Yes, this package of white powder is mine

Last week I received a summons from the local post office, informing me I must present myself at their offices within an appointed deadline. The card had rubber stamps and a signature and even a RED rubber stamp, which in Italy is downright scary.

Our main post office is in the western wing of the barracks of the Carabinieri, the Italian military police. Both buildings are made from reinforced concrete – by which I mean SOLID reinforced concrete, with no windows – surrounded by a ten-foot high metal fence made from cast iron and topped with spikes (which probably have some kind of nerve toxin smeared on them nightly) and can only be accessed via a long walkway.

It is raised high in the air and snakes all around the building, making sure snipers from the Carabinieri will have abundant opportunities to pick off anyone carrying a Jiffy bag that looks suspicious. An iffy Jiffy.

Ah, but is that REALLY a hairdryer?

 

There are also graphically illustrated signs along the fence, saying any vehicle parked too close by will be destroyed in a controlled explosion and its driver will be electrocuted by something very zig-zaggy.

Well, off I went along the parapet of death, looking out for tiny red dots about my torso cast by the light of a laser from a sniper rifle as my official postcard quivered in my hand. It took me quite some time to locate the door, which was rather like the entrance to a bank vault. I needed the help of two men to get it open.

The lady at the desk threw me into a gibbering flummox. She was very pretty with long curly hair, stylish clothes and a moustache. I don’t just mean she was a bit late for her appointment at the beautician, I mean she could have run away to join a circus. It made my mind go completely blank and I handed her my rubber-stamped card without a word.

She took it scarily, wandering off to remove a plastic bag from a large metal cupboard which she opened using a key hanging on a tape around her neck. She plonked the bag on the desk between us. Inside it was a parcel, with my name and address on it, which had burst open and had white powder pouring out of it. She removed it from the plastic evidence bag, making clouds of white powder fill the air.

jolie
The world’s most beautiful post office worker?

 

What was going on? Was I being framed for smuggling cocaine and about to be taken next door in manacles?

“ID card,” she ordered, and I complied. She photocopied my ID card and put it in a manila folder along with the rubber-stampy summons card.

“This is addressed to you. What is this white powder?” she asked, “and who sent it to you?”

What the heck was it? I had no clue. I toyed with the idea of asking if they wanted to bring in some sniffer dogs, but they way her moustache was quivering intimidated me so I decided to be serious.

 

“Can I take a closer look?” I asked, timidly.

Knowing the Italian postal system, it could be something I ordered several years ago and had forgotten all about. She nodded her consent, then started fiddling around her midriff. Was she unfastening her gun holster? Apparently she was just having a little tussle with her pantyhose.

I pulled the parcel open, poked about in the powder and found fragments of a big jar among the mess.

“Oh!” I screamed in delight when I had figured it out. “It’s calcium powder for my little boy! He’s allergic to milk and he chokes on tablets, so I ordered calcium powder online!”

Her eyes narrowed.

“Over two months ago,” I added accusingly, narrowing my own eyes.

I showed her part of the jar with the label stuck on it. I wondered if she was going to taste a tiny sample on the end of her finger like a TV cop. She stared at the label for a long, pregnant pause.

“Good,” she said. “Please take it away.”

So I did.

“Sorry about the mess,” I added, as she dredged the powder off the desk in order to serve the next customer.

I have just ordered a replacement calcium supplement which is a thick, sticky syrup. I wonder if they’ll pack that one properly? I don’t want to get arrested for receiving illegal nitroglycerin.

 

 

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26 thoughts on “Yes, this package of white powder is mine

  1. When my friend went to Egypt I had him put a few spoons of sand from the Great Pyramid site in a baggie as my gift from his trip. I’ll allow you to speculate the affair he had with Egyptian customs leaving and US customs entering. It was quite an ordeal !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! That reminds me of a friend (a lawyer no less) who brought home some herbal tea that she had been drinking for the entire duration of her holiday in Ecuador. It was only when intercepted at customs with a large bag of the stuff from some mountain market that she found out it was cocaine leaves!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can appreciate that. All the packages sent by my parents, from NY to a small town in northern Italy when I lived there many years ago had been opened, sadly with many things missing. Consider yourself fortunate to have received the package!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. But before they stamp it they will tell you it already has the “wrong” stamp on it and that you have to pay extra, and this is why you will be travelling from Milan to London via Bangkok because it is impossible to change it now.
        And don’t forget that everything will close at 12-30 so you have to queue again tomorrow if you haven’t checked in by then.

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  3. Excellent! Had my own ‘white powder’ experience in Sicily many years ago. Stopped at a train station and asked to unpack my backpack. Carabinieri eyes lit up when they discovered my small bag of washing powder. That was an hour well spent, in the back room of a half-abandoned train station, explaining in non-existent Italian that they were welcome to sniff it and see.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have not had an experience with “white powder”, but must note good old Alitalia’s penchant for “holding the line” with American tourists. When we visited Sicily last September, we “carried on” small carryons which were allowed on Alitalia as we transferred from Fumicino to Catania. However, 2 weeks later, the ticket agent would not allow our carryons on the flight from Palermo to Fumicino. They were deemed “too heavy” despite the fact that the people in front of us and behind who carried on enormous bags. We had to check our bags, and good old Alitalia lost my sister-in-laws bag between Palermo and Fumicino. We discovered that as soon as we hit US customs in Toronto!!! A week later, she did receive her bag minus some costume jewelry…
    I will never fly Alitalia again, but there were no connecting flights after 15 September on Easy Jet or one of the other carriers. Not mentioning the dirty restrooms and very rude staff even though I speak fairly fluent Italian…

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    1. I’ve seen a lot of outrageous discrimination like this on flights in and out of Sicily. It seems if you are Sicilian you can take an elephant wrapped in brown paper on board, whereas foreigners have to check in their wallet and wrist watch. I feel very lucky to have my hubby around to talk to them in Sicilian….

      At London airports they seem to be consistently scary and mean to everyone, and often rude as well.

      Though try being a foreigner coming through immigration and customs at JFK in New York!!! They send foreigners through a different channel, where there are vast numbers or armed people in uniform and – I am not kidding – you have to solemnly declare you are not entering the USA with the intention of committing genocide, starting a war with biological weapons or other acts of terrorism etc. The first time I went in there was an apple core in my bag, and for a few minutes I feared I might end up in Guantanamo Bay!!!
      Looking back it’s hilarious, but at the time I was petrified.

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  5. Where on earth did you find a picture of Angelina Jolie wearing a moustache AND with what appears to be white powder smeared on her face?!?
    Or did you in fact find that picture and then write this entire story based upon it?! ;o)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah ha!!! My Photoshopping skills are coming on in leaps and bounds! She had a white powder make-up debacle at some film premiere and I simply added the moustache!

      BTW I didn’t make up any of this story. Every single detail is true! I promise to take you to the Paramilitary Post Office next time you visit. 🙂

      Like

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