(A little side note on the shipping -- let's just say that everyone gets their own pie. Not a piece of the pie, but their own personal, big, whopping pie. For example, the freighter bringing the cargo across the ocean gets cherry pie. The company that received the freighter gets apple pie. And the warehouse -- the people who eventually hold your property hostage until you jump through the proper number of hoops in the proper order -- they get a mixed berry pie with a crumble crust.)
So, my books showed up in Oakland about a week and a half ago. (This is after I've already made the cherry pie.) My friend G, who helped me order the books, calls to tell me the books have arrived, and it's time to make the apple pie for the receiving company. Once they receive the pie, he'll call me.
G calls me Thursday morning about 9 am -- apparently my apple pie had arrived and was to everyone's liking -- and needs to me to drop everyone and drive to Oakland to pick up the books, or risk having to make even more pies. Yes, the warehouse requires individual cobblers for every day that your cargo remains in their possession. I had meetings all morning and didn't get his message until lunch time. I don't think G realized that I worked. Who knows that he thought I do all day. Anyway, I fortuantely have The Best Boss in the World. He completely understands how important these books are to me, and gives me leave to drop everything and leave work. (Did I mention BEST Boss in the World?)
I call my mother (because adventures in Oakland's port culture are always more exciting when one is accompanied by her mother) and 45 minutes later we are speeding toward Oakland (or as fast as speeding is possible in North Bay traffic). I am armed with my passport, which I will need to free my books from the warehouse.
Just to be clear, when G called me, all he said was that I had to come and pick-up my books. I figured it would take 30 minutes or so.
Wrong. We arrived at the warehouse and have to stand in line. The girls processing paperwork are more interested in chatting with each other than actually working (and how can they truly work with fingernails 2 inches long? It's still a mystery to me). They do whatever it is they have to do with my paperwork, then tell me I have to go to customs and clear my packages.
Oh, yes, the customs office. It's about 20 miles down the road. If the lines are too long, you won't make it back in time, and you'll have to come back tomorrow to get your packages -- and don't forget to bring the cobblers! One for every day your packages sit on our floor.
G and Mom get back into the my car, and we plow through commute hour traffic on 880 and manage to find the customs office. Luckily, there was no line. There's a question and answer period, and they process my paperwork.
Back to the warehouse, again through grueling commute traffic, watching the clock tick by, hoping we make it in time.
We get to the warehouse with about 15 minutes to spare. We have to hang around and wait -- there isn't a line this time, but all the girls who process paperwork have mysteriously disappeared. The only girl who does sit at one of the windows has her window blocked off and studiously ignores everyone.
When someone at last shows up to take the customs papers, I am informed that I now owe the warehouse a mixed berry pie with crumble topping. And they don't take checks or credit cards -- Cash is King down in the Oakland port, apparently. And I just don't carry that amount of cash on me, ever.
(Did I mention that the warehouse charges you just to stand and breath in their space? Okay, sightly exagerating here. But take this example: it's $35 to get the forklift to bring you your pallet to the loading dock. If they drive down the loading dock ramp to the parking lot, it's an additional $35 -- on top of all the other fees they have.)
Here's the part where my mother saves the day. I turn to her, like a dutiful daugter, and say, "Mom, do you have any money I can borrow?" Like I'm 16 again, except that I don't even care anymore. Mom doesn't carry that kind of cash on her either -- except that 6 years ago, when she retired, a friend of hers gave her a lucky lycee (red envelope that Chinese use to give people money) with $100. My mom has carried that lycee in her wallet for SIX years! When she got a new wallet about a year ago, she transferred the lycee from the old to the new.
She whips out the lucky lycee (aka Raggedy Chan's bail bond). With the little cash she and I had, there was just enough to spring Raggedy Chan out of the warehouse lock-up.
And here are the books, piled in boxes in the back of my car:
And here's me, proud mother of the Raggedy Chan books:
It's just so interesting how life works out. I mean, my mom carried that lycee for SIX years. And if my mom's friend hadn't given it to her -- if Mom hadn't retired and gotten the gift -- we wouldn't have had enough money to *free* Raggedy Chan.
Mom gave me the lucky lycee, which is now hanging on my bulletin board. We like to call it RC's bail bond fund.
And did I mention my BOOKS ARE HERE?? Just in time for my release party in the few weeks.
For those of you who can't make it to the party, Raggedy Chan can also be purchased here.