How Mail Works

I’ve had this post up my sleeve since we arrived and I’ve been saving it for a dull moment.

Guess what, it’s a dull moment.

We’re seriously ready for a break. Not just seeing family and friends, but also getting a much-needed seperation from the day-to-day struggles of life in Tajikistan. Just tonight we had a minor altercation with police that made my blood boil and got my adrenaline running.

Ok I’m getting off topic.

One thing that makes these daily annoyances easier is getting mail. About three times a week the mail room staff goes to the airport to pick it up. Seeing the cheerful “We Have Mail!” email is sometimes the highlight of my day. Especially if my name shows up in the DAO box (as it does almost daily).

Mail here is easy but complicated. To anyone who doesn’t know better, it looks like we live in Dulles, Virginia, when in reality that address is just a fancy way of saying “these people are overseas and all their mail goes to Dulles International Airport for the pouch.”

For a few months I didn’t understand why it’s called the “pouch.” I figured it was just slang, but once I saw it come in I understood. It’s LITERALLY a pouch. Think Santa’s sack but gray and much dirtier and not magical.

At Dulles, the pouch staff pack our packages away in a huge bag which is sealed with a drawstring and airlifted to us. That’s why things take 2-4 weeks to arrive once they’ve been “delivered.” These bags get routed all around the world before they make their way to Dushanbe. Sure, we’ve had some pouches get lost. I know at least twice they ended up in Africa.

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I send something to a friend or family member stateside and they tell me it arrives in two days. It’s shockingly fast after getting used to waiting for weeks.

But once things arrive it’s like Christmas. And I react the same way every time. Doesn’t matter if it’s toilet paper or dog food or spices or new makeup. I see the email and I near-sprint to the mail room to collect the goodies. Barkbox? Awesome! Dishwasher tabs? Say yes to sanitation! Kitty litter? FUCK YES NOW I CAN CHANGE THE LITTER BOX!

Really it’s about being tethered to the U.S. in some small way. Those little pieces of home go a long way in this unfamiliar place.

And yes, I’m talking about mail-ordering toilet paper because I’m not about to injure myself on the local alternative.

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