The Christmas Package
Sometime last week, we got a phone call from a person speaking Chinese. I always tell them, "I can’t speak Chinese," and hand the phone to Song Ying, who then takes care of whatever it is they’re calling about.
This particular phone call was regarding a package which was to be delivered by Fed Ex. Another phone call to David, and I had learned that his boss was sending us a Christmas package.
The phone call was from the Fed Ex office in Shenzhen, which is a neighboring city on the border with Hong Kong. What Fed Ex wanted was a copy of the passport (something we also have to supply when we pick up mail from the post office, I always thought to verify our identity), and I supposed some kind of declaration that the goods were for personal use and not for resale. I prepared the documents and attempted to fax them. The fax number was busy all day, so the fax never went through. The whole issue slipped my mind until that night, when I saw the documents still on the fax machine with the reports that it had not been delivered (in spite of our automatic redial feature).
The next morning at 10:30 AM, there was a crisis. The Fed Ex people had not received the documents, and they HAD to have them by 2:00 that day. It turned out that what they wanted was for me to tell them what was in the box.
Uhm, excuse me, but it’s a gift. I have no idea what’s in the box. Moreover, you are the ones with the box in your possession. How am I supposed to figure out what’s in the box, when you have the box and you are in a different city? Well, it’s abundantly clear, was the reply (as relayed by Song Ying). You must call the person in the USA who sent the box, and ask them what’s in it. Song Ying was rather insistent that I must call David’s boss immediately and ask him what’s in the box.
I explained that it’s a gift and it would be very rude of us to ask them what’s in the box. Moreover, I said, it’s now 10:00 P.M. in the USA. Even if I were willing to call and ask what was in the box, it would be very rude of us to call so late at his home. Those things don’t matter, I was told via Song Ying. The only solution to the problem was that we must call him, find out what’s in the box, and tell them the contents before 2:00 P.M., this day. I couldn’t imagine that this was an issue that couldn’t wait 24 hours to be resolved. It wasn’t life and death, and I just wasn’t going to do it. Song Ying got back on the phone.
Some other conversation occurred, and we received another fax from the Fed Ex people. This second fax from them contained more documentation. In that documentation was the customs declaration that my husband’s boss had filled out when he shipped the box. Right there on the very documents they already had, the contents were itemized and the value declared. Shocked, I told Song Ying to tell them that they already had the information they were asking me to supply! The response? They didn’t know English and didn’t have anyone in the office who could translate it.
At that point, even more shocked that there was nobody in the Shenzhen Fed Ex office that could read an English bill of lading, I called in the heavy artillery: David’s translator at his office. Even though she was quite busy, I faxed her all the documentation (including the passport page, the list of contents, and the Fed Ex phone numbers). I asked her to call Fed Ex, figure out what they needed, and take care of it, which she did.
The box arrived on Christmas day around 2:00 P.M. It was in great shape. The only evidence that it had been opened and inspected was that the gift basket had been wrapped in cellophane. When it had been rewrapped, the cellophane hadn’t been closed where it had been cut. Styrofoam pellets had gotten inside.
The treats were really yummy — a real taste of home! Very nice surprise! David — poor thing — just got a book. We girls, on the other hand, got some real goodies! Clarissa exclaimed, "Daddy, I love your boss!" Munchkin squeals, "Poppers!" and grabbed them. Sarah gasped and grabbed the big candy canes.
Candy Canes Pop Rocks Praline Pecans