Friday, July 08, 2005

The Box

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is The Box. Not quite as ominous as The Monolith from 2001, but should probably be said with the horror as The Blob. It looks innocent, right? Apparently not to the Chinese govenment. Here's the story:

When we got to Hong Kong the 1st time Jeff got a nice little cold. Which he shared with me. So by the time we got to Guangzhou, I was sick too. Sadly, I didn't pack too well in the drug department, and I had too little cold medicine for 2....and we were getting Tenley on Monday and we didn't want to share with her.

So I commandeerd Sarah on the China Team to take me to a pharmacy. This turned out to be a real pharmacy, so while I couldn't get Tylenol Cold or Robitussin, I did pick up a couple extra asthma inhalers and some Zithromax. I also got some Chinese cold capsules and some herbal cough medicine that came in these funny glass vials that you had to suck with a tiny straw. They helped a little, but it wasn't doing the trick. I was going to have to resort to desperate measures.
Knowing that California was 1 day behind us, and that Megan had a Fed Ex discount, I called Mom and asked her to hit the Sav-On and have Meg grab some of Ten's Link-A-Doos (which I forgot to pack) and ship the whole mess to us at the China Hotel! With one little caveat: you can not ship "medicine" to mainland China, so the contents of the box would have to be listed as something else. This is the point where the whole thing goes to hell.

The nice idiots at Fed Ex told Meg to list the medicine as "mineral products". This little care package weighed in at three pounds, so Meg wrote 3lb in the total weight, and guessed the value was about $18. Off it went!! Now, judging by the previous to packages we sent to China, it should have arrived on Thursday June 30, or Friday July 1st at the latest.

Except that the Chinese government guys can't read. Somehow they read Meg's "3lb" as 321lbs, which would be 146 Kilograms...and of course something that heavy couldn't be worth only $18. So the customs goons flagged down my box and sent me a 3 page fax (in Chinese) telling me that I needed to write down the contents of the box in Chinese, tell them what company I was with, what company the box was for, and re-valuate it. I was more than happy to do it, but I don't speak, read, or write Chinese.

This would now require the help of the China Team. First I tried to get Jackie (who is a Buisness English major) to help me out. That didn't go so well. So Jackie & Mary pawned my little problem off to Philip. Philip was helpful, but by now it was Saturday and there would be no one at Fed Ex until Monday. Philip finally got a letter written explaining that my little 6x8 box only weighed three pounds and contained cold medicine, baby toys and a personal letter. This was faxed on Tuesday. On Wednesday, my Fed Ex caseworker called Philip and said that the customs goons wanted to see copies of my prescriptions, or a note in Chinese from my doctor. Philip called her back and explained that these were not prescription drugs. That was ok, but now the customs goons wanted a letter listing the ingredients of each drug in the box in Chinese....sure, no problem...if Philip had nothing else to do, and if I knew exactly what was in the box!!!!! But I didn't send it!!!!! I eventually got online and found the ingredients to Halls coughdrops, Robitussin, and Chloraseptic...and somehow Philip figured out how to write dextromorthorphan in Chinese. Now, I called my case worker to impress upon her the urgency of a decision- it was already Thursday morning and we were leaving Friday afternoon, so if they couldn't get it to us by noon Friday, I wanted it returned to sender. At 5:18 on Thursday night, Philip found out that the customs goons had cleared my package and it would be delivered by 12 noon on Friday.

At 10:27am it arrived, and I sprinted downstairs to fetch my cold medicine, despite the fact that my cold was pretty well done days ago.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the Chinese Customs agents could pass for Dr's. They make you wait so long that you end up feeling better before you get the cure. Well I'm glad you are over your cold. Just in time to return to work nice and healthy. See you on Monday Jeff.

eddie contreras said...

You should've called Show Support to get it there. They can get things through anywhere!