Halfway round the world . . . on 44 cents

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

I went down to the mail room the other day to pick up some class rosters and found an unexpected bonus: a Christmas card from my mom!

It was unexpected, not because my mother ever fails to send a holiday card, usually with a nice cash present enclosed in lieu of a store-bought gift…but because I happen to know that she mailed it with way-incorrect postage.

She had reported a few weeks earlier that she woke up in the middle of the night when it all of a sudden dawned on her that postage from Erie, PA to Covington, KY, USA (44 cents) is not the same as Erie, PA to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where I currently reside.

The US mail postage to the KSA is actually 98 cents–still a pretty smokin’ deal when you think of the distance and number of hands it has to go through.

What my mom had done was assemble her holiday cards and checks to her three children and simply put the same postage on all of them, rather pleased with herself (she says) that she got them all out before the actual holiday.

Here’s what happened next.

Worried sick that her money-laden holiday card would end up in some dead letter office for years, she hustled down–or hustled as much as a sweet octogenarian on oxygen can hustle–to the post office and explained the problem.  They assured her that most likely the letter would simply be returned to her since she had carefully affixed a return label to the envelope. In the meantime, she also took the precaution of calling the bank to cancel the check.

Here’s how I envision the scene at the Erie post office.

When they saw that a sweet elderly little fretful gray-haired lady was sending a Christmas card to her son in Saudi Arabia with his Christmas check, I can picture the clerk saying, “Hang the postage due, boys; let’s get this one through…on the house!”

Of course we both had hoped the letter would bounce back so mom could simply send the check directly to my Wells Fargo account in Phoenix.

Still, it’s much nicer to have the card.

And if I hear any of your complaints about the US Postal Service from now on, you’ll have me and a sweet still-golfing octogenarian to deal with.


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