In the grand scheme of things in life, this most assuredly was not a big deal, but let me share with you a problem I had with a Christmas gift for my children and nephews. The gift almost didn’t happen, and came together hastily on Christmas Eve.
First, a little history. When my brother and I were young children, my grandmother gave us each a toy monkey, that apparently was all the rage in the late 1960s. Mine was named Joe, and Chris’ stuffed simian was named Moe. No one seems to remember where the names came from, but there were some stooges in that era with those very monikers. Joe and Moe were our constant companions and went wherever we did. I vividly recall my brother hurling Moe out the car window on the highway during a toddler tantrum, and yes, we did go back and retrieve it from the roadside.
My brother, either Joe or Moe, and yours truly
We eventually outgrew our beloved apes and our primate playmates vanished. My mother said after years of use they were pretty nasty and therefore didn’t make it into her attic with our Dr. Seuss books, Lionel trains, and Fisher Price farmhouse for the next generation to enjoy. But we always remembered them.
Feeling nostalgic, this year I decided to search on the internet to see if these monkeys were still sold, so I could get them for my kids and my nephews. It turns out those monkeys we loved were actually chimpanzees, now marketed as “cheerful chimpanzees.” After covering the Stamford case on the news, cheerful isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind when I think of chimpanzees, but what the heck, it’s a toy.
On December 13th I ordered four of the cheerful chimps with an expected arrival date of December 16th. Perfect timing. Kara and I decided two of the chimps would be named Joe and Moe, of course, and the others would be called Flo and Beau. My daughter is the only girl of the House grandchildren, and Flo is a suitable name for a toy that would likely be dressed in pink and pearls. Kara planned to sew red nametags to match the chimps’ suspenders.
By the 20th the retro monkeys hadn’t arrived and when I tracked them we learned the monkeys were being shipped back to the company because they were “undeliverable.” For whatever reason, our zip code on the shipping label was a digit off in the last number. Kara called the company and was told not only were the monkeys now sold out, the ones we paid for were somewhere in transit. Return items are not tracked and they were not expected to arrive back at the company until after Christmas. To put it mildly, we were not cheerful.
The company did tell us at last check the chimps destined for the House household were at the massive postal facility adjacent to the main Hartford post office. I headed there after the 11PM news on the night of the 20th hoping our delivery was there. The supervisor there was extremely helpful, but was not optimistic. With hundreds of thousands pieces of mail being processed there, and no tracking of returns, I might just have to wait it out. I was also told I might want to check with the post office that serves the incorrect zip code on the package. The folks there were also more than willing to assist. They remembered the package, and remembered it being sent back. Who knew that one digit in a zip code could be so detrimental to a delivery. Both zip codes were in the same city!
I looked on-line and luckily found four of the cheerful chimps available at the Vermont Country Store. I ordered them overnight and they arrived on Christmas Eve.
The kids loved them and cheerfully took part in a game of monkey drop. The four cousins went to the second floor of my mother’s house and on the count of three, dropped their chimps to the living room below. Nana was not cheerful about the sound of rubber monkey skulls hitting the wall and floor.
By the way, the original order of monkeys still has not arrived at the factory, and my refund still has not been processed. Maybe they had the zip code wrong.
Also, those nametags were crafted by Helena and Julian’s former pre-school teacher, who does amazing embroidery work and personalized baby gifts, like bibs, burp cloths, etc. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org