Saturday, July 08, 2006

Something Fishy?

I've gotten a few comments and e-mails asking: What's up with Ilaiy's fish? Here's the scoop:

Ilaiy bought a little oscar about 6 years ago. In that time, the fish has grown from 2 inches to 14 inches long.

Ilaiy got a job in San Jose, CA, and, though he considered selling the fish, decided he couldn't part with it. He would overnight the fish, hop on a plane, and beat the fish to CA. He'd be waiting with a temporary aquarium when the fish was delivered.

He got explicit fish-shipping instructions from the U.S. Postal service a few weeks before he left.

The morning he left, he had the fish professionally packed at Sailfin, a local store specializing in fish and aquariums. Clean water with special chemicals, in a heavy plastic bag, in a foam core, in a cardboard box, and proper "Live Fish" markings.

When he got to the post office, however, the postal clerk said "we need 2 days notice to ship a fish."

Ilaiy noted that no one had told him that when he'd come in for instructions.

The guy then said, "sorry, it's the 4th of July weekend."

It was the 29th of June.

The guy then said, "I see water on the corner of this box."

Ilaiy explained that the fish had been flipping around wildly when they packed it, but that it had been professionally packed per their specifications, and was not leaking; the wet spot would dry out and be fine.

"Go and repack it."

Ilaiy went BACK to Sailfin, where the staff transferred the fish bag/core into a completely dry box, remarked it, re-addressed it. Their usual fee for this is $65; they charged him nothing.

Ilaiy drove back to the post office.

"Your American Express card is denied." The guy told him. Ilaiy asked him to try it again. "Denied again."

Ilaiy gave the guy his debit card.

"I can't take this card, there's no signature," the guy told him. Ilaiy pointed out that it's a debit card, he has a PIN number.

Ilaiy paid $110 to ship the fish, and the clerk called after him, "If I see one drop of water, I'm calling you!!!"

Ilaiy left the post office, and phoned American Express immediately; they told him that there had been no attempt of a transaction that morning.

That was the morning of June 29.

Today is July 8. The fish has disappeared. It is not in California. It is not in Champaign. The postal service doesn't seem to be able to track it to or from anywhere. They have NO IDEA where it is.

Ilaiy is in a new city, staying in corporate housing while he looks for an apartment before starting a new job. He's been running back home every few hours to check the mail for the last week. He is stressed, saddened, and freaked out at the prospect at what may now show up at his doorstep.

And we are sickened at what may have panned out here. That postal clerk: WAS he just following orders, or was he harassing Ilaiy? Was everyone with an overnight package given that much grief on June 29, due to the holiday? Why would they even accept them if it's going to be impossible to ship it?

After hearing of all he went through that morning, I insisted that we return to the post office, before he flew out, to take down some names. We did get the name of the clerk that gave him such a hard time, his manager's name, and the name of the Postmaster that runs the Mattis Avenue post office.

I have a feeling it will do no good.



  1. Well, I am sure it is too late - I feel for him, when he does get it he will just be more upset.

    Not related, but related: Someone sent me a package a month ago. It traveled around the world, but never got to me and was finally returned to sender. Maybe it is just a bad time for packages.

  2. What an awful story!

    That's the last thing he needs, isn't it? It's hard enough to make such a big up things familiar for a new start somewhere.

    I'm really sorry....and I'll hold out a slight bit of hope that you'll soon post something positive about this. But I'm not holding my breath...



  3. I'm ashamed. What a sad manifestation of prejudice, on a par with your Midstate Siding and Windows experience.

    Poor Oscar.


    I'm a wee bit emotional this morning...

  5. I'll go ahead and say it: of course the postal worker was harrassing him. God Bless America!

  6. Oh, my! Please keep us updated.

  7. betty1:17 PM

    please keep us updated. That bast#rd!man at the post office.

  8. Thanks for you support .. I loved the fish and was painful to part just for the reason it has been through every phase of my life when so many people decide to walk out on you..

    Well just waiting and hoping that it makes it ...


  9. This is horrible!! No wonder the post office has such a bad reputation.

    I'll pray for a happy ending to this saga.

  10. Just despicable. I'm so sorry. That man should lose his job. This is more than irresponsible.

  11. Oh no...why do some people feel the need to bully?

  12. Sorry - I've been away. This is a ghastly story, and I'm afraid it may come to an even worse end, and the whole thing just... hurts my heart. My sympathy to Ilaiy, along with my anger and indignation at this treatment.

  13. Thanks for your kind words, everyone. This has just been awful, that's all there is to it. I'm sure your words here are comforting Ilaiy. Sigh. Depressing.

  14. hey gnight girl!! This is a sad frustrating story!! Why did that guy have to be so rude?? I hope you do get somewhere with this. And in reading your other posts...I like your life. You know that? It's got 'community' and relationships and fun and jumping and good food!! You are awesome.

  15. I am horrified at everything - the treatment at the post office, and the missing special cargo. It makes me so sad for your friend. I hope a miracle happens and Oscar shows up, in good health.

  16. That's insane. I hope he either gets his fish back or someone takes the appropriate measures with that "clerk." Usually, the USPS is pretty good about getting things to their destination. However, I have never tried to ship a fish. Did you check to see if it even LEFT the Mattis PO? Did he have a tracking number? or insurance?

  17. There was a tracking number, but still no one seems to be able to find the thing.

    It's outrageous, I know. The one thing that kills me was the "2-days notice;" who in the heck makes an appointment with the post office?!!

  18. What an ass of a clerk..what did the fish ever do to him? jeez..

  19. Anonymous11:24 AM

    Any word yet?

  20. I feel so bad for him. It breaks my heart to think of what may have happened to this poor fish...


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