If it Absolutely, Positively Has to Be There Overnight, Don’t Call FedEx. Or the Postal Service. Or UPS. Or even DHL.

After several stressful days in a row, today was going to be easy. No responsibilities until a meeting for Spencer’s orientation this afternoon. I needed a “down” day, and good news would have been even better!

What I got was a phone call from Zambia first thing this morning. Lina was in quite a bind. She had completed the first leg of her trip (she’s going on vacation to Kenya) only to find that her debit card had expired. She wanted to know if the new one had arrived here at the house. I didn’t think so, but of course I looked. And looked.

After less than half an hour I found it in a stack of mail that apparently arrived when I was out of town. I was so happy! What Lina needed me to do was overnight it to her friend Beth in Canada, who will be flying to Kenya on Sunday to meet Lina. So the first thing I needed to do was get an address in Canada to send it to. I messaged both Beth and her mother on Facebook, and eventually Beth responded by sending me her aunt’s address.

Since it was still morning, I went happily off to the post office, thinking I’d be back in fifteen minutes. However, when I talked to the clerk at the post office and told her that I had to have guaranteed delivery by Saturday, I didn’t get the answer I hoped for. She said that even their express mail could only guarantee getting it there by Monday or Tuesday, which of course was no help at all.

Silently gnashing my teeth, I went out to the car and called FedEx before driving all the way to the other side of town where they are located. They were very cheerful, but could not get the document to Canada before Monday.

I drove to the UPS office to check into their options, only to find that it would not be open till 4:30 in the afternoon. It was at that point that tears entered the picture. I mean, why should it be so hard to get a piece of paper into a neighboring country in two days?

I knew there was a “UPS Store” in town, so I got Nigel to tell me how to get there in the rain. (Rain! For the second day in a row! Glorious!) I had a little trouble finding a parking spot, but eventually I got to the place and was instantly pounced on by a guy who obviously had nothing to do. I told him I was desperate. I came very close to saying, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi! You’re my only hope!”

He was sure he could help me. But when he punched in the information, guess what? Their express service couldn’t get my document to Canada before Monday. But wait! They also deal with DHL. He pulled up the DHL information and yes, you guessed it, they could not get it to Canada before Monday either!

Fortunately I’m pretty good at thinking on my feet. If I couldn’t send the thing to Canada, I wondered, what about Kenya? Lina’s first few days in Kenya she’ll be staying with our friends Steve and Angie. So I asked the guy and he said, oh yes, DHL could get it to Kenya on Monday. (I know. Why isn’t it faster to Canada than freaking Kenya? Does that seem right to you?)

The only problem was that I didn’t have Steve and Angie’s address. However, Steve’s parents live here in town and his mother is my dear friend Joan, so I called over there, only to get an answering machine. Twice. Okay, so they weren’t home, but Steve’s brother also lives here in town, and I could call his wife Jolene, right? Wrong. I didn’t have her number. I called her church, but they won’t give out phone numbers no matter how desperate you are. They did say they’d call Jolene and tell her to call me.

I called Walter and asked him if a guy he works with might have the address. One guy at work actually has Steve’s number, and he texted Steve to tell him to text me. I never heard from Steve. Then I tried calling my neighbor Sylvia multiple times, because she goes to the same church as Jolene and might have her number. She also was not home. So I called my friend Marsha who also goes to that church, and she answered, but she was at work and had no access to the church directory, which might have Jolene’s number or even Steve and Angie’s address!

By then I’d been sitting there in the UPS store for more than an hour. I texted Lina and asked her if she by any chance had Steve and Angie’s address. She didn’t, but she did have Steve’s number. So  she texted me back and said that Steve and Angie don’t have a physical mailing address, only a PO box. DHL does not deliver to PO boxes. Can you even imagine my level of frustration by this point? I was mentally figuring out how long it would take me to drive to Ontario and hand-deliver the paper if I left immediately.

Over the next hour there was a flurry of texts from me to Lina, Lina to Steve, Steve to Lina, and Lina back to me. I’m not sure why Steve couldn’t or wouldn’t text me directly. Anyway, I asked if there was a mission address that the document could be delivered to, and after more waiting and texting, I finally had an address in Nairobi.

Back to the counter I went with the new address, and the guy confidently typed it in, only to find that DHL wanted to know what suburb of Nairobi it was in. More texting. I got the name of the suburb at last, and finally, we had liftoff! The final indignity came when I found out what the cost of sending one piece of paper to Kenya in four days is. A LOT.

The whole ordeal took six hours out of my day and left me beyond stressed. I drove home and had only twenty minutes to calm down before heading over to the campus for an orientation event. It was a good meeting and I was glad to see that Spencer is going to get a lot of support as a college student. I just was so tired by the end of it. Stress really tires me out, and today was extremely stressful! I came home and took a little nap.

Here’s the thing about this story though. Yes, it was stressful and traumatic and frustrating and all the rest of it. However it was also possible. Who would have believed this, even a few years ago? That I could sit in a UPS store in Texas and carry on a real-time conversation with my daughter in Zambia and my friend in Kenya and figure out how to send a document from here to Nairobi in four days? It’s kind of mind-blowing, when you think about it!

Did I mention today is also Spencer’s 20th birthday? I didn’t plan his breakfast in bed because I thought he’d be busy with orientation all day, but as it turns out there would have been time if I had known! And if I hadn’t been frantically trying to figure out how to get that card to Lina. He is hoping to have some friends over for a cookout tomorrow.

Since it was his birthday, I wanted to make a nice dinner, even though we’re not officially celebrating today. What I didn’t know was that my husband didn’t have to do his usual evening job today and that there was an orientation event at 7:00. So when I found out, I went into overdrive making a nice spaghetti dinner, only to have Spencer leave to eat on campus with Kat. I got the dinner done just as Walter had to leave for the event (I already knew I wasn’t up to going). So he went hungry.

Lucy wasn’t feeling well, so I thought I could at least eat supper with Jasper. I just had to heat up my frozen cauliflower “rice” to stand in for pasta. The cauliflower was gone. Nowhere to be found. So I told Jasper to go ahead and eat his dinner and I collapsed in my chair and cried. I know I’m a big baby, but I had just had it for today.

Jasper, sitting at the table, saw the jar of olives by my place. (Since not everyone likes olives in their spaghetti, those of us who do like them just add them on top.) “At least you can have your olives,” he said. That kid is such a gift. He always sees the bright side. “You’re right,” I said. “I can eat olives.” “And better yet,” he added, “you actually like olives!” Cue more tears.  Lucky me. I have olives, and I actually like them! And my sweet son brought me a long toothpick to spear them in the jar and eat them easily.

The day is not over, but I think I’d better post this before anything else makes me cry!


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