You want a box for that?

Somebody in China wants to sell me a box – specifically a wooden packing box.

I’m not exactly sure why.

I’m not even sure if I’m the right person for the box.

I mean, I’m pretty sure who I’m supposed to be most of the time, but I’m not sure I’m the guy to whom somebody in China wants to export one wooden packing box.

Perhaps I should explain.

(Sure, why not?)

Trouble started last week when the newspaper’s librarian scuttled out of her shadowy lair and dropped an e-mail message on my desk.

“This doesn’t make any sense – it must be for you,” she muttered darkly before spinning on her heel and returning to her dim, cobweb enshrouded alcove.

Since there was no one else in the newsroom upon whom I could foist the mysterious missive, I nodded confidently, adjusted my bifocals and took command of the situation – for about five seconds.

I suppose the message could have been for me. Then again, it could have been for Ozzy Osbourne or Dick Cheney.

“It’s our utmost pleasure to know on the Web that you are inclined to import packing box. So we are glad to introduce ourselves as a manufacturer of wooden packing box in Guangdong, China. And we would like to build up business relations with you in this line.”

Uh-huh.

“Our product is available for export at present. This product has been widely sold to various markets abroad and we believe that there is also a demand for your end…”

(This is getting a little dicey. I never imagined there was an international demand for my end. Worse, I’m not sure to which end the writer is referring – are we talking about my demise or my, er, posterior? Curiousier and curiousier…)

“We look forward to your early reply. We believe that our business with you will develop as time goes on.”

Well, that’s a fairly reasonable assumption. We could, perhaps, start off with one introductory wooden packing box now and then maybe a couple in the fall for realistic Halloween coffin decorations. Then a half-dozen wooden packing boxes filled with fruitcakes and mistletoe for king-sized Christmas gifts, a tasteful Chinese packing box for my ex-wife’s birthday in January and two for my kids’ birthdays in February.

I can almost hear their joyous cries of childlike delight and wonder: “Wow, Dad, thanks – imported wooden packing boxes from Guangdong! Just what we’ve always wanted. You’re the greatest Dad ever!”

Yes, I had to agree that there were myriad possibilities for Chinese wooden packing boxes. On the other hand, I had to be realistic. You can only deliver so many gaily wrapped wooden packing boxes to weddings and baby showers before people begin to think you’re a few boxes short of a warehouse.

Fortunately, the folks in Guangdong gave me an easy out:

“I sincerely apologize if this message annoyed you, but I’ll be very grateful if you’ll recommend it to your friends!”

OK, friends, here’s where to find out more about some of the most packable packing boxes in China:

http:/www.wroad.nit/wensheng/

Go for it, amigos, and tell ’em I sent you…

Originally published July 15, 2001