A friend recently sent me a package filled with all sorts of goodies. As a treat, she included a few ziploc bags of frankincense and myrrh. I guess she'd found them at a cool little boutique and thought Drew might get a kick out of seeing the spices that were such significant gifts from the wise men to the baby Jesus.
Things have been a little busy for me this week, so I forgot to touch base with her to acknowledge that I got the package in the mail. A few days went by and the thought occurred to her that she may be in for a big surprise by way of several burly federal agents beating down her door.
You see, apparently frankincense looks quite a lot like an illicit and very illegal drug. Granted, she wrote "Frankincense" on the baggie to avoid any kind of confusion with aforementioned drug, but she considered that the U.S. Postal Service may or may not just take her word for it.
So..., she was glad when I finally confirmed that I received the package - all labeled baggies of "spices" included.
While I was still laughing over the potential debacle we avoided, I remembered another incident that involved me, the postal service and a pretty big misunderstanding.
It was a few years ago. Drew was an infant, and it was late October. My hubby was away on business, and I came home to find a very small package sitting by the front door. With arms full of baby, diaper bag, groceries and keys, I stepped over the envelope and entered the house. Several minutes later, I stepped back out onto the porch to retrieve the mail. Upon close examination, the package (addressed to me) was dirty and hand-addressed. The return address gave me no clue as to the sender, and I certainly didn't recognize the handwriting. A bad feeling sat in my stomach... but I tore a small edge off of the envelope in spite of my hesitation.
Upon peering through the tear, I determined that the envelope I was holding contained nuts, nails, bolts, etc. Hmmm... My next few thoughts included warnings of white powder and images of a guy with a hooded sweatshirt and glasses.
I dropped the little package and herded my family to the opposite end of the house. With trembling fingers, I dialed the police. Well, I dialed my brother who IS a police officer.
"You have to come over right now. Someone has mailed me a suspicious package!"
In an impressive display of patience (maybe he just knew he'd be able to tell a good story), he actually came right over to take a look at the offending parcel. I shouted directions and observations from the corner of a bedroom.
"See that handwriting! I don't recognize it!"
OK, he mumbled.
"Did you open it yet!? Do you see what's inside?! Is it really nails, did someone really send nails in the mail to me!!!!!!"
Yes, someone sent you nails. Just hold on. Let me see if I can open it.
"BE CAREFUL! Are you done yet?"
Yep. There's a packing slip here. It's from Haverty's. Did you order something from them?
I HAD ordered something from that fine furniture retailer a few weeks prior. And even though the nice young men who delivered the trundle bed also put it together for me, the nice people at the manufacturing facility decided to just go ahead and send me the "kit" to build the bed myself. No note, no invoice, no directions. Just a "kit" full of nails, bolts, and other small hardware necessary for bed-building.
The whole incident lasted about an hour - start to finish. It took another 2 days and one angry phone call to customer service for my heart to regain it's regular rhythm.
I haven't always been so dramatic (and I will block all comments to the contrary). Perhaps my mother-bear instincts drove me to the point of paranoia that night. Perhaps I was just a little on edge with my hubby/protector out of town. Maybe I would have handled it independently if I didn't have my local law enforcement on speed dial.
But, it's a crazy world out there, and I'd rather be safe than sorry. I'm just glad that my sweet, considerate friend labeled her "goods" when she sent them. I'd hate to disturb my brother on his day off just for a bag of frankincense...