Last week, the University of Chicago got some attention for posting to its admissions Tumblr page a story about how a package addressed to one "Henry Walton Jones Jr." had appeared in the mail. It apparently took them a little while to realize (a) that this was the "real name" of Indiana Jones in the famous movie series, and (b) that the package was an amazing replica
of the journal Jones uses in the first of the movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark
Everyone started to speculate what the deal was, with the UChicago folks wondering if it was an elaborate and creative attempt at getting admitted.
If you're an applicant and sent this to us: Why? How? Did you make it? Why so awesome? If you're a member of the University community and this belongs to you or you've gotten one like it before, PLEASE tell us how you acquired it, and whether or not yours came with a description — or if we're making a big deal out of the fact that you accidentally slipped a gift for a friend in to the inter-university mail system. If you are an Indiana Jones enthusiast and have any idea who may have sent this to us or who made it, let us know that, too.
I love that "why so awesome" question slipped in there... There was also speculation that it might be part of a viral marketing campaign or alternative reality game. But, in the end, the answer was really quite mundane. This was really about... the US Postal Service being helpful
(or trying to be). There's a guy named Paul Charfauros, who makes such replicas and sells them on eBay
. He told the University of Chicago that the USPS had contacted him recently to inform him that it had lost one of his packages, as it had slipped out of an envelope.
"Somewhere between Guam and Italy the replica fell out of its original external package and was lost in Honolulu, Hawaii," Garrett Brinker, director of undergraduate outreach for the university, said in an interview with Wired. "Then for some reason, with fake postage, no tracking, not even a zip code — it looks like the Postal Service had to manually write in a zip code on the package — somehow without all of that the package landed in our laps in Chicago, Illinois."
Basically, the package above was in another
envelope address to the real buyer -- but when the inner package slipped out, the USPS assumed that it was an accurate package, and shipped it on to the address at the University, even without the postage (and, apparently, they didn't even ask for the proper postage from the recipient, which is a little odd). Either way, the seller has agreed to let the University keep the copy in exchange for some UChicago swag. And, back at the University "multiple departments" are now fighting over the journal. Perhaps they should consider buying a few more from Charfauros...