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You think you've got holiday shipping hassles?

posted by Terence Keane on Mon, Dec 22, 2008
in At the theatre

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At this time of year, lots of people worry about how much it will cost to ship gifts and if their packages will arrive on time. So this odd little office moment seemed apropos...

The other day our bookkeeper, Kristin, sent out an e-mail with the subject line "Fed-Ex mystery." When I read the message, I just had to laugh. Kristin was hoping that someone in the company could claim responsibility for an overnight package that had been billed to us, but she didn't have much to work with.

The package came from someone named Wileyuk Thessen at a business called CATCU in Ohio. Even better, according to Fed Ex, it was addressed to FJ Croeleng c/o Entucthen at Byhley R-perlviy. With admirable understatement, Kristin wrote, "I have a feeling some of these words are horribly misspelled. See if you can decipher."

It's fairly obvious that "Byhley R-perlviy" is scrawl for "Berkeley Repertory," but beyond that?

Well, incredibly, someone did break the code. The crucial bit was "CATCU," which turns out to be a theatre called Catco in Ohio. That's the usual artistic home for TJ Gerckens, the lighting designer who created the beautiful blend of lanterns, stars, and moonlight for The Arabian Nights. I guess TJ is also known to his friends as "FJ Croeleng."

And what about "c/o Entucthen"? I've studied a few foreign languages, and that looks vaguely like the German word for "duckling." Perhaps the package was sent via passenger pigeon? The best guess comes from Fred Geffken, our master electrician, who suspects the sender meant to write "c/o Electrics," since that's the department where TJ was working. While Fred is remarkably skilled at what he does, I think his brilliance in cracking the Duckling Code qualifies him for a high-level intelligence job doing cryptanalysis for the Obama administration.

So we can all sleep soundly now, with visions of Catcos and Croelengs dancing in our heads... Yet let this be a lesson to all of you elves out there: Santa can easily read millions of letters every year, but postal workers and bookkeepers really prefer if you write neatly when shipping those seasonal packages. (And it doesn't hurt to leave them some milk and cookies either.)

Happy holidays, everyone, from all of us at Berkeley Rep.

And Froehliche Weihnachten, Wileyuk Thessen, wherever you are.


My initial email set off a flurry of responses from the Electrics and Production Departments, enough to make one giddy. Lee Helms, genius Stage Management intern, was actually the first to pop the mystery code. Tom Aberger, Production Manager and Fred, close on the heels of Lee, also hit the mark. Praise be!

Kristin | Tue, Dec 23, 2008

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