Here is a lesson to be learned about the U.S. and Russian postal services, their inept governments, and the real power of people unencumbered most days by those lessor people (politicians) who rise to power because they were crafty lawyers at mid-life… Not so much a cautionary tale as a mirthful reminder to humanity that those in high seats of profit-driven organizational power are clown enemies of contentment and champions of the cause of mass-somnambulance.
A month ago I sent two priceless paintings, via USPS, to friends in Russia for them to hang in a Moscow pancake house. I paid $108.00 for this service, one seventh of what round-trip airfare and four nights in the Moscow Hilton would cost me (according to Expedia.com) if I decided to hand-deliver the parcel myself, receiving the added benefit of smelling the fresh autumn breezes of a foreign land. The paintings were expected within 6-10 business days, but as of this morning have still not arrived.
My periodontist told me a story recently of a veritable postal miracle that would never happen in countries housing life-hating thermonuclear weapons in underground silos and big sissy ships offshore. He wanted to contact his mother’s family in Poland, that his family in America informed him long ago was wiped out during the second world war. They all lived in a village on the Polish and Russian border, the two countries separated by a river and a bridge. When the Nazis marched through the town, they burned, raped and killed any visible inhabitants charging them with Russian sympathizing. Later, when the Russians pushed the Nazis back over the bridge, they too burned, raped, and killed all visible villagers because they were most certainly Nazi sympathizers. The mother of my periodontist emigrated to the U.S. in 1937, married, and continued her mitochondrial eve genetic development west of Hoboken, N.J.
My periodontist told me the story of how he discovered the prewar Polish address of his long dead aunt from old letters in the attic. He used this address to send a letter of introduction to relatives that, according to living second generation Polish emigres here in the United States, was non-existent. The old houses were gone, and all the family dead. He sent the letter anyway. And waited.
He got a response. It turns out that the Polish postal service does not work like ours. When it receives a letter, the letter gets delivered, or the entire human world goes to pot.
The mail man of the village could not locate the address but vaguely remembered the last name mentioned from when he was a boy living in a town 12 kilometers east of his route. On his day off he rode out to the town’s post office and handed off the letter. That postmaster never heard of the name, but after work, walked it over to the town elder statesman/historian. Ah-ha! Yes, she knew the name, but it had been lost and nearly forgotten. All of the men were wiped out in World War II, but some daughters survived, and remarried. He knew where to send it and did so. My periodontist was able to connect. He traveled to Poland in September to share stories with what turned out to be quite an extensive family network, all connected by their mothers to the name that was lost during the great second war.
There. An example of the human connection inspired by an effective bureaucracy thinking outside of the box.
My painting is also a human connection. It has no border crossing, no slaughtering armies, no bridges. Once in a while, in order for one painter to connect with another, he must bow to the state authority, to insure that his parcel get through to the right party. He pays the toll and expects that it isn’t too difficult for these two wealthy nations, extorting trillions of dollars from its peoples, to at least pretend to have the combined knowledge to implement successful parcel delivery.
It does not. My poor painter vote of no confidence is secure.