Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Soap Box Wednesdays: Fragile is Italian

Honestly, I could do another Soap Box Wednesdays post on more drive thru dilemmas (I've had some doozies since this post), but this week I'm gonna talk about what the word "fragile" means. 

According to the dictionary (Merriam Webster), fragile means :

a : easily broken or destroyed <a fragile vase> b : constitutionally delicate : lacking in vigor <a fragile child>. 

 Sounds pretty staightforward to me.

"Fragile" is an English word, with Latin origin, however I find myself wondering:  Is it REALLY English? Why do I wonder this?  Because, apparently, some don't understand what it means.
Let me explain.  As many of you know, I've shipped many of my possessions to Ireland since I will be moving there in less than a week.  One of my most recent shipments was a large 11x18 framed wedding portrait of Barry and I.  I took my time wrapping the precious item in bubble wrap, paper and towels before I placed the portrait in a box to ship.  What other choice did I have?  I had to ship it.  It's too big to put in a suitcase and I couldn't carry it with me because I'm going to have my hands full with other carry-on items on the plane. 

Once the portrait was placed in the box, I taped it up and wrote the word "fragile" on the outside of the box.  And, yes, I've heard the horror stories from people who say that they've done the same thing, yet their items still arrived broken.  I've also heard that if "fragile" is written on an item, sometimes that package is deliberately mistreated, thrown around, dropped, kicked, etc.  But, I put my faith in humankind that that would not happen.  Mistake.

But, I thought who would be so cruel? ESPECIALLY, since when shipping something to another country, you must fill out a customs form and attach it to the outside of the box.  This customs form must specify the contents of the box.  And, I specified.  I did. I wrote, "WEDDING PORTRAIT" on my customs form for all to see.  Yet, woe is me. 
The package arrived with Barry in Ireland the other day.  He then informed me that the glass on the portrait was broken.  Not only was it broken, the glass had scratched and damaged the photograph.  Of course, I was upset. I understood the risk in shipping something like this and it was a risk I was willing to take, but I did take precautions. 

I supposed my question is why do we write "fragile" on these items when they are not treated as fragile? Perhaps everyone has the same mindset as Ralphie's dad does in A Christmas Story?  Picture the scene when he wins his "major award" and the box with this award arrives (see video below).  Maybe Ralphie's dad isn't the only one that thinks "fragile" is Italian?   If you haven't seen A Christmas Story, watch the video below so you know what the heck I'm talking about (I apologize for the quality of the video.  It appears to be one that someone recorded from their television and uploaded to YouTube...but, it is the only one I could find.  Personally, I think the volume indicator on the screen is a nice touch). 


P.S. All is not lost, Barry took the damaged photograph and is having it refinished at a low cost so all will be right in my world again. :)


  1. Oh no! I hate shipping stuff- I always always worry about it. Glad it is not completely lost and will be salvaged :) I love that clip of a Christmas Story- I laugh so hard when I see the word "fragile" on anything because I always think of this clip.

  2. Me too...I say "Frageeele"...usually everyone knows and chuckles.

  3. What a bummer! Shipping things internationally always gives me anxiety. I am glad that you were able to get the photo refinished -- I hope you take a photo of it in your new home!! =) Less than a week!! Ahh!!!!

  4. @KY--I know...can't believe how soon it is! I'm a box of nerves lol.

  5. I'm sorry about the photo:( Never trust shipping!! Or checking in stuff, or similar... I don't even trust that I'll get my checked in luggage back!!! I just sold a melodeon and I'm so happy it was too a lady who lived close enough to come and collect it by car.

  6. Oh honey. I'm sorry. I used to work at the airport for UPS where we loaded and unloaded boxes. Honestly, when spinning the boxes, the ground crew isn't looking for that label and we'd also be under considerable time pressure to get old cargo off and new cargo on.

    Fingers crossed.

  7. @Susi and, its always a risk I guess...oh well!

  8. I am not sure if you like to "play" along, but I gifted you something on my blog...It will be up tomorrow morning!


  9. Hey there lovely lady! I am hosting my 3rd Photo Challenge themed VINTAGE. Fun right :] I would LOVE if you participated!
    ~Angel @