I had been waiting on a letter for weeks. Mom had told me that she had penned a few updates about home. I checked my mailbox daily, but found it empty most of the time – except the occasional commercials, of course. I wasn’t surprised, however, that the letter hadn’t completed its journey after some five weeks.
The reason for that needs some explaining.
What is the main criterion for paper purchases? Right, it should be as inexpensive as possible. But when someone dives into the ancient world of fountain pens and liquid writing ink, the rules of the game change.
Most inexpensive paper products have one characteristic in common – poor paper quality. To be fair, as long as ballpoints or pencils are used, no one will notice that.
But laying down lines with liquid ink makes the difference clear. The ink bleeds through to the back of the side – making it impossible to utilize both sides of a sheet of paper. And the line spreads, which makes for a very unpleasing visual experience.
However, there are still companies out there that care about fountain pens and paper quality. And although most of them are based in Europe, it’s actually much easier to get hold of such items from U.S. retailers. That increases when we are talking about purchasing writing ink in bottles.
So, while still being in Germany, I had ordered some paper and ink samples from a U.S. online retailer. It wasn’t the first time. It shouldn’t take longer than five to 10 days for a package to make its way over the Atlantic.
Five weeks had passed before I had a notice from customs in the mail, telling me that I could pick up a package at our local customs office. With such small orders, packages shouldn’t be kept there, but all right.
I was, however, quite surprised to find myself confronted with questions about the nature of the colorful fluids contained in small plastic vials.
When did it happen that people stopped coming in contact with fountain pens?
I explained to the customs officer, that what she saw were samples of different writing inks and a few inexpensive fountain pens. The ink samples could be used with those pens, but they could also be used with every other fountain pen. So, they were not necessarily tied to those specific pens.
She seemed skeptical, almost as if I had shown her moon rocks. But she was satisfied and completed the paperwork.
With that experience in mind, I’m no longer surprised to experience delays in the delivery process of letters or packages between Europe and America.
But when I found this lovely postcard in my mailbox, I was surprised.
It originates from Sylt, a small island in the North Sea. My parents had just returned from a one week vacation on that island – meaning the card had completed it’s journey in record time.
It was a surprise that made me smile.
As for the card, it shows a seagull that represents the director of the tourist board. The little guy sends greetings to the reader. Being typical creatures for that part of Germany, they are often utilized to advertise for such islands, resorts, or individual restaurants or hotels.
Thanks, Fiete, I enjoyed seeing your surprise greetings in my mailbox.