Thursday, 7 February 2013

Alexa, You Have a Baggage.

                                 A very typical scenario of everyday life.

I am soaked; the snow is thick and stinging my face; I am carrying a heavy, haggard package; I am 20 yuan poorer; and I have been made a fool of in more ways than one. I am in no mood!

Let's rewind.

At the very start of December, my father called to let me know he had just sent me a Christmas package and for me to let him know when I received it. I was totally psyched about it. I never receive mail, let alone a package! It gave me something to look forward to even though I was missing out on spending Christmas with my family.

My father called me less than two weeks after that.
"You get it yet?"

No big deal, I thought. I sent Brandon a necklace and a postcard in an envelope once and it took him over a month to receive it. When he finally did receive it, there was a small hole in it. Guess my necklace wasn't nice enough to steal, hmph! So it was no big deal that I hadn't received my fathers package yet.

He began to call on a weekly basis. I supposed he really wanted me to have it before Christmas, but that was not going to happen. A few days prior to Christmas, I contacted my office and inquired about this package because, according to UPS, the package reached China (not my office) on December 15th. My office hadn't received it just yet and they said they would check with the post office. I never heard back about the post office so I assumed it had not made it yet. China snail mail!

A week later, December 27, I received a call that I had mail come to the office. I thought for sure it was his package, but it wasn't. It was lovely, unexpected letter from my grandmom. They still hadn't received my package and would check with the post office. Once again, I heard nothing.

Another MONTH went by. No package. I could hear the worry in my father's voice. He thought something went wrong. Even I was getting worried, rechecking the address I gave him.

Today, February 7, I received a text message alert at 8:50a.m. It was a woman from my office:

"Are you in Nanjing? You have a baggage in the post office on Beijing Xi Lou. You need to take your passport to pick up as as soon as possible."

Finally! I was so excited. I text my dad right away to tell him, though I know he was fast asleep. A few hours later, I headed out to the post office. I had no idea it was snowing. The weather is so unpredictable, meteorologists cannot even get it right. Back inside I went to throw on my fluffy white hat, white scarf, leather gloves, and leg warmers. I hadn't even made it two blocks when a senseless, featherbrained biker skid aimlessly through a stretched, deep puddle of muddy-filthy-e coli water and sprayed me all the way up to my waist. This little shit. I was less than pleased, but continued my route.

Apparently when it snows, the world stops. I had to bulldoze my way through immobile people and traffic before finally making it to the post office. The good news was the spike of adrenaline that my wet and rowdy walk gave me. Suddenly I was warm. Those moments are hard to come by these days. Being warm, not wet and rowdy.

In I went and I could not speak a word of Chinese in the category of postage. Bring it and wing it. I walked through the heavy plastic flaps that kept the heat in. I was on the wrong side of the post office and I did not want to walk past the intimidating security men on my right so I walked out and back in through the other set of heavy plastic flaps and nodded to the same security men who were now at my left. They nodded, but they looked confused. I walked up to the line.

While waiting, I pulled up the word package on my translator and hoped they would understand (Mandarin translators are often no help). If not, back to miming. After standing in line a good ten minutes, I was next, and ready with my translator. Yay, package. A chair directly in front of me opened and some shameless woman quickly brushed pass me and sat in the chair. I looked behind me and saw no one. I'll be damned that I just waited ten minutes for my turn and this beast of a female nonchalantly bypasses my standing-committed-ass. Suddenly I had a flashback of Dane Cook's At the Wall/Cut the Line 2008 skit. SHE'S NOT STANDING IN A WAY THAT SAYS, "I AM A PART OF THIS COMMUNITY. I'M GOING ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU." SHE'S DOING THAT LITTLE FLOATY DANCE THAT PEOPLE DO WHEN.....she was not in line!

So there I was, just standing there. Only then I was outwardly unhappy. I scowled, aloud. I wanted the line cutter to hear me. Not only did she hear me and turn her head at me, but the woman in the chair next to her and the two post office employees working with them looked at me too. What could I say? I didn't know Chinese! Should I have tried to translate, "you're going to hell you line cutter?" Should I have pointed and stomped my feet like a five-year-old? No. Instead I pursed my lips and looked down. But in a very agitated way! Hmph! They knew exactly why. Nobody cares. Nobody cares about my package!

Exasperated by my own thoughts, I finally sat down and it was my turn. I revealed my translator and was immediately sent to another room. At least there was no line. I smiled to the welcoming woman before me and gave her my passport. It appeared she had trouble finding me in their computer system so I called my office to confirm I was at the correct post office. That I was. It turns out, my package had been there for nearly two months! My package was no longer with ordinary deliveries, it was packed away in some back room.On top of that, the woman from my office translated for me that I owed the post office a storage fee of 20 rmb due to  how long it had been there. Trying (very, very hard) to keep my cool, I questioned her about the office checking with the post office about my package. I went through everything with her and wanted answers. She had not one answer; I dealt with a different member of our office at the time. Lovely.

I just wanted to get out of there so I told her I would talk to ..... about it the following day. On a more positive note, I was pleased to understand what the postage lady said when she handed me a blank white sheet of paper and a pen. She stated a few phrases, but I only recognized one word: mingtze. It means name. She wanted my signature.

I thought the worst was over, but it wasn't. I watched her bring out my package. It was in such ragged shape that they had to put it in an oversize trash bag. I took one glance at it and it looked soaked and ready to fall apart at any moment. I touched it and felt an adhesiveness on my hands. I looked at her in disbelief and she smiled and waved zai jian, or goodbye.

That brings me to this moment:

I am soaked; the snow is thick and stinging my face; I am carrying a heavy, haggard package; I am 20 yuan poorer; and I have been made a fool of in more ways than one. I am in no mood!

On the walk back to my apartment I think about what might be in the package and if I want to stop in my office and throw snowballs at everyone's computer.

After making it up to my room, I grab a knife and check the package out. It is so soft and worn, I can poke a hole in it with my finger. I put the knife down. I tear through it with my hands. Why is it this wet? Why is it so sticky? As I tear through it, I find an agglomeration of stale, sticky Fruit Loops. Fruit Loops? You sent me Fruit Loops? I tear through it some more. I see a small section of bubble wrap (within an outer layer of bubble wrap), shaded brown. What was this for? My eyes light up when I see I ton of food that I have not seen or been around since I've been in China. I see Kraft MAC and CHEESE, Chef Boy RD, Apple Jacks, Blow Pops, Twizzlers, POP TARTS, Peanut Butter Crunch N Munch, Peanut Butter crackers, Oreos, Swiss Chocolate Pudding, Swedish Fish, Now and Laters, Chewy Granola bars....all the good stuff. But as fast as my eyes light up, they shut down. Nearly everything is ruined. It is either wet or crushed. After rummaging through my junk food catastrophe, I finally find what the bubble wrap is for, all the way at the bottom. This also explains why my package and everything in it is so sticky. It is a bottle of Boost. Boost. BOOST!!!!! He sent me BOOST! And it is gone! All gone. No Boost, and my chub food is taken from me in a Boost ridden bloodbath. I think about the eggs, tofu and eggplant I have in my refrigerator and I want to cry like Angelica does after someone takes her beloved Cynthia doll away (with the peculiar hair). Why God? What have I done? Should I be giving all my money away to the bums who haggle me every day? Should I be learning more Chinese? Do I swear too much at traffic? Am I not a good cat sitter?

I was able to salvage the Apple Jacks, Mac and Cheese, Raviolis, Twizzlers, Swedish Fish, (real original) Oreos and Granola bars. Due to withdrawal, I had Mac and Cheese, Raviolis, Twizzlers, Swedish Fish AND granola bars for dinner. Thanks dad!

The end.


Package from my dad

The initial rip (Vendetta is excited)
Note from Dad:
"Sup. Just thinking of you. Thought you would like some goodies. Wish you were home for Christmas. Hope you like what you got. Love Dad and Colleen." 
---Sup, haha, father's famous words.

RIP Boost

The Survivors of the Boost ridden bloodbath

I am finally at peace.