Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Shipping News

In my mind's eye: a lone rower, battling the currents and tides somewhere off the Maldives in the Indian ocean, determinedly and steadily stroking through thunder and downpour, burning heat and circling sharks, one ragged nautical inch at a time... or maybe my lone figure is not moving at all, stranded on a jagged splinter of sandy land, deeply enamored of a volleyball imprinted with a vague likeness of a face created by her own bloody handprint. Either way, there is perhaps my package, under her watchful and righteous eye, a little torn on the far corner, just slightly soggy from that last typhoon, in spite of her heroic care and sacrifice.

Someday...three months? Three years? In the distant future when Romney is wrapping up a second term?

A knock will come at my door. Gentle, tentative. A shy smile greeting my quizzical gaze. She points to the deeply faded, nearly illegible address. I will marvel at the strength of her hand, the deep and wizened look in her eye.

I apologize for the delay, sir. Can you sign here?

(miraculous romance ensues)

Or, more likely, my effing  Go camera and motorcycling goggles are in a giant government warehouse, under a gobzillion other dusty boxes going nowhere fast.

Given that alternative, I almost hope it was side-tracked by one of the many working hands en route- that my things are bringing  some happiness to some  son-of-a-biscuit  somewhere.

Shipping brings a shocking dose of reality to living in PP. Even in backwater Issan, I could count on a US Postal International box arriving at my director's house in about 10-12 days. I can skype and e-mail here, stream the presidential debates or Premier League soccer, get a wonderful baguette. But try moving something physical in and out and the picture darkens rapidly.

My friend Nica tried to send in her absentee voter ballot (her first voting as a newly minted US citizen). Cost of DHL shipping (the only game in town other than Fed Ex)? $55- for an envelope! My USPS box was sent over six weeks ago and I have given up on it. Timeline wise, it puts Cambodia back to what? The 40's? Pony Express?

The long and the short of it is this. Driving at night my smoke windscreen is too dark to see. So much debris in the air means eye protection falls into the "must" category.  Solution? Go to the local optical store and buy a slammin' pair of "Oakey"[sic] frames, pick out some clear, scratch proof lenses. 40$ and an hour later- Voila!

I was going for practicality, having no idea my coolness factor would skyrocket the instant I donned them. I chose based primarily on the TESC (total eye socket coverage), which, as you can see, is excellent.
I like them so much, and feel so awesome and hip wearing them that I am considering getting some readers made next...

I don't know what I will do about the Go camera. I wanted it for the kids and to film my crazy commute. And it was expensive!

The abysmal shipping situation brought me back to Lacoste when I lived there in the early 80's. Because the French postal service was given to striking on their own about once a month and in sympathy with other unions occasionally as well, my lovely blue tri-fold airmail letters would arrive in little bundles- some a scant few days old- others weeks and sometimes months late. It was irritating, but then perhaps that is socialism at its finest- quirky and given to human foibles- some lazy, fat Alphonse letting my missives  languish, some empathetic and responsible Veronique blowing the dust off and sending them on their way.
I guess I can accept the delay or loss of my goods if it is the price for the quirky wonder of living here. And I supported the local economy to boot.
After all, efficiency and homogenization are excellent only for capitalism and for machines, yes?


  1. Isn't the shipping news one of those books we were supposed to read in high school?

    Wasn't it about a guy who lived in... alaska-- no... canada... no...

    AH RIGHT! The traffic accident reporter. It's all coming back to me now.