Illustration by Lucy Hart
The letter read:
Dear Mr. Tucker:
We regret to inform you that the hot air balloon you ordered on September 1, 2013 will not be ready for delivery as scheduled on July 4, 2014. We have had several technical problems beyond our ability to solve in a quick fashion. I know this will be a great disappointment to you, as I know you were looking forward to the Balloons over the Mississippi Race in August. It may be of help if I explain the series of events that necessitated our stopping production.
First the silk fabric shipped to us from China, although of quality, did not take the special brown color that you had requested for your envelope. It turned out to be a rather insipid green, which given your design of Mr. Potato Head, I don’t think you would have liked it.
Also the wicker basket construction stopped when there was a bamboo long-horned beetle infestation in the bamboo forests of upper Daziangling so that the plant materials rotted on the mountain side before we could get up there to pluck them down. The basket is only half finished. We thought about using rattan but because of the international market going bust we can no longer obtain this as a reasonable substitute.
To compound these problems the burners being built in the Ukraine by our best Russian sheet metal workers, came to a grinding halt during some political upheaval, plus the bending machine broke down, unfortunately with the lead worked caught up in the springs. It was very messy but he should be able to return to work after several months of physical therapy.
As you know the cost of propane has gone sky high, so to speak, so we will have to add the difference to your original order.
Do you still want to stick with your original design of Mr. Potato Head given the difference in the color?
Please let us know at your convenience if you still want us to continue with production, as I am sure that we can meet a 2015 deadline for sure.
I remain your devoted servant,
Mr. Ashar Wantan.