One thing you learn when collecting from overseas is patience. Ok, maybe not patience, but you learn how to wait (not quite the same thing). Mail needs to be sorted and processed and labeled and customs need to be cleared. When it’s sent airmail, it takes between 1 to 2 weeks to get here. Those packages have you checking eagerly the mailbox 3 times per day as the estimated date approaches. I’m mainly saying this because I haven’t received any cards in 10 days and am expecting several packages. I get my hopes real high, only to see them crushed by the harsh reality of the post office.
Compared to when I used to collect, during the 90s, a couple of weeks aren’t so bad.
It was before I got the Internet. During the mail-order heydays. I’d look at the ads in my Beckett magazine, see who welcomed international buyers (there weren’t too many of them), send them a letter asking for their catalog, wait a couple of weeks, browse through it, write them back asking for the shipping prices, wait a couple of weeks, look at the figure, gasp, write back asking if they offered surface mail as a service, wait a couple of weeks, look at the new figure, sigh in relief and send them my definite order.
And then the real waiting would really begin. Because at a time when we need to know everything right away and when an ebayer will get a negative review if he doesn’t ship out the item the same day and your girlfriend will start wondering why you’re not answering her text right now (those last two examples are not related), k now this : surface mail takes 6 to 8 weeks to get here. I was very eager to get the aforementioned order, as I hadn’t bought a pack of cards in a while and was tired of basketball cards. I don’t really remember what was in it, oddly enough. Some 96 Leaf, 95 Upper Deck, 94 Pinnacle, a whole bunch of Score and Topps traded box sets, 93 Studio and probably a few other things. It was a lot of money for me at the time. S&H was 12$ surface mail, as opposed to 50$ airmail.
And of course, my mind started counting 6 weeks from the day I posted my order. Which means I was basically 3 to 6 weeks early. But it was during my summer vacation. I had all the time in the world to wait. And to wait, I did. I was like a dog, actually, wagging my tail (figuratively) as I heard the mailman approach, dribbling a basketball in my driveway for hours just to be sure I wouldn’t miss him, checking the mailbox several times a day just in case he realized he’d forgotten that package in his truck and decided to make a second stop to my house. And the disappointment to see that there was nothing for me was pretty much heartbreaking. I lead a very difficult life growing up. It went on for about 4 weeks. And one day….one day I wasn’t home. So I saw the paper slip in my mailbox. And of course this was on a Saturday. And of course the post office is closed on Sundays. I had to wait another day. The post office God was mocking me.
So yeah, right now I’m 16 all over again. I wish I could play in my garden with my dog, waiting to see if the postman has a little surprise for me. Maybe I’ll just bark.