I Postmated a Pet

It’s true. I’m not ashamed. I had a live animal delivered to my house that I bought through an app.

    OK, I’ll start from the beginning to give you the full scope of the dire situation that led to this amazing epiphany. It all began in the summer of 2015. My older son, Ryder, was invited to his friend’s birthday party at the Santa Monica Aquarium, an adorable tiny spot, perfect for preschoolers. My husband was out of town at the time, so I decided to be brave and venture with my then 3-year-old and 1-year-old. I miscalculated where the aquarium was and parked 20 minutes down the boardwalk from it, but it was OK—I had the single umbrella stroller, wore the little guy in front in a carrier, the backpack on my back and pushed the big kid the 20-minute walk to the party.
    The party was fabulous. I mean, who doesn’t like petting starfish and feeding tiny sharks? As we were leaving I spotted rows of little fishbowls and bags of colorful fish lining the counter that we had to pass to exit. What?!
    I tried to divert my boys’ attention. I tried to block their view. But nope, Ryder saw the fish and his eyes immediately lit up. “Mommy, we get a fish?!!!”
    Yes, Ryder, you get to take home a fucking fish.
    He took 10 minutes debating between a red one and blue one while his brother, Asher, was tethered to my chest screaming. I was sweating and knew we had a 20-minute walk back to my car because I totally messed that one up and I just wanted him to pick a damn fish.
    “The red one, Mommy” he exclaimed. “Because red’s my favorite color.”
    Once he picked the fish I tried to figure out how to awkwardly push Ryder in the stroller, wear Asher and a backpack and balance the new plastic fish bowl, fish food, water-purifying thing and the actual fish in a little baggie. After quite a bit of deliberation where I went through each possible scenario, I figured the best way to keep this fish alive for the long trek back to my car was to put him and all his gear at the bottom of the stroller. The umbrella stroller.
    We stumbled our way back, the whole way I was saying silent prayers for this fish to not die so that this wouldn’t be the afternoon I would be explaining the concept of death to my 3-year-old.
    We made it back to the car, all of us intact—well, mama extremely sweaty and a few aching muscles, but the fish was alive!
    My son named our fish Bashie, after his brother, Ashie. And this fish flourished. He survived forgotten feedings, travel, being transported to our kind neighbor’s house—he became a staple in our house. My boys adored him and made it their daily task to feed him a few pieces of his food (or handfuls of it), and he became a part of our family.
    Cut to that disastrous day. Almost two years later, we had a friend of my son’s over and in a series of unfortunate events, the fish was overfed, and then someone forgot to put the correct equalizer in his water, and…he died.
    My son was traumatized. He asked me so many questions as he stared at Bashie’s lifeless floating body. We talked and I explained what I could. We then ceremoniously flushed our beloved fish down the toilet to “be with his friends in the great wide ocean.” Ryder bought it, and I didn’t feel this little white lie would scar him too badly—I mean, I believed in the toilet flush, ocean thing for years. Suspension of disbelief.
    I did, however, want to make this all better quickly. I made a promise. And I never break a promise, especially not to my kids. I promised we would go the next day and pick out a new fish, any color he wanted, and bring our new friend into our home. Ryder was elated! He told me the plan over and over again, which pet store we’d go to (the one down the street from us), what color fish (blue with a little bit of purple) and what he’d name him (possibly Bashie 2).
    The next day I picked up Ryder from school and it was just before rush hour, but I had this all planned down to a science. The aquarium shop was down the street from our house, against traffic, and we had plenty of time to get the fish and get home for dinner, bath and bedtime.
    As I pulled up to the pet store, I felt proud. I was doing this! My kiddo’s broken heart over the death of his first pet would be mended. I pulled into my parking spot and pulled Ryder out of his car seat and we held hands as we marched up to the entrance. The store was closed. Like literally empty. Seriously?! How did I miss this?! I drive by it every single day. Yup, closed, shut down, no fish. Ryder immediately fell apart, tears streaming down his little face.
    I panicked for a split second and then went into producer mode. I do this for a living—I solve problems on set. Hard drive full and need one ASAP, I know how to fix that; ordered the wrong vegan, gluten-free lunch for the talent, I can solve that. I racked my brain, trying to think how I could do this.
    I Google Mapped the closest pet stores. All were 20 minutes away with no traffic and would take close to two hours to get there and back at this hour. Nope. I then stared at my phone, a brilliant idea forming. I use an app called Postmates to solve many a problem on set. They have delivered many a meal, equipment we needed, makeup we didn’t have, coffees galore. Why couldn’t they deliver a fish?
    I’d never had a living being delivered before, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a possibility.
    First thing I did was call the closest Petco and ask if they had a blue betta fish with a bit of purple. I told them to hold it for Sam and that “someone” would be coming to pick it up.
    I then got down to Ryder’s level, wiped away his tears and said, “Hey, bud, how would you like to have your fish arrive at our house in 40 minutes or less? Blue with a bit of purple?”
    He looked at me like I was crazed for a moment and then stopped crying and said, “Yeah, that'd be pretty cool.”
    And that was it. I went on the Postmates app and put in my “custom” order. The instructions I typed out were simple: “Pick up order under the name Sam.” Ha, I wish I had a hidden camera to see the look on the courier’s face when they got that order.
    Forty minutes later, the newest member of our household arrived at our door, safe and sound. His transport was less eventful than Bashie’s and probably a lot safer, and he was smaller and the perfect shade of blueish purple.
    Ryder named him Fruitie, because…well…I will probably never know.
Fruitie now swims happily in Bashie’s old habitat, a little harder to see as he blends in with the blue rocks and trees. I made Ryder’s day that afternoon and learned that no problem is too great when you think out of the box and know how to work those apps.
    I had a live animal delivered to my house through an app. And I’m totally OK with that.

Samantha Gutstadt