Monday, September 10, 2012

Special Delivery

Saturday morning, I heard the brass mail slot squeak on its 75-year-old hinges and fetched the two envelopes our local Royal Mail bike delivery guy had left for us.  The mail guy, who looks like he's old enough to be my dad, rides right up to our front door and doesn't even need to get off his bike.  

It's such a strange thing to have front door delivery since the mail box at the curb was the closest our mail person has ever been to the house back in Texas.  And the first couple times I heard the mail slot I immediately thought someone was breaking into the house since that just aint the way it's done back home. The trick with this more handy delivery system is that sometimes Ollie thinks things placed through the mail slot - envelopes, advertisements or local papers - are just hanging out right inside the front door on the rug for him and thus fair game for immediate destruction.  

Beating Ollie to the door, I discovered it was two separate notices for items needing delivery from Parcel Force Worldwide.  The import VAT (tax) and customs clearance fees totaled £27.64 for one of the parcels and £27.28 for the other.  And then insult is heaped upon injury when you convert it from pounds so that you realize it's $88.

I racked my brain, trying to figure out who had sent me two boxes from the US.  Was it a family member or friend?  Had I just gone online to pay $88 for some Reese's Pieces and Buc ee's t-shirts?  (Texas folks will totally get this reference.) Or maybe a couple of the universities where the teen recently applied sent her some course catalogs as well as really heavy housing and degree program booklets.  

After getting initially irritated at the cost when I paid it online with my debit card, and then forgetting about it over the course of the weekend, it dawned on me this morning the two boxes were probably wreaths I found online and ordered several weeks ago.

Isn't it cute... if a tad bit blurry since I filched it from the website.  I ordered a winter one in addition to a fall one.  They each cost about $100, so I thought it was a good deal.  Lord knows I can't whip up anything like this and if something this fabulous was readily available in England, it would cost twice as much.  

I think these mesh wreaths are really practical.  If they got wet in the English weather, or they fall off the door a time or two since the girls love to give it a brisk slam every danged day even though it rattles the front wall of the house, I won't be forced to strangle a kid or toss it out in the rubbish bin a couple months later when the cloth ribbons sprout mold.  

Thanks to a hefty $400 price tag, the other wreath I also found online (pasted below), drooled over and tried to justify purchasing for several weeks got shot down by my conscience.  

I figured even a Jedi mind trick strong, logical argument (you've gotta spend money to save it, this will cost like 35¢ a year by the time I die and pass it on to one of the girls to hang on their front door and you just know they'll fight over it because it will still be in such good shape with its cute little hand-sewn boots) still wouldn't get the husband to understand that the cost was totally justified by its over-the-top preciousness.  And maybe I would have resembled Gollum a bit in my zealousness, hiss and all, as I pleaded my wreath's case with master... but who wouldn't when faced with a darling pair of Santa pants sporting a belt buckle.  

So anyhoo, once I figured out what the parcels must be, I got miffed because it dawned on me I had already paid $50 for the wreath lady to ship each one.  And I'm thinking maybe she isn't too savvy with the whole international shipping racket because you round DOWN.  The mesh ribbon, hot glue and wire base, along with a few Christmas doodads, couldn't have cost her more than $25 at the local Wal-Mart or craft store. I guess that just proves how valuable a skill ribbon wrapping and bow tying are to an expat wanting a dose of American holiday fabulousness for the front door.  Now my wreaths are especially precious since I've paid about double what I originally planned to spend.    

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