It was a simple package; an off-brand ziploc bag with a message in permanent marker: "For Jessica Stotz. A taste of Wisconsin." The contents were invaluable: two slabs of cheddar and colby jack cheese (certified Wisconian) and a bottle of Wisconsin-brewed Sprecher root beer. Oh, beautiful joy.
It was a package with all the fixings: USPS mailing envelope, customs label, and stamps & messages to boot. Contents: a pair of pants and a visual taste of home and its wildlife. A package of love and thoughts from Mom, mailed October 27. Fast forward 1 week to arrival in Nairobi. Slow forward 7 weeks for elapsed time of sitting in a Nairobi customs office. Jessica finally received a package slip for said package on December 21. Unfortunately, the slip slipped from a slippery pocket on the way to the wrong Posta. After word that the package had been held up in central Nairobi instead of the nearby Posta office, a trip to downtown had to be arranged. December 28 was the day! Jessica traipsed into the Posta toting her ID, hoping the slip bearing her package's tracking number wasn't necessary.
"Excuse me; where do I pick up a package from the U.S.?"
"Do you have a tracking number?" "No." "Go to the next counter."
"No tracking number? Go upstairs."
"No tracking number? Go to that woman."
"No tracking number? Go to that man."
"No tracking number? Go around the desk and go to the claims counter."
"No tracking number? Go down that corridor, past the package cages, to the right, through the doors, up the stairs, and to the postal officer. *grins*"
"No tracking number? Go to the next room."
"No tracking number? It's impossible. I'm sorry. Come back with the slip."
20 minutes later...ARGHHH. We drove off and continued on our town trip of curio shopping ("My name is Paurine. You are my fliend. I give you good plice." "My daughter-in-law's name is Jessica. She is mean. Let's see if you are nice and buy from me.").
Day 2: December 29. Jessica had her slip! That slippery paper had fallen out in a school van, and friendly friend Cassie had located it. Off to the Posta! They skipped the first counters, headed straight to M3 and to the counter upstairs. "I'm here to pick up my package!" Jessica exclaimed.
"No ID, no package."
They turned away, frustrated and discouraged.
Friendly friend turned back and asked again.
"Come come. I will assist you...sit! Sit! You too. Sit..."
After we had been effectively "assisted", it was decided that because Cassie and Yani both vouched for my employment at Maxwell, Yani could sign for my package using her ID. Our Assist Man went to one of the numerous package cages and emerged with my USPS envelope. Finally! Choral music burst forth and light streamed in through the windows high in the cement walls. After having Yani open my package (since she signed for it), a customs officer wrote down what I would be charged for each small item in the package. Assist Man handed me another yellow slip and instructed me to bring it to the cashier, placing my package back on the shelf. Hmph. I turned to walk across the room to the cashier, handing her my slip. She took it without missing a beat in her conversation with the other cashier, looking up periodically as she entered my slip into the computer. I readied my 1125Ksh to hand through the metal lattice. She reached toward the window and I offered the bills to her. Her hand sailed past mine, still clutching my yellow slip. "Go to room 308." "Where?" Her now-empty hand pointed to the right. "We don't collect here." Then what did you just do with my slip?? Sigh. We found a door with faded paint designating the correct room number and peeked through the opening. The woman inside took my yellow slip and began to enter it into her computer. Her laser printer hummed as it warmed up and spit out an invoice.
"Take this to the Co-op Bank."
"I don't pay here?"
"No. We don't collect here. And you'd better hurry; the bank closes at 4 p.m."
We ran (literally) to the car and sped to the busiest roundabout in downtown, then waited to enter it.
We finally reached the bank a block and two busy intersections away and dashed into the building.
"Where do I pay for a package??" I wheezed, exasperated.
"Package? Pay for a package? This is a bank." "No no no, I know! Counter 13. But you'd better run!"
Run we did. Around the building, past men in suits and loafers and women in skirts and heels, and into an open door.
"Can I pay for my package?"
"Counter 13 is over there."
We run out of the open door, down the sidewalk, and to another open door.
4:00. Oh dear.
There isn't anyone at Counter 13. We step up to Counter 14.
"Can I pay for a package?"
"There's no one...oh!" Someone had miraculously appeared!
The woman at Counter 13 was at least half-angel. She smiled at us sweetly and actually appeared to know what she was doing...that was a first. She took my money - I've never been so pleased to get rid of it - and slid me my final yellow slip.
We loaded back up in the car and headed back to the Posta.
Three people and three stamps later, I had my package in hand...well, clutched tightly to chest, elbows out, ready to tackle anyone who tried to wrestle it from me. We stepped off the elevator and headed toward the car..."Miss! Miss!" the little old man yelled. He gestured toward the package. Oh, no. I can't tackle an old man. He might break. He took my slip, made a mark on it with his pen, and returned it with a smile. Ahh. No tackles or groin kicks required. My package is finally MINE, 20 people, 3 trips, and 1195Ksh later.
Don't even THINK of messing with my mail. I will dropkick you.