the mysterious magic of mail

I’ve had some peculiar experiences with the mail recently.

  • My apple juice order from MyBrands came packed in (yes, packed in) eyeglasses still in their cases with fresh price tags.
  • A bride to be got my postcards from VistaPrint mixed in with her wedding invitation order and took the time (and money) to have them overnighted to me using the return address I had printed on the postcards.
  • Sixty greeting cards I had boxed and sent off for goody bags finally found their way back to me after being lost in the mail more than a year ago.

I realize ordering apple juice and paying to ship it when you live in a city with dozens of grocery stores may sound crazy. Let me just say there is something special about Ocean Spray‘s apple juice. And you can’t get it in stores. They serve it in hospitals, which is how I discovered it. So I decided to sate my craving by ordering the stuff from MyBrands per Ocean Spray’s suggestion. When the box arrived in September, I was puzzled to find the four juice bottles packed with not Styrofoam peanuts or bubble wrap, but plastic sleeves with what appeared to be eyeglass cases inside. And wouldn’t you know there was a pair of glasses in each case. So I got nine pairs of glasses in various shapes and colors along with my juice.

A few weeks later I came home to a mysterious package on the porch. I eyed the “overnight” stamp wondering what in the world I had overnighted and forgotten about. As I walked to the living room to put down my bag I began to consider whether I might be having very early onset Alzheimer’s. How do you forget something you ordered for overnight delivery? Inside were my postcards. That seemed odd. Why would VistaPrint have them overnighted to me? Then a sheet of notebook paper slipped out of the envelope. It was a handwritten note from a woman named Stephanie Ostrom. The form on the package where she wrote her return address is very faint, but it looks like she’s from Illinois. In very neat handwriting, Stephanie writes, “I’m sending you these cards because they were sent in with the other half of m wedding invites. I called to have them resend the other 30 of my invites and asked them what I should do with your cards. They said to toss them! I was not going to do that and seen (sic) your address was on them and sent them to you …” How amazing is that?! I didn’t think there were people that nice left in the world. Stephanie doesn’t know it, but in a way her letter renewed my faith in humanity.

The next week, as I pulled into my driveway, I saw a big white box with blaze orange duct tape beside the front door. I was waiting for some items from Etsy so I was trying to figure out which of my orders might be inside. Then I remembered the neon orange duct tape I used for packaging more than a year ago. Cool, I thought, someone else is using it too. As soon as I got within three feet, I recognized my handwriting on the box. At this point, with the last two unexpected mail experiences, I just laughed. This box had been shipped in September or October 2010. When it didn’t make it to the Jingle Bash organizers, I went to the post office to ask whether they had an orphaned package with bright orange duct tape. No luck. They gave me contact information for the post office my package should have been delivered to, but when I called no one knew of a stray package with neon duct tape. I assumed the box was lost forever – maybe delivered to the wrong address. And I often wondered who had gotten the 60 handmade greeting cards. Had they used my cards? I liked to think they were used rather than just thrown out. And suddenly they were inexplicably back at my house. So I sent them with my mini notebooks to be included in this year’s Jingle Bash goody bags. Hopefully, they found their way this time.

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