With love from Lebanese customs
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 31, 2008
Its that time of year already: the weather has turned, and I’m feeling sticky already, at 8:00 am. I’m still trying to hold onto spring – I have the window open, rather than the air conditioning on – but I’m also making plans for summer.
And since we’re moving back to the US, making plans involves two activities I dread: packing and shipping. The packing isn’t so bad – its a good occasion to weed through the debris I’ve collected over my two and a half years here – but the shipping is not something I look forward to with any joy.
I remember helping M sort out her shipping three years ago, when she headed home from Damascus. Many men, many illustrations of different shipping options scratched onto different sheets of paper, and in the end … all the price quotes were remarkably similar. Go figure.
My own experiences with Lebanese shipping have been as a recipient, not as a sender, but that hasn’t made them any better. In February, my parents sent me a “care package” for Valentine’s Day.
It included a sweet hanging heart ornament:
(“Who gave you that?” asked H suspiciously the other day, in a wonderful moment of “see it again for the very first time”. “My mother“, I told him. “Oh”, he said – and totally lost interest.)
And it included a package of Brach’s candy hearts from my father, his traditional Valentine’s Day gift to Sporty D and I since we were very little girls:
The gifts were lovely, but the process of getting them was not. First, the numerous attempted deliveries. DHL would call me and we would agree on a time and place for their delivery-person to bring the package. He would then arrive several hours earlier or later, when I was no longer or not yet at my office/home.
He would leave a delivery notice, and I would call the head office to vent my irritation and arrange another delivery time.
Finally, I got the package – using the simple tactic of being in my office when I had said I would be away. Bingo: DHL arrived then.
But getting the package wasn’t the end of it. For the privilege of enjoying the $10 “thinking of you with love” package from my parents, I paid $26 in customs:
Well, my father said cheerfully when I told him about it, that’s a third of what I paid to send those gifts to you – and I considered it a bargain.
Argh – he has a much more generous nature than I do. I’m hoping that his spirit has rubbed off on me – I think I’ll need it when I get the shipping bill!