I sent out bunches of e-mails to suppliers. Mostly, I never heard back, and when I did, there was always one roadblock or the other: the Oil was available only by prescription, while sometimes, it could be purchased over the counter. Then it got complicated. The darn thing was, even if the Oil could be had, I was stymied by other stuff. A lot of times, distributors covered a region with exclusive distribution guidelines- shipping it out of the country was a no go. And if you could, there were those pesky exportation rules. Many permutations of obstacles, nothing was working.
After what seemed like hundreds of dead ends, the planets aligned in Hong Kong. The mystery man behind the email assured me that there would be no issues buying or shipping it. All he needed was for me was to wire a few thousand Euros and the Oil was mine. Capitalism was alive and well!
I was hopeful, I guess, but plenty apprehensive. What to do? It seemed like this was as good a time as any to put boots on the ground. The only way to get this done right was to go and get it myself. I took out money from the bank and bought airline tickets. Within hours, I was off to meet my connection. In retrospect this seems a bit nuts, but maybe not much more so than wiring money to a stranger?
As soon as I checked into the hotel, I arranged a liaison. I rested up a bit, then took a taxi over to his office.
It put me off, not like any office I had ever seen. No lobby, no receptionist, just a plain, block-like, concrete structure with a single locked door. I wondered if this is what a Soviet-era office might look like?
I somehow found my way in, was led into a conference room and given a half-full cup of tepid water. It was customary, I expect. Next up, Nikki wanted to see the cash. I fanned out the one-hundred-Euro notes. He bowed and, without a word, left the room. By and by, he returned, and carefully arranged 18 half-liter bottles of Lorenzo’s Oil on the table.
My quest appeared to be nearing its end. I finally exhaled, glowing, as if I had discovered some sort of Key of Solomon. He counted out the bills and we worked together to bubble wrap the precious bottles and pack them away in my suitcase.
While my original plan was to spend a couple of days exploring Hong Kong, with the deal consummated, I was all business, with a singular focus. I needed to get going on the Oil. The problem was not totally solved, though, I still had to figure out how to work future shipments. I could not go to Hong Kong every time I needed a refill. I held back the last bottle for a shipping experiment. On the way out, I arranged for a FedEx pick up.
I moved up my departure and quickly boarded a flight home. I was fairly excited and too tired to consider the sort of problems I might encounter when shipping the stuff.
This project got going faster than expected: the first thing that I heard upon my arrival at LAX was that the Customs Service was holding my shipment.