Saturday, February 12, 2011

International package delivery

My cousin sent us a little Christmas present, which her daughter brought to the U.S. Post Office on 28 December. About a week after sending it, Nants sent us an e-mail telling us to watch for the incoming package. We waited a while, and then Alla asked the lady who delivers the mail if she knew anything about it. No, she said, but don’t worry. As soon as she gets it, she’ll put a note in our mailbox.

Weeks went by, but no package arrived. Finally when we’d just about given up hope, we got a notice in our mailbox that we should go down to Customs to clear an international package. OK. Let me backpedal a bit here. It seemed like WEEKS, but the truth is better expressed in lower-case. Our notice arrived on 28 January, exactly a month after Ila brought the package to the U.S. Post Office. When we finally got the package, we found a fantastic clutter of stickers and markings all over its face. It passed through JFK airport in New York and arrived in Minsk on 11 January, as annotated by hand. Eight days later, Belarusian Customs had entered it into their database, and eight more days after that they sent us the letter we received the next day.

I was all ready to go down to Customs, but Alla slowed me down enough to get the supervisor on the phone. The supervisor asked Alla if she were expecting a package from overseas. Yeah, Alla said, our relatives sent us a little New Year’s present. (That’s when everybody exchanges gifts here.) “OK,” the Customs lady continued, “but what is ‘The Vincents?’” Once Alla explained that this is our family name and not the name of a business, she offered to send the package straight to our house.

So, on the following business day we received our gift. It was a set of Navajo churro felted wool dryer balls. They feel really great in my hand and promise to work wonders on clothes in our dryer. It’s too bad that the only dryer we own is in Boston.

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