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Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Adventures of a Reluctant Courier

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photo-17 Last weekend my girlfriend who works for a courier service asked me if I wanted to deliver papers to Amsterdam on Monday night. She works for a legit company that’s been around for ages. She has asked me in the past but it was never the right time. This time I thought: Why not? I was supposed to go to Amsterdam on a summer vacation once but it fell through.

I went to work Monday morning not knowing if I was going to sleep that night in my own bed, or in a bed in the Netherlands. I was told that I would receive an email with all necessary information. After I said yes, I got a little nervous. Well, really nervous. Here I was flying to a place I had never been for a company I don’t even know. I was dropping off paperwork about something I had no idea to a person I had never met.

This was not your typical middle-aged Jewish woman’s comfort zone. Visions of a scene from Mission Impossible and that dynamite fuse igniting did cross my mind a few times.

The email with my instructions and plane ticket arrived at 11 am. Lucky for me I didn’t have to eat it after I read it. I was told that someone would pick me up at my home, hand me the paperwork that I was to deliver, give me a phone and a number to call once I landed, and take me to the airport in time to board the plane. The person in Amsterdam was to meet me, take the papers I had carried, and drop me off at the hotel where I was to stay overnight and then fly home the following day.

“You don’t have to say that you’re a courier when you get to customs,” I was told. “Are you kidding?! Of course I’m going to say I’m a courier.” I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. I never should have said yes. Panic face! OK, OK, I had already committed, so I decided I was just going to put on my determined face and go.

I was picked up at home and handed a phone. I was driven to the airport and told, “Call this number when you land in Amsterdam.” I watched “regular” passengers while I waited to go through security. I put on my “I’m calm” face on top of my nervous Nellie face. I sailed through security without a hitch. I sat on the plane and relaxed, tensed, relaxed, tensed until we touched down.

I knew customs was going to ask why I came to the country and how long I was staying. The truth sounded sketchy even to me. As I got closer to the front of the customs line I stopped thinking. I was in such a panic that I just didn’t know what I was going to say. I had lost my calm face on the plane somewhere and replaced it with my sweaty big-eyed face. I added the shaky hands for effect.

When it was my turn I shakily placed my passport on the counter. The customs agent barely looked up at me. “What is the reason for your visit and how long are you staying?” I could not lie. I wanted to lie to make it easier. After all, the only thing I was delivering was a bunch of papers. If he wanted to see them it wouldn’t be a problem. But I just couldn’t lie. So I said, “I’m delivering some papers and I’m going to see Anne Frank’s house.” Neither was a lie.

I waited. He looked over my passport again, looked at me, stamped the passport, and said, “Enjoy your stay.” What a relief! I practically skipped out to the main terminal, where I found a quiet place and called the number on the phone I had been given. The man who answered said, “We will pick up the papers in five minutes.” I flipped the phone closed (cue Mission Impossible music) and waited. I switched to my “relaxed, waiting for a friend” face.

Not three minutes passed (where was this guy, hiding behind the cheese counter?), and an adorable 20-something guy came up to me and said, “Do you have the papers?” I checked his identification, then handed them over. He said, “Thank you,” I said, “You’re welcome,” we chatted a bit, and off he went.

I was now free to roam around Amsterdam until my return trip the next day. I put on my happy tourist face and took a cab to Anne Frank’s house. I kept that face on throughout the rest of my trip and spent the remainder of my time walking around Amsterdam. It’s very pretty. I stayed at a cute little hotel and flew home the next day. I didn’t get to sleep much but I had quite an adventure.

I’m waiting for my next assignment, Phelps!

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About Marti Renoud-DiPaola

I am a married New York City teacher with three grown kids who loves to travel, especially in Italy. I am in love with Florence, Italy and I go back every chance I get.
  • Mary D.

    That’s hysterical! Now I want to hear the rest of your story!

  • Monica

    Your next mission,,,,, should you accept it,,,,, love it!

  • Lisa Froman

    I’m so curious…about what was in those papers! Marti, it was great to meet you at Diana and Dave’s house over the 4th!

    • Marti Renoud-DiPaola

      Hi Lisa! It was great to meet you too! It was a bunch of technical science stuff that I didn’t understand.