It must be a record somewhere—nearly three years for a small package to reach our post office on the port. In the age of instant coms, it’s hard to believe that an envelope could literally take years to arrive at its destination (though the main thing is that it eventually did!).
Not so long ago an expatriate received a dog-eared, moth-eaten parcel that had somehow managed to travel half way around the world, twice, before landing on the Rock. No one knows for sure how this happened, but it evoked some speculation because the aforementioned mail had been franked in places as far away as Moscow and Montreal.
There was nothing obviously untoward about the address upon initial inspection; nor were the contents of the parcel extraordinary, just a couple of paperbacks, but it had also visited the United States a couple of times, as well as France and Italy.
It was addressed to
Mademoiselle “Jane Doe”
So how did the package go on such an extended walk-about? Someone suggested that it went to both France and Quebec because the sender had quirkily titled the recipient “mademoiselle.” Another pointed out that the package may have been returned to the States, where it appeared to have come from originally, because the zip code for Hydra, 18040, is also the zip code for Easton, Pennsylvania.
It was then astutely decided that it had gone to a Russian post office because some bright spark had noticed that “Greece” had been written in an alphabet resembling Russian. Nobody could quite figure out why it had vacationed in Italy, except that Poste Restante sounded like an Italian pasta or something.
According to the stamp marks, in most cases the parcel had sat in an unknown/pending pile for a few weeks before some clerk had decided to pass the buck onto the next “logical” country.
When asked for our snail-mail address abroad, most folks don’t believe that what we tell them is sufficient. The lack of street name, house number, suburb, city, and state lines diverges suspiciously from what is regarded as the norm.
Keeping it simple works best. A sorting clerk in any post office anywhere initially looks at the address’s bottom line and puts the piece of mail in the relevant bin or pigeonhole. So, if it says Greece, it will go into an overseas box, then a European box, where it is then stuck in a mailbag destined for Athens. Once in Athens, it is then subsorted into suburbs, regions, or islands; so, something marked Hydra comes here. Once here, well, they know who we are:
Whilst we do not advocate everyone keeping it this simple, that is, not even using a surname, snail-mail will find its way home … as we found out recently.
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