Too young. They were...four months old? They had so much potential. ):
No, not a heater malfunction. These were the fish I kept close to me. They were all in divided tank in my dorm. But the downside of living in a dorm is that you have to vacate for winter break. Originally, my parents and I decided that I would take the bus back to New Jersey because it was cheaper and easier. But they changed their minds in the end; they wanted me to fly. That was better for me, but not so much for my bettas. 'Cuz, if I had taken the bus, I could have just brought them on the bus with me. But since I was flying, I had to ship them instead.
I was trying to get everything in order and, it being the last few days before Christmas, the shipping bags and supplies I ordered online arrived at the very last minute on the 17th. I had to leave for my flight at 4:30 am on the 18th, so I couldn't drop them off at the campus post office myself. I packaged them very carefully right before I left and entrusted them to a good friend to take care of them.
Now, my friend was an absolute saint. She had an exam at 8 in the morning on the 18th and stayed up all night to study for it, but she was at the post office the moment it opened that day to drop my fish off. I told her that I wanted them to be Express mailed and gave her money for it (by accident, I had gotten a flat rate USPS Priority box, but my friend said she would make sure that they changed it to Express). What happened next was just one big mess.
According to my friend, the employee she dealt with was rude and not that bright. She was dismissive and scattered. She insisted that the address I gave her did not exist and basically kept my friend there for just about two hours trying to get them shipped. My friend called Ci to confirm the address, and despite the fact that she freaking lives
there, the employee would not accept it. She ended up giving the address of her mom's house across the street. The employee still printed the name and address wrong a couple of times before she got it right. My friend kept repeating that she wanted Express, even if they couldn't give me flat rate and I had to pay more for it because there were live fish inside and they needed to be delivered by the next day. The employee assured her that it will be done and charged her accordingly for the service. Knowing my friend, she would not have left until she was absolutely sure everything was correct.
Next day comes, and they weren't there. I pull up tracking and what did it say? UPS Ground Mail. Anywhere from 1-5 day for delivery. Sinking feeling in my stomach. Checked the transit map and it said that from GA to MO (Ci's state), it would take two days. I was livid.
They were in MO in a town just an hour away on the morning of the 19th. Why they didn't deliver them then, I do not know. They did not arrive until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon on the 20th. They had taken the flat rate box I had packed them in and stuck it in a UPS Ground box.
When Ci opened the box, they were all still alive, but barely. They had all turned white from the cold and were visibly distressed. The transit route UPS Ground took was through areas which were experiencing subzero degree weather. Moo-stash died minutes after the box was opened. The gold HMPK was on his back, gasping for air. The female on her side. The female went next and the male soon followed. The only one that survived was our koi PK male. Ci called me on Facetime when they were unboxed. I still can't get the image of Moo-stash's lifeless body out of my eyes.
I feel so wretched. I feel like I really screwed up, even though I know a lot of things went wrong. And not only did I love those fish, but Moo-stash was Ci's favourite fish as well as my friend's (the one that sent them) favourite. She would come to my dorm every single day in between classes to say hi and play with him. She really loved that fish. I don't even know how I am going to break the news to her. She will be devastated. And she didn't even want to ship them in the first place because she was worried about them just being stressed out. Kept asking if it would be okay for them to be in bags and not having food for a few days...
The worst part about all of this was that Moo-stash and the pair hung on until they got to our door to die. These fish were tough. They could have made it. If they had arrived just an hour earlier, they could have been revived. There were so many chances.