I've stopped telling stories about my friend Blanche because of their similarity, but now I need advice that has nothing to do with etiquette.
She now lives across the state and I have sent her gift packages over the 9 years since she moved. I used to combine her Christmas and birthday packages because her birthday is in January, but stopped doing that about two years ago. I'm glad I did that because for the past three or four years I have been the only person to give her any gifts for either occasion.
She has been out of work for several years. Although she went back to school and now has a degree to do social work she has not yet sought employment. A facility she wanted to apply to has been delayed in completion. She is becoming agoraphobic and leaves her apartment only to shop for food or go to the pharmacy. She says this has been going on for about three months and based on the conversation we had it seems to be getting worse. She is not currently seeing a shrink and doesn't know if the change in her medical insurance will cover it.
The Christmas box I sent last week was stolen.
By way of explanation, she lives in an apartment above a bookstore. There are four apartments on that floor and at least one of her neighbors is an alcoholic with rowdy friends, one of whom pounded on her door at 3AM one night a few weeks ago. There is also no lock on the street door; the landlady (who is a few sandwiches short of a picnic) has historically refused to install one. The local postman typically enters through the unlocked door, goes up the stairs, and leaves mail in front of the apartment doors. In the two years Blanche has lived there nothing has ever gone missing that she knows of. She was home all day Thursday the 19th, the day the package was due. The postman never knocked on her door.
She checked with the local post office, which confirmed that the package had been delivered. What likely happened is that the postman left any packages and mail on the ground floor near the stairs and the box was stolen shortly after being dropped off at 4:41PM (the time the website tracking service says it was left) by a thief who may have been following the truck (there have been news stories of such things here in NYC) or could have seen it through glass in a door. The box was a medium, flat-rate priority box that weighed about 8.5 pounds.
The irony of all this is that I had called her the day before I sent it to confirm her address, as I had misplaced my address book. Her sister-in-law sent her something at the same time that was being held at the post office because it had the wrong address; it had been sent to Blanche's previous address, which was very similar (Think East/West/North/South of a similar name). Had I accidentally written the incorrect address that package would have been there, too.
She did find out that another neighbor had complained to the landlady about the absence of a lock, but doesn't know if that will be addressed.
Please don't tell me to request the post office to hold future packages; I have already decided to do that. My question is this:
Should I replace the box or just wait until it's time to send a birthday gift? I am getting conflicting advice from friends. BTW, the purchase price of the contents came to something like $120.