I foolishly mentioned to an acquaintance recently that I was paying a short visit to Israel. “Oh”, she said in pleasant surprise, as if she’d just won a ten pound prize in the lottery, “where are you staying?”
“Herzelia” I replied, “why?”
“Would you mind taking something for me?”
“A pleasure,” I smiled, “what is it?”
“It’s a sock”.
“Yes, a sock,” my soon to become former acquaintance explained. “My daughter was over a few months ago and she left a sock. She only lives in Netanya. It’ll be no problem for her to collect it from wherever you’re staying”.
“Why don’t you post it?” I said, wishing to be neither unhelpful nor burdened by such a triviality.
“Oh, you know”.
No, I didn’t know. I had absolutely no idea why anyone would choose to send a sock by personal courier, with the recipient being forced to travel from one town to another to collect it. My suspicion is that what is going on is that my friend is living back in the 1950’s when it took several weeks to send something to Israel with no guarantee of it ever arriving, and so when she hears that someone is going to Israel (which is approximately every fortnight), she scours her home in order to find something to have shlepped, thus enabling her to bask in the delight of having solved a problem she never had in the first place.
As my day of departure drew near I thought my friend had accepted how nuts her plan was and decided not to bother, but no, the day before I left she dropped round to hand me a neatly wrapped package. It was an envelope, properly addressed. I thought it was being collected so why the full address? She may well have hoped that I was going to stand in a post office queue for half my holiday but I had no intention of doing any such thing.
“I’ll leave it at the hotel reception – your daughter can collect it any time she likes,” I informed her, my irritation barely concealed.
I arrived at Heathrow and being both honest and stupid (a combination that makes me very few enemies, being only a danger to myself), I confessed to the possession of something within my baggage that I had been asked to carry for someone else. I explained that the envelope contained a single sock that I had been asked to help re-unite with its partner. I couldn’t have elicited a deeper look of concern if I’d told him I was carrying an AK47 and a couple of landmines, a look that transformed into incredulity when he opened the package to check.
So that was that, until I arrived home a week later and discovered, tucked under a flap at the bottom of my suitcase, an envelope with a baby’s sock in it. I have therefore spent this morning queuing in the post office in Golders Green behind several tens of other people with small packages bound for Israel.