We waited so long for the container and then to open it to find this. It was disheartening to say the least. I might have hid in the kitchen and cried. A corner of the kitchen because there are so many windows in this house, there are very few hiding spots.

Our container sat in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for a month. Every box was opened and examined. I know this because the bright green tape can be found on every box.

And then, as far as I can tell, they put it all back in the container in the reverse order. Stuff that was on top took its turn at the bottom of the heap.

For awhile, it just got worse as it was unloaded.

My favorite was this box marked “H.V.” for high value. All crystal and glassware. I couldn’t decide if I should open it from the top or just go in the way Customs did …


Shockingly enough, nothing was broken in this box.

And for how the container looked when we opened it, surprisingly little was broken — a few glass items, a rug was ripped at the end, several baskets and lampshades crushed. A couple irreplaceable were broken — a childhood lamp that I’ve dragged around for 40 years (time to let it go!) and art tiles we loved.

We felt lucky that that was all the physical damage.

Agents of my own country did this. It is hard not to take it as an insult. I know it’s not. Just overworked government agents trying to do their job.

And as far as bureaucratic insults go, this is minor. So very minor.

It still stung.

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