I HAZ SEEDZ!! Beth, Blessed be thy name among women! Amen. (Oh, and God bless Brad, too.)

     I sang long and loud when the package arrived. 2000 sweet peas, among other included gifts. The local dealers here sell peas, (which may or may not germinate,) for 20 cents apiece! I wish I were making that up, but I’m not. Two dollars for a pack of 10 peas: you do the math, in English or in Hebrew. Sucks to be stuck here if you don’t have a beautiful friend like Beth.

Ok, she done a nice thing. But you expected no less from our Xanga Heroine.
And so this post has to be about
Brad. Yeah, I mentioned him in the Title.
You have to understand that I’d completely given up on the seeds’ arriving. Six weeks had gone  by since Beth put them lovingly in the mail. My albeit meagre data-base for shipping-times had entries for ‘letter: 6 days’, and ‘package: 2 weeks’. After a month, the only question was what had gone wrong? A zealous postal-worker throwing them in the trash was the most likely scenario.

For one of two reasons:
1) The Israeli government’s desire to keep us safe from ‘invasive species’. (*muffled guffaw*)
Or, more likely:
2) Laws enacted to protect Israeli seed companies, and to ensure that the average yid will just
give up in disgust whenever he has the urge to create a backyard garden, thereby increasing the
profitability of the monopolistic vegetable marketeers.

    At any rate, I wasn’t expecting a Guest.
Innocently pruning broccoli near the chicken-house, I heard the guy’s voice: ‘Solberg?…”Yonatan?’ and of course flipped out. Hid behind the coop and peered
through the screen. See, anyone here who approaches you knowing your name can only be Trouble. Income Tax, Value-added tax, Municipal Enforcement, you don’t need much of an imagination. But this fellow, what I saw of him. looked ‘different’. Jeezuz, the muscles. I decided to take a chance.
“Ken. Ech l’azor ‘e’khah?” (‘Yes, how can I help you?’ I asked in Hebrew.
“Shalo-o-om” the guy said, drawing out the ‘O’ as only a non-native speaker does.
“Heyya, buddy.” I said then, warming up, and signaling that we can use a ‘normal’ language.
“Got something for you here.” he said, relieved, and handed me the package. I knew at once what it was, and felt a joy denied me since… since I fell off my bike two months ago.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe it!” I told him. He looked so tired, fatigued, and exhausted; I hoped my enthusiasm would cheer him up and motioned for him to have a seat, remembering suddenly, like any 3rd-rate robot that humans-of-class often offer hospitality to guests. He sat himself down with a move that looked for all the world as if it were the first time in a month.
And of course, as we talked, it turned out that this perception was not entirely unfounded.
Brad in fact was a contract-worker for, no, not the Israeli government but the United States Postal Service(!) Grew up in Towson , Maryland, a second-year student in Anthropology at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, he was working for the P.O. on the side to help with tuition.
“So,, they do the hand-off in Haifa?” I asked, trying as usual to pretend I knew more than I do about people’s jobs.
“No, Lancaster. The Atlantic leg started in Philly. same day.”
I had no idea what he was talking about.
“The Atlantic leg?” was all I could come up with.
“Yeah, to the Azores. Most of us stop there a day or so, you know, to rest up.”
“Rest up for what?” I asked, still not grasping  what I was hearing.
“For the hop to Gibraltar and the trans-Mediterranean run. Ok, I hung out in Ibiza awhile this trip. Sorry. I just felt I needed the break. We can take it off the bill, Yonatan.” Brad said, drinking my sad-sack coffee with real or feigned gusto.
“Wait a minute, Brad.” I interrupted, not used to being this in the dark, “You’re saying there’s a flexible flight connection there?” It seemed odd that my package of seeds would rate a personal courier, but I really wanted to hear the details.
“Flight? I swam, Solberg. You didn’t get that?”
I took a long time to ponder what I was hearing. ‘Swam’. Yes, that word in English usually does mean a guy, in the water, moving his arms and legs such as to stay afloat and even move forward. So yeah, ‘swim’. The guy swam. Right. I decided to like totally suspend disbelief. Whatever, I already had Beth’s seeds in my hot little hand.
“So, how was the Med-leg?” I asked, feeling disconcertingly like a counselor asking a troubled kid about his imaginary rabbit friend.
“Well, I had some trouble with the damn GPS around Cyprus. Battery wouldn’t stay connected. I used the rubber-band from the package in my hat to keep the dumb thing alive. Then I almost lost the payload coming into Haifa harbor.”
I felt, let’s call it ‘odd’. But the story, (and other details I shan’t reveal here), checked out. Still, it was a stretch. I had a few more questions:
“So from Haifa to here, how’d that go?”
Brad looked sheepish all of a sudden, and finally admitted:
“I took a bus.”
“Don’t blame you, guy. you musta been beat.”
“Yeah. Even though it felt like Rosie at the Marathon. Plus my time wasn’t ‘bad’, but it wasn’t major-league anyway. Thirty-nine days, eighteen hours to Haifa dock. My training pace shoulda put me here in 38, but I had heavy sea-ice off Greenland.”
“Sea-ice?” I asked, dumbfounded. “Why such a northern route?”
“It a great-circle. Lotta people don’t get that. Airlines fly the route every day, and for a good reason. It’s lots shorter, even though intuitively you’d think to just cut a ‘straight’ line across the Atlantic, on a map, you know.”
I was obviously dealing with a seasoned professional in the Int’l delivery business.
“And all this for eighteen bucks?” I asked him, feeling like an ass for mentioning it.
“Well, $17.89, actually, but the USPS takes ten percent.”
“A shame” I offered, not knowing what else to say. Brad looked like he was anxious to get moving.
“Got a Caribbean run next week. Wish I could stay here longer.”, he got up and stretched a bit.

I took an envious look at my courier. I mentioned muscles? Yeah, he has ’em in places I don’t
even have places. But I guess that’s his job.
“Good luck in school.” I told him when I left him out of the car at Netanya beach. The sea was calm, sun setting almost due west.
“You know the way?” I asked, sorta as a joke.
“Sure thing, buddy. Keep Venus five degrees to the left off your tail and you can’t miss.”
What a guy!


38 thoughts on “I HAZ SEEDZ!! Beth, Blessed be thy name among women! Amen. (Oh, and God bless Brad, too.)

  1. Roadkill_Spatula

    And the box doesn’t look wet at all. Amazing.When I was a kid in Colombia, we used to receive Christmas pound cakes in time for Easter. In Honduras I paid $12 to rescue a package of homemade cookies from Customs. They gave me a voucher that I had to pay at the nearest bank. A friend there was given a voucher for 12 cents in duty on a magazine. Rather than pay it, she snatched up the magazine and whisked out. I’m sure someone’s neck went on the block for that unpaid 12-cent voucher.Colombian air mail was reliable when I was a kid. We used the same P.O. box for nearly 30 years. Nowadays no one trusts the mail, and you have to pay $50 to DHL to send a document down.

  2. BoulderChristina

    I didn’t know you lived in Israel! And what an awesome guy, to swim that package for you! It sounded like the Great Race! 🙂 At any rate, I am glad your seeds arrived! Happy pea pickin’!

  3. Kellsbella

    You’re very clever, my luv, (chatting it up about Brad and all) but you’ve made one fatal mistake. We know where to find you and the weeds are on their way! Customs? No worries. G.’s got connections. We figure it’s about damn time you work as hard as the Floridians do pullin weeds. We’ll pay Brad extra to go spread em next to the peas.P.S. – Did you happen to get Brad’s number?

  4. jsolberg

    @Roadkill_Spatula – Interesting tales, Tim. Yes, the postal service is an obvious vulnerability in civil affairs. I paid $300 to rescue $500 from the customs thieves here once, and it took a half a day and three buses. Shoulda just taken Brad along.

  5. twoberry

    Gives a lot of new meaning to the word “appeasement.”  Congrats on the receipt, and on the wonderful tale.  I tried to hug a Federal Express delivery lady once, but she cut me off by saying her next delivery was guaranteed to be by 10 a.m. and it was getting late.

  6. jsolberg

    @Kellsbella – Yeah, his number, which he always wears on his back, is 847. It’s from his 2nd place finish in the Baltimore Ironman a couple years ago. As to weeds, that’s all I been doing last two days. We’re all a carpet of green here nearing the end of the rainy season. Even my weeds have weeds.

  7. Kellsbella

    @jsolberg –  Well, if he does the Ironman here and misbehaves, I’ll know exactly where to ship his bike. Look at the bright side; you can get exercise as you cycle up to your local farmer’s market for some weed killer…….

  8. jsolberg

    @twoberry – Yes, those sharp brown pants-suits, but part of the attraction is that they are always so busy, and if you catch one’s eye she won’t waste time with formalities. I imagine.Hadn’t thought about ‘appeasement’; nice word, it’s got peas in it. But also… well… guess we’re back to the Fed-ex girl.

  9. jsolberg

    @seedsower – Wow, so happy you showed up for the party in your honor, Beth. Those photo-cards you sent are realer-than-real! You can almost open and close the windows on the Daniel Boone house. Big thanks again.

  10. gnostic1

    A clever little piece. You have a marvelous ability to turn anything into a diverting tale. Lacking a Brad (who incidently looks as though he’s fussy about keeping his package protected) we usually just cast our seeds upon the water. Sometimes they come back but sometimes they don’t, especially if they meet a beaver going the same way..

  11. jsolberg

    @gnostic1 – Those damned beavers and their damned dams.What I tried to do here is to simply relate the story in down-to-earth terms, nice and straight-forward, except for one pesky little fact. Like, um, the limits of human endurance, metabolism, will-power, the limited lure of 17 bucks. Ok, maybe a *couple* little facts. Always a thrill to see you here, and read your own believe-it-or-nots. The thaw’s around the corner?

  12. xOne_twentyX

    I’ve heard things are pretty expensive over there, and that there are other ones you cannot find them there also, I don’t know, at least that’s what a former Israeli friend of mine told me once.

  13. jsolberg

    @xOne_twentyX – It’s a mix, as usual. Peas do cost 300X here, what you can find, but um… sand is cheap as sin. Oh, and the ones I’m guessing you might be referring to are in everybody’s pocket. Just ask.Nice to have you visit and read, and cheers to your friend/JS

  14. frtnr_mama

    Oh really!?!?  So I should work on my ironman thing instead of saving frequent flyer miles then!Er… well, ya know, nevermind.  It would kill my vacation time to be en route to my destination for 3 months…  *sigh*  Back to counting pennies and black out dates. 

  15. jsolberg

    @frtnr_mama – I decided to fantacize about the really olde dayz, when a package needed to be physically brought to the target by real humans. Before Fed-Ex. One way or another, the seeds are germinating as we speak, Gott sei-danke.

  16. MelFamy

    Your excellent readership has already used up all the ‘pea’ jokes. So, without irony, I say that, as expensive as vegetable seeds are in Israel, one might think twice before getting caught taking a pea in your garden.


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