I walked out of the Alamo post office with a smile on my face. Usually a trip to the post office is something of a chore, to buy stamps or to mail a package. But this time there was a sense of camaraderie.
As usual on a Saturday morning there was a line. But I was happy to see that it was open until 1:30 p.m. Just the week before, when I was parking in the Danville Trader Joe's lot, an older woman carrying several large packages was distraught to see that that Danville post office was no longer open for business on Saturday mornings. I advised her that Alamo's was open, although I quickly added, "At least I think so."
So a recent Saturday found me in line with a small manila envelope to mail to my son, who lives in Berlin. He had been home for the holidays, scheduled to arrive Dec. 19, in time for pre-Christmas festivities and shopping. But alas Mother Nature saw fit to dump tons of snow on Europe, causing havoc in its travel industry and his flight was cancelled. The best Virgin Atlantic could do was book him one week later. This is why he arrived with laundry.
Soon upon his arrival he put his dirty clothes in the washer, and I added some sheets. When they were washed and dried, I removed my sheets, folded them and put them in the linen closet. My son took his laundry out and eventually noticed one of his favorite socks was missing. After his departure, when I finally took out the sheets to use, there it was, the missing socks. I'll just pop it into an envelope, I thought, it shouldn't cost much to mail, because what good is one sock?
Actually one sock is just fine in some circles. When I hosted Thanksgiving dinner, my great-niece Verity, age 4, arrived in imaginative polka dots and stripes. In a conversation about little girls wearing colorful socks, her dad told me about a website called Little Miss Matched to order children's socks in packages where is one is different. The idea, I guess, is to mix and match, or not match, to your heart's content. But my son is beyond this stage and at his place of business - even though it is an Internet marketing company - one's socks are expected to match.
I have a friend with a flair for entertaining who goes to great lengths to make sure that no China or silverware on her dining table matches. Everything is beautiful or colorful and quality but she has been buying it here and there for years and puts place settings together to suit her fancy. It works - for her. I don't think I could pull it off. Plus it takes a lot of shopping in antique and specialty stores to accumulate all those classy odds and ends.
Anyway, back at the post office, eventually I was handing my envelope with the sock to the clerk. I'd thought of putting together a real "care" package with beef jerky and other things that aren't so readily available in Germany, but I'd decided to just mail the sock right away, since it couldn't possibly cost much to just mail a sock.
"It's only a used sock," I told the clerk, "so I didn't fill out a customs form."
Well, she assured, me, even to mail an old sock internationally, one must fill out a customs form. She handed me the form and said, rather loudly, "Just write 'old sock.'"
It wasn't an "old" sock. It was actually a rather new sock, although not brand new.
"I'll write 'used sock,'" I told her, and I did.
The cost to mail the sock was $1.44, which I paid, and turned to go.
The line had grown and everyone in it was looking at me -- and was smiling. I resisted the temptation to explain to them about my son in Berlin and the sheet that hid the sock, and my figuring that the cost of mailing one sock was way lower than the cost of a new entire pair of socks. Let me just be the crazy lady who was filling out customs form and mailing one used sock halfway around the world.
One week later my son emailed me, with the subject line: "Weirdest little care package ever!" He sent a photo of the manila envelope with the customs form attached stating "1 used sock." His email read: "Indeed one of my favorite socks, and well worth sending." It was enough to warm my mother's heart.