Maybe a lack of foresight on my part, but it never occurred to me that the paperwork on shipping my books and household items would be so labyrinthine, so complicated and requiring such unrelated information. I was almost tempted to ask the shipping representative this morning if he would be needing my mother’s maiden name and perhaps my high school locker combination. What a mess of paperwork!
About ten minutes after the man arrived I began to get the feeling it was going to be hard going, not only following the rapid fire and finely detailed Japanese instructions, but following through on the complete list without a mistake even more so. Granted I can be impatient at times, and I did begin to hope the man would just leave the papers and cut short his spiel on the rules of international shipping. Despite his long explanation, he was a model of polite friendliness, even suggesting at one point that I not hurry so on the paperwork, since he was very busy with other shipments and a few days time would be fine.
As I already knew, the cost of a shipment by sea is determined by the amount of cubic meters the shipped items add up to, all loaded by forklift into a container. My shipment comes to 3.5 cubic meters which sounds like not an especially large amount. When I saw the ascending scale of charges I have to admit to being a little surprised. Ship 20 cubic meters and you’re looking at a charge of $15,000. My modest shipment of 3.5 cubic meters will cost $4,000 including the insurance. The more you ship, the better the rate is.
For the next couple of days I will work at filling out the papers and making all the necessary copies of my passport, my Japanese visa, my plane ticket and my flight information. What I didn't mention to the man who came today was that it’s going to be difficult for me to describe the contents of all 30 boxes I am shipping. There are a lot of books and those boxes are easy to identify, but many boxes contain a combination of things I can’t clearly recall, since they were packed two or three weeks ago, without noting each item enclosed. I expect it’s going to prove something of a headache.