.” He tapped his nose as he said this.

Sami and the projectionist threw opposite ends of the roll over their shoulders. It smelled quite clean, but there was a hint of beer – or was it champagne? – and fish – or was it oysters? They carried the rolled carpet through the village, looking like a pair of toy plumbers. Sami thought, it’s a shame it’s not a magic carpet. We could have ridden it through the valley, over forests, lakes, and rivers, across icecaps…

At The Place, Sami paced out the distance from the street to the VIP area. They rolled out the carpet, cut it at one end, and taped it in place.

Sami noticed specks on the carpet. Upon closer inspection, he saw they were a mixture of dirt, gravel, powder and leaf bits. He found a hoover and cleaned them up. The red carpet looked really good now, like a ribbon across a present. He took installation photos.

As he did that a family of five walked across the far part of the carpet, adjoining the street, before the VIP ropes and poles. Sami recognized them; he had seen them picking through dumpsters behind The Place’s restaurants. They posed and took pictures on their phones. They dreamed of being asked to grace a red carpet, but who ever welcomed trailer park folk?

The security guard was about to move them on; they were leaving dirt and crumbs; but Sami told him to wait. Right now the red carpet was acting as a band-aid, not a ribbon. Let them enjoy their moment of glamour. He could hoover the carpet again.

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