Sending Things Back to Australia from China
This is a tale about a knife – My Knife. It went missing in a Post Office. Where was my knife? Did someone steal it? This is the story of a missing knife.
There was a group of Australians teaching there, and we enjoyed each other’s company when not busy teaching or planning our lessons. We were all housed in two apartment blocks, on the edge of the campus, near the offices of the college hierarchy. The apartments were reasonable, with basic facilities, but we supplied certain things for ourselves.
I remember the first night we were there; we had to buy basic items for the kitchen, cups, plates, cutlery, etc. Of course, we often would want to bring them back to Australia at the end of our time there.
The Box Man
When we wanted to send anything back to Australia, even for birthday gifts, because of the Chinese customs and rules, we could wrap nothing, not even in gift paper. We were often sending things back, souvenirs, items we’d purchased, including books we bought at an English Book Shop etc.
The process was that we would take our items to the Post Office, and first go to the man we called “the box man”, for he would determine what size box we needed. Our next stop was a nearby counter, where one of the staff would go through each item and check that they could be sent. At the end of the checking, all items were put in the box, which was sealed, and they gave us documents to complete, with details of the sender and the person that the box was being sent to. A few more checks, and payment, and it was goodbye to our box, and fingers crossed that it would arrive safely back in Oz. It was an excellent system and I can recall that everything arrived safely, a few short weeks later.
The Cutlery Set – Knife, Fork, and Two Spoons
In the last semester, I was there, I purchased a lovely knife, fork, and two spoon set. They look like they have a wooden handle, but it really was just plastic. They looked more salubrious than they were.
I decided I would like to keep the items, and on one of my last days in China, I travelled by bus to the Post Office with a bag of items to send back home. I showed the Box Man and he selected a big box for me, and I wandered to the counter or the next process. The lady behind the counter checked everything and removed the knife. No knife can be sent by post. Now if this knife was sharp and dangerous, I’d not be surprised, but it was so blunt it couldn’t manage much more than butter! But no, it could not go in the box. The Box Man came to the counter and watched the proceedings. The knife was put aside on a shelf. The final process for the box was completed and I paid the fee.
As I was told I could take the knife in my luggage on my return flight, I went to pick it up. But it was gone. Where was my knife? Nowhere to be seen. I assumed that one of the many staff in the area had stolen it. We couldn’t find it, so I left, disappointed.
Returning to Australia via Hong Kong.
I spent a few days in Hong Kong on my way back to Australia, and was soon back at home, waiting for my box to arrive, which it did. It took just over two weeks to make the journey from Shaoxing to Brisbane.
Imagine my surprise when I unpacked the box to find the knife!!! No, no one had stolen it in the Post Office, but someone slipped it into my box!
Yes, and I wondered who it was who had slipped it into the box. I have my suspicion, for one member of the staff in the Post Office, had been very helpful to me frequently. This person had a family member working in the post office, who was learning English and having trouble with pronunciation. I have no proof of course, but I suspect that this person managed to slip the knife in the box, without being detected.
Now, ten years later, I still have the precious set. Precious, just to me. And I like telling the story!
Do you have a strange delivery story?