During my time in Yokohama, I bought a ‘few’ things. So I went to the post office a ‘few’ times to send these things back home. I needed to do this fairly regularly so in order to limit the cost, I sent my packages by ship. It took 3 months to get back to the UK but I wouldn’t be back until much later so I didn’t care about when it arrived.
A lot can happen in 3 months.
One Saturday morning I head out early to pay some bills and get some food, but as I enter the foyer, a lady from reception calls me over.
“We got a call from the post office about something you sent” she explained, looking very anxious.
“Oh, is there a problem?”
“Yes. The package you sent by ship…it was attacked by pirates”.
Now, my Japanese isn’t perfect so I just knew I had misheard this part. I ask some questions but I hear pirates again so I know I’m not catching the correct meaning. So naturally I smile and ask politely if she could write it down for me (so that I could check it over with a dictionary later). She promised to do so and I headed off to carry on my errands, chuckling at myself for hearing such a ridiculous thing.
At the post office I was paying my rent (this is a thing in Japan) when a gentleman behind the counter called me over. He sent my packages every weekend for me so we became close enough to exchange friendly conversation.
“Excuse me. I’m afraid I have some bad news about your packages”
“Yes I heard something this morning. What happened?”
Of course, because that’s the most natural thing cause to bring up in a conversation. I keep hearing 海賊, which is the word for pirate but I was convinced I misheard it. Perhaps there’s another similar sounding word in Japanese.
Back at the dormitory, the rest of the staff and the landlady are lying in wait for me. They explain again about the pirates and I’m as confused as ever. Right until they hand me a news article printed off the CNN website. Somalian pirates in the Indian ocean had indeed attacked a cargo ship, taking all valuables before sinking it. So where was the package I had sent? It was one of two places. Either those pirates dug through everything and found my book-off merchandise and decided to learn Japanese from them, or they were currently under the sea. As far as I know, they’re still under the sea along with the wreck.
When I told Kara, and she realised I wasn’t joking, she cracked her ribs with laughter, as you’d expect of any comforting friend. Tamu didn’t understand at all, and kept gesturing to my sarcasm sign which remained firmly entrenched in my breast pocket. Elodie looked as though she would die after I explained the news, joining Kara on the floor in a pool of tears and screeching giggles.
“It’s incredible! Your packages are under the sea?”
“Yes that’s right”
“Under the sea! Do do do do do” she sang, skipping along to the little mermaid tune. “La vie sous la mer c’est bien mieux que sur la terre, je te le diiiiissss”
Thank you Elodie. Please shut up now before I drown you. Even now I’m amazed by the odds. There might be as little as a 1% chance of a pirate ship ever attacking something you send and somehow the law of averages allowed this to happen to me. Of course, I did send as many as 100 packages by ship so I guess one missing was to be expected.
“Did you buy any kind of insurance for it before you sent it off?” Kara asked when she finally stopped laughing enough to get off the floor.
“Sure. But I don’t know if it covers pirate attacks”.
So was this affair forgotten with time? A terrible tragedy befallen on a friend? Alas no. Move on a further 4 months to a karaoke booth and Elodie is leading the chorus:
“Sous l’océan, sous l’océan! Doudou c’est bien mieux, Tout l’monde est heureux, Sous l’ocean! Poncho’s packages are under the sea!!!!”