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October 05, 2004

Mail Call

At various points in my life, mail has been central to my day – boarding school comes to mind. Hurry down at recess, nudge my way through the crowded mail room. Will I open my box and find it empty? The worst… Will I find a letter from my mom? Yes, reliably, each week… Will there be a letter from that cute boy I met skiing over Christmas? A letter from a new love interest could last me a good week.

Once again, here in Ireland, mail is key in our day...

We await the details on our phone service. We need the car registration to arrive so that we can insure our car so that we can drive so we can get groceries. Each day, Monday to Friday, we have high hopes. (No mail service Saturdays or Sundays, no surprise…) We often get junk mail – offers to sell our apartment, a new take-out for Indian food. It was almost two weeks before we received our car registration. And, true to form, Mom has been the one to deliver, regularly. Our first piece of mail was even from Mom, replete with an assortment of newspaper clippings offering words of wisdom to Kerry. Receiving the letter itself was all the more poignant since Mom can’t really see anymore, and we understand that her written words are a true labor of love.

One of our long-awaited pieces of mail is our replacement MasterCard. Mark, unfortunately, lost his (details, details…) the week before we left for Ireland. Fleet indicated to Mark that a new one was in the mail, immediately. We knew that could mean ten days, anyhow. But those ten days are long gone, and it was time last night to call them, for the third time, to tell them we had not yet received the new cards.

I have developed a straightforward, calm, no-nonsense approach to these conversations. (Really, Kate, you would not be embarrassed by my tone.) After proving to two different authorities that I am who I am. (They could care less that I am a registered alien though I am thrilled to be one, at last.) They want to know the last four digits of Mark’s social security number, of my social security number, our mailing address (Which one?), Mark’s mother’s maiden name… Then I am shuttled to a second phone person who promises the new cards are in the mail. “And how are they being mailed?” “Well, air mail.” “How long will that take?” “7 to 10 business days.” “That must be for within the United States. Theoretically, that’s how they were mailed last time, and they have yet to arrive. Can’t you FedEx them?” “Oh, no, that is only for international addresses.” Ah, ha! Herein lies the problem. Haven’t we all heard about the sad state of geography in the general populace? “Well, Ireland is an international address,” I remind her. Perhaps I’m being too harsh — there is a Dublin in the States, in Ohio, after all. Possibly she hadn’t noticed the place name, Ireland, which followed the place name, Dublin. “Oh!,” she exclaims, “Let me see if I can recall that order! You know, I can only ask for one new card for you in each work day.” A few minutes pass, and I am happy to hear that she has successfully intercepted and changed our order, and our new cards are being sent, hippity-hop, overseas by the fastest means possible.

We were promised overnight service. Need I say that the mailbox was empty today? Except for yet another offer to help sell our flat… In the meantime, I am looking for the geography lobby in Washington D.C. and planning on pledging thousands.

P.S. The replacement credit card arrived a week later, registered mail. We received two cards, actually, both in Mark’s name. Don’t they know who the professional shopper is and who actually uses the card? Mark telephoned, to activate the new card and to request one with my name on it. That one arrived registered mail, today – another two weeks later. Time flies.

Posted by gretchen at October 5, 2004 04:14 PM


What's your address again? i want to send snailmail!

Posted by: Jenny at October 5, 2004 05:16 PM

Gretchen, you're not trying to convince us that the US isn't the center of the universe, are you? Rome IS in New York and Paris IS in Tennessee. The ones in other countries don't count. Haven't you been listening to our president?

Posted by: Dorothy at October 8, 2004 06:25 AM