A Thanksgiving mistake with a Christmas ending.
After a simply wonderful Thanksgiving week in St. Paul, MN, visiting loved ones, old friends, and seeing a great show, my cousin dropped me off at the smaller terminal at the airport for my return to sunny Florida. The wait at the security check wasn’t too bad for a holiday weekend, but it got longer when a TSA agent had to do a hand search of my purse. It turns out that they are more efficient in Minneapolis than they are in Orlando, as I’d somehow gotten all the way to Minnesota with my trusty small Swiss Army knife.
The little thing is usually left on my kitchen table when I’m flying somewhere, but obviously I’d overlooked it. As the TSA agent guessed, it had sentimental value. After carrying it for over 40 years, including through the CIA version of boot camp training, it seemed awful to have to throw it in the trash. The TSA guy said there was a chance the airline might put it in my luggage that had already been checked, but I was flying El Cheapo Air, so he was not confident.
I walked back out of the security zone and asked the counter agent for El Cheapo. No dice. Checking another bag, if I had one, would be $50. Thinking as desperately as I could, I asked if he at least had an envelope. He made a weak pass at a search, then handed me a tissue. Holding the tissue, I couldn’t imagine if he was being a smartass expecting me to dry my tears, or if it was just feeble attempt to be helpful.
Since there was no postal facility in the terminal, my next stop was a small news and sundries shop looking for a small box and stamps. Nope and nope. But the helpful ladies suggested the ATM machine had stamp booklets for sale. Using a sturdy Christmas card seemed my only option. $8 … it’s the airport.
The ATM, however, had no stamps. I tried every menu. A lady at the tourist info desk agreed they used to have stamps in that machine. Aargh! Back at the sundry shop I offered to pay one of the clerks, a Somali woman, to send it for me. She couldn’t do that, she said, but she did have two forever stamps in her purse. It was something! I pulled out my wallet but she refused any money in spite of several attempts to push money her hands. With profuse thanks, I gave her hand a warm shake and hoped all good blessings for her and her family.
Addressing the card to myself, I dropped the knife with its parachute cord weave fob into card and then the green envelope. Sealing it closed as best my spit could manage, I addressed it from me, sent to me, via St. Paul/Minneapolis airport, I placed it hopelessly into a blue mailbox outside of the baggage claim area (sorry I’d checked my winter coat already!). Buh-bye, I thought. Slim chance to none I’d ever see it again.
Fast forward to two weeks later, an orange notice appears in my mailbox. Envelope to be picked up, postage due $2.76. No way! But looking at the info, it noted it was from my address to my address.
Elated, in the silliest way possible – over a small pocket knife! – I got into the very long, out-the-door line at our main postal station. The manger waved me to the side, as I was the only person picking up instead of mailing holiday packages. Still unbelieving it had arrived intact, I grinned stupidly as he handed me my lumpy green envelope. I moved to give him $3, but he waved me off. “No worries,” he said. Another little mitzvah.
To strains of “Reunited,” I practically danced back to my car. Okay, it was some shit Christmas carol, but in my head it was Peaches and Herb all the way home.