As you may recall, I have pledged to get rid of 80% of my stuff. Since that time, I have been making slow but steady progress by defining decluttering areas, breaking down types of items in those areas, and determining ahead of time how to dispose of the different items. I have been using mind-maps to do this, and have found them to be an incredibly useful tool. I’ll be writing more about mind-mapping and its applications in later posts.
But today I want to write about something that happened this week, that made me sad and angry, and how that something led to something else that made me happy.
I have been selling some of my things on eBay. I have sold porcelain trinket boxes, children’s toys, backpacking supplies, running shoes – all sorts of items. Thursday night, I came home and spent an hour or more carefully boxing up for shipping the items that had sold that week. There were a couple of collectible, and breakable, items, so I had to thoroughly wrap them in bubble wrap, and make sure there was plenty of newspaper padding in the boxes. Then, I had to weigh each package to calculate postage, purchase and print a mailing label and packing slip, and attach the mailing label to the box. It’s rather time consuming, but that’s OK – my stuff is getting a new home and I am getting paid!
I went online to schedule a pickup from the post office for my four packages. And when I left for work Friday morning, I placed them out on the table under the mailbox on our front porch. No one in our neighborhood has mail boxes at the sidewalk; they are all the kind that are attached to the house. While quaint, they are not big enough for outgoing packages. Also, the boxes being on the house is quite a workout for our mail carriers!
Usually when a package is picked up, they scan it and I get an email confirmation. By the middle of the afternoon, I hadn’t gotten one. My husband got home around 1:00 pm, and he said that the packages were gone when he arrived. I thought maybe the carrier just hadn’t scanned them right away, so I waited, but I felt inside that something was wrong.
Finally, around 3:30 pm, I called our local post office. As it turns out, our carrier had just returned, and he told me that when he went to make the pickup, there was nothing there. My packages had been STOLEN off of my front porch before the carrier ever arrived!
I was devastated! I didn’t care about the monetary value of the items. I had no problem with refunding everyone’s money. And I knew that I could get a refund on the shipping. But I knew that whoever stole the packages would find nothing of value in them. It was knick knacks and collectibles. They would likely just toss them in the trash, and that broke my heart.
Even though these were items that I was getting rid off, someone had wanted them. I sold them on eBay, rather than just donating them because I wanted them to go to someone who would appreciate them. It made me so sad to think these things that were wanted would just be castoff as worthless! And it made me angry that some a#%$&*^ had just come up on our porch and stolen our property.
Before I left work for the day, I went online and emailed the buyers and told them what had happened. I went into PayPal and refunded their payments. I went into eBay and cancelled the shipping labels. I called the police department and filed a report. No one was out any money for what had happened, except for the small cost of tape and brown paper for preparing the packages for shipping. But I was still sad.
My husband and I discussed the situation on the way home. When he had arrived home that day, he said that he had a weird feeling that something was wrong. When he went in, he said our kitties were acting skittish and nervous, and sticking pretty close to him. Our front door is visible to probably seven of our neighbors, so it was unsettling that someone could come on our porch, gather up several packages, and walk away without anyone noticing.
When we arrived home, we decided to check around the outside of the house. Maybe the packages had blown off the porch. Maybe someone picked them up and dumped them in a trash can as a prank. Then, my husband got the idea to check in the park across the street. He headed off across the street while I changed shoes. When I arrived in the park a few minutes later, he had located the stolen packages.
Someone had stolen them off the porch, carried them to the park, ripped each box open and unwrapped the contents, then dumped them in the trash. We found all four packages – three items in one trash can, and one item in another. Nothing was damaged or even dirty, in spite of sitting in a trash can. Everything was wet, since it was raining, but other than that unharmed.
We carted everything home and I began to clean up the items and inspect them for damage. There was none. Lucky for us, the person who was not above stealing mail off our porch drew the line at wantonly destroying the items when he or she found out the boxes weren’t full of iPhones and DVDs.
I emailed all the buyers again and told them the good news. I had already refunded their money, so I told them to not worry about payment, just consider the items a gift. I cleaned everything up and repackaged it carefully, then printed new shipping labels.
And this is the good part: each buyer emailed me to say thank you, to tell me that they were sorry that I had to go through all that, and offered to pay. But the best part was that they told me why they had bought the items in the first place. One woman told me that the Disney character figurine that she had purchased was for her daughter, who was a huge fan of that particular movie. Another woman told me that the trinket box in the shape of a sewing machine that she had purchased was for her grandmother, who was in the hospital, and who used to sew for them all the time. And the man who bought some camping supplies said that he was headed out on a big trip and was so thrilled to be getting them.
In the end, I told everyone that they didn’t have to pay, even when they offered. I was truly overjoyed to know that items that I had loved were going to people who would also love them, and treasure them like I had done. That knowledge was worth more to me than any money. And I never would have known those stories if some jerk had stolen the packages off my front porch.
P.S. Saturday morning, I hand-delivered my repackaged items to the post office. When I told them the story of how we had recovered the items, they were tickled pink for me. I will be personally dropping off my shipments at the post office from now on.