TikToker Hunter Kaimi (@hunterkaimi) went viral after sharing a story from his time at UPS in Seattle, when he mistakenly asked a customer if the priceless painting made by an enslaved person they were shipping was finger painting of a child.
In the clip, Kaimi explains how he once called a customer and asked for a quote to ship a painting. After Kaimi gave her an estimate based on the size of the painting, the lady visited the shop with the item.
“I can best describe the painting as… 3 x 5 canvas and it looked like an old finger painting her kid did 20 years ago,” says Kaimi. “It was in decent condition but the paint was peeling off a bit and it literally just looked like thumbprints and handprints.”
“I knew it would cost at least a few hundred dollars to package and ship this painting just because of the size,” Kaimi continues. “And based on the quality of the art alone, I was really surprised that she was willing to spend so much money.”
He describes how he began calling the woman, and as he processed the transaction, learned that he was dealing with a supposedly priceless work of art that contained a tremendous amount of historical significance to America.
“Then ask the key question. I said, “What is the value of the painting?” Kaimi says he asked the woman.
“It’s priceless,” the customer reportedly replied.
“Oh yes, no, absolutely,” says Kaimi, he replied. “Is it sentimental? Did your kid do that or something?”
He says the lady replied, “It’s a 300-year-old painting made by a slave.”
The TikToker then looks at the camera with a shocked expression on his face before continuing: “Now I’ve studied communications. I was a public speaking coach throughout college. I’m pretty good with my words. I like to think that in an embarrassing situation I can somehow back off or crack a lighthearted joke, and when I tell you there’s not a word in the damn English language I could have said that could have made that interaction less uncomfortable.
He continues: “After further reflection, why was this white woman in possession of a painting made by a slave? Who is to say that?
Let me know if you want more UPS stories
♬ Original Sound – Hunter Kaimi
His story prompted a litany of mixed responses from other TikTok users, who had some stories of their own from their time at the parcel service. Others wanted to know why the woman was in possession of a priceless slave picture at all.
“As soon as I heard ‘it looked like a kid drew it,’ I knew it was going to be an insanely valuable piece,” wrote one viewer.
“Once I was asked to pack and ship an entire couch and I cried in the storage room,” said another.
“I asked an elderly lady the value of her package and she said, ‘Um, idk, it’s so much my husband’s ashes? For me at least ‘ma’am what?’” said one user.
One user simply said, “Seattle is a weird place.”
The Daily Dot has emailed Kaimi and UPS for further comment.
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*Initial publication: November 26, 2022 at 9:49 am CST
Jack Alban is a freelance journalist for the Daily Dot, covering trending human interest/social media stories and real people’s reactions to them. He always tries to incorporate evidence-based studies, current events, and relevant facts to those stories to create your not-so-average viral post.
https://www.dailydot.com/irl/ups-slave-painting/ Former UPS worker says customer painted slave in email