well at least for a minute or two
One week ago Steve was sitting at his desk in the Australia Post International Mail Centre sorting through some of the 150 million parcels that come into the country each year. He was looking for something questionable. That's his job, after all.
In his 20 years of working in the Centre, his most exciting 'finds' have been parcels containing plants, soil, wood, seeds, nuts and animal products. These are all prohibited goods because they risk introducing some of the world’s most serious pests and diseases into the country.
As important as he knew these finds were to the country, Steve was always hoping... for something more.
Steve loves his job. He carefully x-rays every package that comes his way and he uses Sebastian, a Labrador cross detector dog, to identify anything 'suspect' and to find items that contain a certain 'odour'.
Last Tuesday, as Steve was sorting the mail, he noticed that Sebastian kept circling one package in particular. Around and around he went, in a mad and frenzied dance.
Steve quickly jumped from his seat, gave Sebastian a treat and picked up the package.
He examined it carefully. It was posted from South America.
He turned it over. And over again.
From Betty. In. Paraguay. To Lilly. In. Canberra.
“I-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g”, he muttered under his breath.
Something told Steve that this was going to be B-I-G. He could feel it. Even the hairs on his arms stood up in anticipation for what was to come.
Maybe, just maybe, this would be the big break he had been waiting for.
His mind started to wander. There were flashing images of guns, drugs, pink wigs and a shady underworld.
“Paraguay”, he murmured, “let me think. I know that’s the place that has long attracted Utopians dreaming of paradise but isn’t it also a major transit country for Andrean-soured cocaine?”
“Betty”, he said, shaking his head, “is more than likely just a cover for some Mr Big, with Colombian connections, who operates out of Ciudad del Este."
“And Lilly", he sneered, “is probably some machete wielding drug lord in the Nation’s Capital hiding behind some politician’s brazen bravado.”
He sat down at his desk, toying with the package for a while before slowly opening it.
Inside was a note. A Thank You note. From one 'blogger' to another.
“Blogger?” he said out loud, “Is this some kind of new fringe English for trafficker?"
He grew excited. Perhaps he had stumbled on a massive network of international ‘bloggers’ who were sending ‘suspicious’ packages from one country to another.
"These so called 'bloggers' are probably making the world a more dangerous place one package at a time. Well they're about to be busted!", he shouted to an ambivalent Sebastian.
He slowly pulled out a wrapped object from the padded package. And carefully unwrapped it as if it was an 1000 year old egg.
It was a beautiful wooden key holder.
That’s really top quality, he thought to himself.
But what was it hiding? And what did the name mean?
The note said the holder was 'made from Palo Santo which is only found in the Chaco'.Was that a special code for something more sinister, Steve wondered.
He lifted the holder closer. And breathed in deeply. It had a powerful, mystical aroma. One he had never come across before.
However, without another thought,
HE SNAPPED IT IN TWO. So certain was he of what he would find.
Except.........................................there was NOTHING. NOTHING!!!!!
No white powder, no termites, no bark, no insects, no larvae. Nothing.
A tinge of disappointment soured Steve's expression. He quickly repackaged the broken holder and note. He hurriedly inserted a leaflet into the packet to explain that the item, given it was wood, had been opened and inspected by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
He put the parcel in the collections tray and went back to processing the 10,234 other parcels he and Sebastian had to get through before they could call it a day.
However, he couldn't stop thinking...... about Betty and Lilly ......and wondering who the hell they really are .......and what the hell this 'blogging' caper is all about ....
Betty, A BIG THANK YOU FROM ONE BLOGGER TO ANOTHER. The parcel had an exciting journey it seems! I have never had AQIS examine anything ever before but they did it because it was made of wood apparently. This has to be the story behind it, surely. Bloody Steve! The bloggers werent busted but the key holder was! And a teensy tiny bit of glue was all it took to get it back into one piece. Yes, Australia has the tightest border controls in the world. I love the Palo Santa wood and love its aromatic incense and I read that it purifies and gets rid of evil spirits, misfortune and calamity. Let's see how powerful it is.
Note: Steve and Sebastion are fictional characters. Any resemblance to any persons or dogs working for AQIS is merely coincidental and is the result of the overactive imagination of a certain ‘blogger’. As for Betty and Lilly, well that is a whole other story...to be continued.