December 31, 2014

The box I didn't get

Sometime in early October, my mom put a box in the mail to Turkey.

Sometime in early November, the box arrived in Kayseri. Someone at the post office opened the box to do the usual check of international mail. They found some Imodium--diarrhea medicine--in the original packaging.

This person, following procedure, filled in the blanks on the customary letter explaining in Turkish why the package could not be delivered. "This medicine is a controlled substance and requires a doctor's prescription." This letter doesn't include the recipient's name or address. The letter was folded and tucked into a brown waxy envelop. A label with the recipient's address and the parcel's tracking number was carefully placed on the letter.

The letter was delivered to the correct apartment building, but as there was no recipient's name on the label, nor on the inner letter, the waxy brown envelop was filed into a box by the security guard.

The letter sat in the box, undisturbed for nearly a month. The US Postal Service tracking eventually told my mom that the box hadn't been delivered due to a missed delivery, so I went down to the security desk to ask. In Turkish. Yeah.

No package at the desk.

But, are you sure?

Yes. Then the security guard helped me call the shipping company. Ah yes! They knew the package.

Did the box have medicine in it?

Yes probably! I said.

The waxy brown envelop surfaced from the depths of the box.

I needed a prescription for the Imodium, or I could chuck the medicine and collect the rest at the office downtown.

I asked a coworker for help. She kindly took me to a doctor first, to try and score a prescription. This is Turkey, I thought. A fake-ish prescription outta be about the easiest thing to get, considering that Xanax is sold over the counter here.

Turns out we went to an awesome and ethical doctor who was very hesitant to write the prescription for an ailment I didn't have, for a medicine that they have in Turkish pharmacies. When you have infectious diarrhea, we cautioned, you shouldn't take this medicine. You should, let the bacteria come out of your body. Or you will die.

After a few minutes more of our most dignified pleading, the doctor compromised his ethics and wrote the prescription, but on the condition that I would visit his office if I have diarrhea so that he can consult me about whether to take the medicine.

We took the prescription and made the longish drive to the downtown Kargo office. We were taken to a back room, where I expected to see a beat up box from the US. Instead of a box, I saw a man sitting between two desks. He took out a seriously old school ledger. Not just any ledger, but a giant book of package information. I imagine that they've been using that book since the 1970s. He found my number in the book.

Punchline: the box had been sitting there for a month or more, but was shipped back to the US in the past week. Out of Turkey, out of reach. The worker had a number of legitimate excuses which were almost nullified by the awesome excuse that he didn't know that my name wasn't on the label. Apparently he thought my last name was "Rezidans"--the Turkish word for residence--a type of apartment. Nice try.

No box.

Somehow I didn't cry, despite my extreme disappointment. Oh Turkey.