Which is the harder challenge for Santa: traveling 1,050 kilometers per second to deliver all his gifts in one night or changing his mailbox address?
Let’s just say he’s done the first and his agents haven’t figured out how to do the second.
There’s supposedly multiple people on the mainland interested in his 9.3-meter-high mailbox in Longyearbyen, which remains standing despite a city order to remove it many months ago. But it’s not like Po Lin Lee, a Hong Kong woman who’s the “official” owner of the mailbox, can just stick it in a box, slap an address label on it and take it to the post office so it can be delivered to the purchaser.
“It’s really complicated,” she said this week, noting it might nt be possible to reassemble the mailbox if it’s dismantled rather than shipped intact. Furthermore, she said any transfer should involve a single trip instead of, say, taking it by ship to Tromsø and transferring it to another ship or method of transport there.
Then there’s that pesky question of whether any of the potential buyers Lee said she’s been approached by are serious.
“I’ve had some people come up to look at the mailbox,” she said, but so far they’ve said buying it isn’t feasible without some new kind of logistics arrangement.
One potential buyer is Per Morten Hektoen, who runs the Santa-themed Savalen tourist destination in Tynsetone. In interviews with Svalbardposten and his hometown newspaper, he said the mailbox would be an ideal addition to his 550-square-meter winter wonderland, but it might take a Christmas miracle to make it happen.
“The mailbox would be great at Savalen, but it’s a problem with shipping unless Rudolf comes with the mailbox himself,” he told Svalbardposten.
The city originally ordered Lee to removed the mailbox by last Nov. 1 or face a fine of 500 kroner a day, due to the fact she failed to properly apply for a renewal of the permit she obtained for it in 2013. The city then ordered her to remove it by June 1 or the city would do so and bill her for that as well. She obtained two subsequent postponments, but the city has had the authority to remove the box since July 15.
City officials have stated they are willing to offer some leeway if Lee indeed has legitimate potential buyers and a means to deliver it to them. But Lee, who said she’s continuing discussions with the city and the logistics company LNS Spitsbergen about arrangements, told Svalbardposten she’s also objecting to the fines that now exceed 125,000 kroner because an adjascent tent targeted for removal years ago remains in place.
“I contribute to the tourism industry in the city and the tourists like the mailbox,” she said. “Why will (the city) punish me but not the owner of the tent next door? He has not received any daily fines even though the tent should have been removed. What is the difference? That I am a foreign woman and he a Norwegian man?”