Weird Stuff in our Mailbox

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, today blogging about one of the things just about everyone has experienced since last March—having items we’d ordinarily buy in a store sent through the mail or by UPS or FedEx instead. I live in a rural part of Maine, far enough from the center of any town that home delivery from grocery stores isn’t available. Heck, we can’t even get a pizza delivered out here. In fact, for food shopping, only Walmart has curbside pickup. Hannaford and Food City offer early senior shopping hours , but no way am I getting up at 5 AM and rushing off to the grocery store. The older I get, the more time it takes for the coffee to kick in and shopping without a fully-engaged brain is never a sound idea.

So, a couple of times a week, one of us does a quick, organized, well-masked run to buy food and other essentials and to check our P.O. Box for mail and packages, which brings me back to the topic of this post—some of the strange things we’ve been sent during the pandemic.

Books and puzzles don’t count, of course. I’d be ordering them anyway, and none of those political flyers back before the elections ever made it past the recycle bin at the post office. Since I prefer to pay bills by check, we still get a few of those every month, but what we now see a lot more of are those yellow cards that mean a package has arrived.

Probably the most surprising item turned up last month. Actually, there were two packages, one for each of us . . . from our insurance company. Since my husband is a retired state employee, we’re both covered by an Aetna Medicare program. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than many, and I have had reason to be grateful for it this year. Aetna annoys us by constantly phoning to tell us we’re entitled to free home visits, despite the fact that we’ve repeatedly told them we’re not about to let a stranger into the house, especially now. We get regular physicals, thank you very much. Which our insurance company ought to know, since they pay for them. Sorry—just needed to rant about that for a minute. Back to the packages. In a rather more sensible attempt to look after us old folks, each contained what Aetna apparently considers pandemic essentials: a thermometer, a box of bandaids, three purple face masks with the Aetna logo prominently displayed, a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, dry eye drops, and cough drops.

Early on, we tried ordering cat food from The service was fine, but Shadow is a fussy eater. None of the boxed combinations suited Her Highness, leading to waste, and ordering nothing but single cans of the flavors she prefers, which weren’t always in stock, got old fast. We’re back to picking up assorted patés at the grocery store.

I’ve always tended to shop by brands, preferring to stick with those I know we like for foodstuffs and with those that offer specific benefits in the case of other supplies. Take vitamins. I’d been buying the kind aimed at people 65+ at Walmart . . . until we stopped going into Walmart. Neither Food City nor Hannaford carries them, so now I order them by mail. Okay, I admit it. I’m using Amazon Prime so I don’t have to pay postage. Sorry small businesses, but if you don’t have what I’m looking for, I have to get it somewhere. What else have I ended up buying that way? It’s an odd list—mostly things I’d normally buy while grocery shopping but haven’t been able to find in 2020. Just to name two: freezer tape and dish cloths. Oh, and crew socks, which I wear around the house in lieu of going barefoot and used to get at Walmart. Who needs shoes when you’re not going out?

I’ve also mail ordered a few things for hefty prices where the profits were going to good causes. It’s a good thing it was a good cause in the case of some face masks because they not only took forever to arrive but they turned out to be too small to fit my husband’s face and not particularly comfortable for me to wear. They’re cute, though. And the photo at the beginning of this blog? That’s Sandy in the face mask specially designed to go under his ski helmet. That was ordered by mail, too.


So, dear readers—what about you? What weird or wonderful items have you received via USPS, UPS, or FedEx during the last long months?


Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-three books traditionally published and has self published several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary “Deadly Edits” series (A Fatal Fiction) as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a standalone historical mystery, The Finder of Lost Things. She maintains websites at and A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen.


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11 Responses to Weird Stuff in our Mailbox

  1. I got the purple Aetna care package as well. Really like the masks with the custom schnozz area at the top. Thought about taking a marker and writing ‘I am not a prune’ on it. I’ve been more on the sending side during the pandemic, trading books on paperbackswap as well as selling on both Amazon and Ebay. The quarantine has been good for small book sellers like me. Sold four overnight. As a sweepstaker, I’ve seen prizes change, far fewer trips, more gift cards and the odder phenomenon of virtual hangouts, etc. with famous people (most of whom I never heard of). Won a slot in a virtual pajama party later this week, but will probably skip it.

  2. Heidi Wilson says:

    We got the Aetna boxes too! Really weird — how is flossing our teeth going to help with covid? And as for Aetna not knowing that you get your physicals when they were the ones that paid for them — well, anyone who sends sunscreen to New England in November probably counts one, two, three… many,…

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      I forgot to mention the floss! And good point about the sunscreen. Although before masking my husband occasionally slapped some on his face for sunny days on the ski slopes.

      • kaitlynkathy says:

        Belatedly remembering that the boxes also included a daily pill keeper, a pill cutter, and chapstick.

  3. Kate Flora says:

    well, early on, when we washed every apple and orange and lived in terror when the groceries arrived, I tried to buy a thermometer. Impossible, but eventually I found one at Walmart. In order get free shipping, though, I ended up ordering more stuff, which turned out to include a box of bar snacks, and a huge box of snack sized bags of pretzels. Anyone need pretzels? i have them. Also found a place that would deliver bagels. Again…to get the free shipping (sense a theme here?) I ordered their pretzels as well. Bad news. I don’t normally eat pretzels but these whole wheat pretzels were delicious. Weird hand sanitizer? Strangely scratchy paper masks? And then, alas, my downfall: the day I found boots on eBay for $12.00 including shipping. So now, during a time when I rarely put on shoes at all except hiking shoes for my daily walk, I have three brand spanking new pairs of stylish ankle boots. Good thing we don’t need our budget for travel.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Somehow I don’t think you’re the only one adding things to orders. And those boots will come in handy eventually.

  4. Dru Ann says:

    It’s like everything you would not worry about if you were going into an office is finding itself in my apartment via UPS, USPS, Fedex. Two folding chairs – because I needed something that can fold; binocular – because I can see someone’s big monitor and I wanted to see what was on it; hand sanitizer because I can’t find Purell, so I got it from Bath & Body Works; Brita water bottles. Kathy, you are right, if you can’t find it locally, there’s not much else I can do but order it on Amazon.

  5. itslorrie says:

    We have been getting almost everything shipped since March. There were a lot of shortages in Michigan. We couldn’t get toilet paper for 3 months, not even online. Still can’t get sanitizing wipes although I did manage to get two cans of Lysol Spray. We do grocery pick-up at Walmart and delivery from Meijer. Unfortunately, none of our stuff is interesting or weird. Boring old people stuff. Like Kate, I did order shoes that I have no need to wear in the near future. Have to laugh at Dru Ann and my husband because he has been using his binoculars to look at the next door neighbor’s trash that they have left lying on the ground for over a week. I think I will sneak out at night and clean it up. btw Kathy, the two masks in the top right of your photo look too small for my 6 yr old grandson. Stay safe and healthy everyone!

  6. kaitlynkathy says:

    Thanks for commenting, Lorrie, You stay safe too.

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