I am sure I have written about the mysterious knife in my possession. This morning I used it to spread my fig jam (yes, home made by me) on my toast, and it made me think of the knife's story. The story is also an example of something that happens in China. If you do the right thing, or show kindness and friendliness to someone, they will undoubtedly help you.
When I was in Shaoxing I went to the post office often - I would post parcels back to Australia from time to time, and it was during this strange process that I befriended two works in the post office. One was a lady who sold lottery tickets from a small desk that had no space other than the cash register, and space underneath. She sat here for hours on end selling her tickets and chatting with her customers and passers by. She was positioned almost in the the thoroughfare in the post office. In her quiet time she would open her English study book and read and try and learn English. I'd often call by and sit with her for 15 minutes or so answering her questions about English and conversing with her and helping with her pronunciation errors. We became friendly.
Only a few feet away was 'the box man' - he looked after the cardboard boxes, so if I needed to send items to Australia I could not wrap them, but I would take them in a plastic bag to the box man, and he would select the right size box for me, and I would take it to the desk opposite where the girl would look through all my items and if approved, she would seal the box, weigh it, and give me forms to complete (customs, list of contents, details of receiver etc.) and when I paid I would leave the box and hope that it arrived back in Australia. I must say I had 100% success rate. Everything turned up.
When I had arrived in China I had to buy all my utensils and most I left behind but there was a cutlery set - one knife, one fork, one dessert spoon, and a teaspoon, that I purchased early on and I loved the set and at the end of my tour - I decided to include them in a parcel back to Australia. The goods were duly packed in the box, but the girl behind the counter found the knife and said it could not go. "We cannot send knives in boxes." I protested but she took it out. The box man came to listen to my protests, and quietly observed my argument that a knife in a box was not going to do any damage to anyone or anything. It wasn't a sharp knife and would have trouble doing damage to a block of butter!
The knife was put on the counter. I subsequently filled out the paperwork, the box was sealed, I paid my dues and then looked for the knife. At least I could take it with me in my luggage. But it was nowhere to be seen. It appeared that someone had taken it. I shrugged. No big deal. And went on my way.
Can you imagine my surprise when my box of goodies arrived back in Australia, a few weeks after I had done so, and when unpacking I found the knife. I can only guess that the box man surreptitiously had slipped the knife into my box. I'd love to thank him, but of course I cannot.
I remember him when I went back to China on my third 'tour of duty' - he had been excited to see me and called out across the post office in a loud voice "Adalia" - Australia!!! He had remembered me from my previous time there some 12 months before. I guess I am not difficult to remember - tall and blonde, but it did surprise me.
Now, I have my knife, fork, spoon and teaspoon - and I will always remember the man in the post office. Xie Xie.