Saturday, July 08, 2006
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.