2013 has not, to this point, been a particularly lucky year for this blogger and those close to me. It has been lucky in the sense that the things that have gone wrong could have gone wrong worse than they did - a whole lot worse, in fact! - so I'm thankful that nothing really disastrous has eventuated.
Still, it hasn't been all beer and skittles.
For a minor wargaming example, I'd heard that the USPS shipping rates would go up significantly at the end of January, and so decided to put in a couple of orders for some essential 'would likes' (note the wargamer's oxymoron there!) before the prices jumped. However, since we were going to New Zealand for my brother's wedding at the end of January, I knew I would not be around to collect the parcels. I therefore arranged to have them sent to my wife's uncle and aunt's house instead of our place.
As we were driving back from the airport on our return to Japan I remarked to my wife that it was nice to have a couple of parcels to look forward to to offset the inevitable low that accompanies a return to normal life after a couple of weeks of relaxed conviviality.
My wife gave me a funny look.
It turned out that in the rush to organize the kids for the trip she'd not told her relatives to expect any parcels from the US, and I'd not reminded her, feeling that it was best to not bother her long-suffering self with extra pressure.
No problem, we thought. They are bound to have them there.
When we got home my wife called her aunt to apologize for not telling her about the shipping arrangement and to ask if the parcels had arrived. Her aunt said that they had indeed had a strange parcel arrive from the US, but not having any English, they hadn't known what it was. They'd kept it there unopened, but upon the arrival of a second parcel, they'd begun to get worried, thinking that it might be some kind of scam. They'd then called the police, and the officer had advised them to return the parcels to the post office.
This they had done the day before we arrived back in the country.
We made a quick call to the local post office to see if they had the parcels there, which saw us redirected to Osaka, then redirected to the returned mail office somewhere up north, and then to a man who told us very nicely that he was sorry but there was not a snowball's chance of him being able to find our parcels amongst all of the other ones there, even if he had the time to look, which he didn't, and neither would we, if we got the volume of returned mail he did, and the number of idiots calling about getting it back.
Well, I could understand his point of view, so we had a laugh about it, and as a last resort I sent off a couple of emails to the companies I'd bought from explaining what had happened and asking them to contact me if the packages ever returned, which I thought unlikely. One company replied to commiserate, and from the other there was nothing.
Three months passed, with no further news.
In the meantime, I'd had a chance to do someone a good turn. By thinking about someone else for a change my attitude slowly moved from "What a crap year this is turning out to be!" to "Stop moaning to yourself, get off your backside, make some changes, and do something to improve things".
And things did begin to improve.
By this time a fourth month had passed and, on a whim, I decided to call up Old Glory 15s just in case they had any news.
I got a helpful chap called David on the phone and sheepishly explained what the situation was. Had they had anything like that arrive?
"Hmmm, that rings a bell", he said. "Give me a minute."
"Yes," he said, "we got the package. Just pay for the shipping and we'll get that order back off to you by the end of the week."
After this bit of unexpectedly good news I immediately called the second company, NWS online gaming store.
"Sorry buddy", said Christopher, "we've had nothing come through."
Oh well, I thought. Even finding one of them is better than I'd anticipated, and I told my wife the good news.
Next day, there was an email from Christopher. "We've found your order chit", it said. "It was returned to us after all."
So, there we are. All's well that ends well, and it's nice to have the orders on their way, thanks to some great work by the post offices concerned and the very helpful folk at oldglory15s and NWS.
By way of a postscript, the upswing in fortune seems to be continuing, but more on that another time...