Thursday, June 8, 2017
Do It Like You Mean It
One of my late aunts was very artistic. Rosemaling was her joy, and she shared the results of her talents with everyone she cared for. But since many of the family members had moved some distance away, that meant that she had to send her artwork by mail.....and the results were nearly always disastrous. What happened was in NO way the fault of the USPS. The credit for the breakage falls squarely on my aunt's slender shoulder. She could not (as we say here in the South) pack for pea-turkey.
Once my aunt sent my mother a box of five or six clocks that she had made; Mother's job was to make sure that the clocks got to the appropriate people. But, unfortunately, it turned out to be a lot more difficult than that.
My aunt had spent hours and hours she laboring over those clocks! She cut the wood, sanded, and prepared it. It was all little curvy edges which meant lots of extra effort. Then there were coats and coats of paint. And next was the rosmaling decoration. She designed each face differently and selected just the right personal colors for each recipient. She also made a special secret mixture for an ormolu-style decorative accent--almost like frosting on a cake--that made her artwork different from any other simple rosemaling. Finally, she assembled battery-operated clockworks with pendulums to give the clocks more charm. It was an expensive undertaking, too, but she was more than willing to "bust the budget" in her efforts to make others happy.
But unfortunately (there's that dreadful "unfortunately" again), my aunt had absolutely no conscious understanding of what it meant to ship something. She wrapped one single sheet of thin tissue paper around each clock, piled them on top of one another in a double layer in a large box, wound a single thickness of tape round the box, and sent them off. Oh my. She never considered that a box isn't carried like a platter of turkey into the dining room. Boxes get smacked around, dumped from conveyor belts, have other heavier boxes stacked on top, and worse. The USPS is just doing its job, and they reasonably expect that you've done yours. My aunt clearly did not.
The clocks arrived just as battered and smashed as you might expect and my mother, God bless her, didn't have the heart to tell her sister the bad news. In fact, Mother knew it was useless: after all, Aunt had once sent Mother a very expensive, very large glass jar without any packing materials whatsoever and it was smashed to smithereens. It was only due to Mother's previous complaint about the jar that Aunt had used that tissue paper which she somehow figured was sufficient. So, the whole family spent several days on Clock Recovery while we hurriedly repaired and disguised the damage well enough that the clocks could reach the intended recipients. We had to hurry because Aunt was fussing about the box not getting there, and we just didn't want to tell her that it had arrived because we might have had to explain further. We didn't want her heart to be as broken as those clocks surely were.
Every time I pack an eBay shipment, that box from my aunt comes to mind. I pack like I mean it. I pack like I'm shipping a rare Ming vase (even if the item I'm shipping isn't even breakable). I over-pack as much as I can. In fact, I sent some seeds to my sister last week, and she joked about the fact that she found it difficult to open the package! She said that no one could ever accuse me of packing poorly. Really that's the best compliment I could get. If you care about what you're doing, it's not just a matter of getting the job done; you've also gotta make sure it gets there in good shape. You've gotta mean it.
I packed a big box this morning. Yeah, it wasn't a breakable item. It is still fully center-packed, wrapped in packing paper, double-wrapped with bubblewrap, surrounded by bubble bags, topped off all round with packing peanuts, and put into the sturdiest box I could find. I still wonder if I missed anything, and I prayed while I packed it. I want the item to get there in the best condition possible. I want to do as well for someone else as I'd hope they might do for me.
I still have the clock my aunt made for me. It's on my bedroom wall. My aunt absolutely could not pack anything but she always gave with her whole heart. She gave like she meant it. And there's nothing better than that.
No matter what you're doing, do it like you mean it.
Life is good.