Saturday, February 2, 2013

“Lost and Found”

               Near the end of December, I rendezvoused with my brother at my sister’s house in Bay City, Texas. Together, we sat around her cozy kitchen table and filled out the forms for Mom’s life insurance policies. We double-checked each item to make certain we’d get it all correct on the first run. Once everything looked perfect, I neatly stacked the forms into a pile with the intention of getting the packet mailed before the end of the year.
            We don’t have a post office in Live Oak, and the one in Universal City holds banker’s hours. For years, we used a business that resided within walking distance from my home. This company didn’t simply supply me with stamps. During the busy Christmas season, I sometimes had them wrap and mail my gifts. When the owner lost his lease, Mike shifted his business to Universal City. Unaware of his new location, I often lamented not having his wonderful service nearby. While running errands with one friend shortly before Christmas, she told me she had to stop by Mike’s to send out a package. Imagine my pleasure of finding one of my favorite local businessmen again!
            So with my precious paperwork in hand, I headed to UC Mailing and Shipping Center once I returned to San Antonio. I planned on sending out the package registered mail, but Mike suggested I add the signed receipt, too. He addressed the parcel, I verified the address, and went happily on my way.
            When I didn’t hear anything from the insurance company (and when an automatic deposit didn’t turn up in anyone’s account), I called the agent assigned to Mom’s policies to find out why nothing had moved forward.
            “Ms. Chapman,” she said, “We haven’t received your forms yet.”
            “That can’t be! I mailed them out two weeks ago! Are you certain?” I couldn’t hide my dismay when she ran our names through their system again and came up with nothing.
            If I had gone to the local post office, they would have told me to go online and plow through their tracking system, but since I’d gone to Mike, I called him instead. I broke down crying when I told him the package of insurance papers hadn’t reached Massachusetts.
            “I’ll take care of it,” he stated calmly. “I’ve already plugged in your name. I have the tracking number right here. Give me a few hours, and I’ll see what I can turn up.”
            With his reassurances boosting my spirits, I tried not to worry. Most of the time, my grief sits deep in my stomach and leaves me alone. But when I’m stressed, he kicks up and bursts out with unexpected tears. Facing the possibility of having contact the insurance company, ask for an entirely new packet, meeting with my siblings again, having things notarized—all suddenly seemed too much for me.
            “The package made it from UC to SA main post office,” Mike explained when he called back, “and then it vanished. It wasn’t scanned in or out anywhere else.”
            “What does that mean?” I asked.
            “It means you need to let me have another 48-hours. No, Monday’s a holiday. Give me until Wednesday of next week. I’ll find it,” Mike assured me.
            I began mentally crossing my fingers. Magical thinking slipped in to my days. I tried to wish the parcel from lost to found. When I next called Mike, I stepped outside to pace away my tension in the backyard.
            “It was delivered today!” he reported.
            And I danced a jig! I hooted and whooped with absolute relief and joy! And I promised myself that I’ll pull together some little “thank you” package for Mike because he did this for me.
            Some people would say that Mike was only doing his job, but in reality I should have been the one tracking the package and hassling with the post office. If I’d dropped of the package to a local post office, all of that responsibility would have fallen to me at a time when I couldn’t take on another responsibility. So Mike wasn’t doing his job. He granted me a favor by taking care of something that I wasn’t able to handle.
            In the back of my mind, since delivery of the paperwork, I’ve worried about something else going wrong. Then yesterday I checked the balance on my checking account and felt relief flood through me because the insurance company’s automatic deposit had arrived.
            One more item crossed off the list.

Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman