Sunday, September 13, 2015

Transatlantica – A New Direction in Shipping

I've shipped baked goods and ice cream to friends and family across the country. From East to West and Northeast to South, boxes from me have covered a lot of ground. I've even sent cookies and cakes to a friend in Hawaii. I always use the USPS because I've got a soft spot in my heart for the Post Office. They gets a bad rap, and in some cases that's deservedly so, but for the most part, I've had great experiences them. 

I think some of that comes from the fact that I use to have an extensive correspondence and dropping letters in the mailbox was one of my joys. The other was receiving something other than bills in return. I'm so old school! (And I'm more than willing to restart that correspondence, should anyone out there want to join me in putting pen to paper.)

Oh. Wait. Back to the point of this blog entry. I've never shipped anything The Continent. And by "The Continent" I mean, Europe. (See? Old school!), mainly because I didn't have anyone there to ship to. That changed earlier this year when my friend Grace and her husband (who is from the Netherlands) moved from Dallas to Paris. They were here for a wedding in July (I believe I posted something about that). I meant to give them a box of my lemon-ginger cream cookies to take back with them but they were so jet lagged, and I was more than a little exhausted from a week of the 9-5, that I clean forgot to give it to them! 

Don't worry. I was able to find a local home for the orphans. Still, that oversight made me determined to get something tasty to them anyway. And since I had a stash of Michele-o-mars handy, I thought, "Why not a transatlantic shipment?" Why not? Because, my goodness, who can figure out the customs forms and the shipment requirements and the timing and the...! Stop. Chill out. Take a deep breath and do one thing at a time. 

I boxed the cookies in such a way that I thought they'd shift as little as possible. I'm finding that this is key to anything I send through the post; the less room the goods have for moving around as the box gets assaulted by man and machine from here to there, the better. But you also have to leave enough room inside so that the goods don't get squished when the box inevitably gets compressed. 

Once I got that done, I weighed it and settled in to figure out the forms. Nothing I've shipped has ever had to make it through customs before, so I paid close attention to the "Keep this crap out of our country" section. It seems that "chocolate cookies" isn't on that list. *phew*. I selected the shortest time between two points postage option (that I could comfortably afford), slapped the label on the box, and set off to the Post Office to consult with a clerk to make sure I filled everything out right.

A Word About Postal Clerks:

I know a lot of people have had horrendous interactions with postal clerks. I've seen the videos, heard the stories, seen the tantrums on both sides of the desk. Heck, I've had one or two less than satisfactory experiences myself. However, by-and-large, I prefer dealing with them when I've got something tricky to send. I always approach them with a smile and a "good morning", and never fail to get the same back. We acknowledge each other's humanity and establish a little rapport. Most everything from that point on goes smoothly; they're always helpful, efficient, and pleasant with me.
 
A Word About Postal Clerks Ends.

The sweet clerk took me through the form, point by point, double-checked the weight and amount of postage, and assured me that everything was in order. She took the box into her charge. Off it went and off I went back to work, and to tell Grace, via FaceBook, that I'd sent her a box of something. I wouldn't tell her what was in the box because I'm evil that way. I made her promise to take pictures of the box and the contents, though, because I really wanted to see the shape in which everything arrived. 

Days later, after numerous checks on the tracking number, the package arrived at her mailbox in Paris. Via Facebook (again) I told her she might want to check her mail. She disappeared and soon after I was greeted with these images:

Seems intact! And look at all the check boxes to choose from on that form!
First bite of a cookie sent across the Atlantic!

 Our Facebook message exchange when thus:

Grace: Already being devoured! I can not believe you did this. You are so amazing. I love you so much!

Me: Cool! I'm glad they got there in one piece. :) And save some for Leon!

Grace: I'm afraid I can not make that promise.

Me: My first transatlantic delivery is a success!

Grace: A ripping, tripping, light dimming success! But as much as I love them, you can never do this again...It's ridiculously expensive.

(I laughed using my inside voice)

Me: Oh, no, honey. Shipping ice cream overnight is ridiculously expensive. This? I could do this a couple of times a year.

And who knows. I just might!

I wasn't surprised that the marshmallow had started coming through the chocolate a little. The coating was fairly thin, as per Michele's specs. Next time I decide to ship these somewhere, I might put a double coating on them. We'll see. 

Currently listening to: Tori Amos - Baker Baker

 

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