Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Homeland Security footnote

Real Live Preacher: I mailed one of my books to Canada today, my little part in an interesting drama that involved several people trying to get a book to Bene Diction. Long story. You can read about it on Bene's blog if you want. Anyway, I showed up at my local UPS store thinking I would drop the book in the mail and be done in a minute or two. No sir. I was there for thirty minutes while the UPS store employees tried to work through the new, 'safer' mailing regulations for packages sent to Canada. I guess it has something to do with "Homeland Security."
First, there was a complex form to fill out for the government. In quadruplicate, no less. They wanted to know everything about me and the book. Second, there was a similar form for UPS so that they could act as my shipping agent in this dangerous endeavor. I had to describe the book, weigh it, tell them exactly why I was sending it, and even include Bene's friends' home phone number for some reason. I also had to fill out something that instructed UPS about what they should do if the book was not deliverable. The cost of mailing it back to me was so expensive that I selected, "Abandon the package if it cannot be delivered."

It gets worse...
A UPS store employee pushed a complex contract in front of me and asked me to sign it. It was a limited power of attorney giving UPS some kind of power over my life in the event that they need it for unspecified reasons. Sure I could have read the whole thing and brought it to a lawyer, but I'm way too lazy for stuff like that, so I signed it just because I wanted to go home.
I don't think you can make this stuff up.

Narcotics by the ton can get in but it's a challenge to mail a book out of the country.

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