Fuck the post office!
For almost 4 years I have been sending a package full of envelopes to america with absolutely no problem. My friend Erick and I do pen-pal letters and it has gone without a hitch for more than 3 years. But recently, the post office is trying to make it harder and harder for me to send the stupid letters.
I don’t know if it is due to new laws, or an update of the little school post office (They re-arranged the furniture but as far as I can tell, everything else is the same) but they have been all over me recently every time I try to send a batch of letters. Just a batch of friggin letters. Last time they made me take it home and re-package it in the envelope again. This time, it took me almost 45 minutes to get the damn thing sent.
In China sending a package is crazy hard. (My excuse for why I don’t send gifts to my friends.) They insist on a box with absolutely no writing on it (yet, they don’t sell said boxes) and they have a huge long list of un-sendable things. Then, you cannot seal or close up thick envelopes or packages because they need to inspect it first. They used to just give it a cursory glance, but now they go through it with a fine tooth comb and disallow the stupidest things. For instance one letter had a bow and was wrapped up in a nice envelope. I had to remove the bow, and the envelope, and just shove the letter into the stack.
Then for some random reason the woman didn’t want me to send it in envelopes I had already packed them in perfectly. So she went into the back and found a box. But the box had been used already and had writing on the outside, which is verboten. So she needed a solution for that.
She took the scissors and went to work on the industrial staples holding the box together. I could tell she wanted to remove the staples, completely opening and flattening the box, then put it together inside out. While I appreciate the effort (she could have just flatly refused me, I guess) I had to stand and watch her slowly and painfully take out the industrial staples.
I’m not allowed to touch or help her at all so I just had to sit their, watching the minutes crawl by as she wrestled with this stupid box (practically destroying it in the process.) I tried not to sigh in exasperation, but I think one or two escaped my lips.
Then she went and got a form for me to fill out. (Why she didn’t give it to me before the box process so I could take care of it while she was busy is yet another question best left unasked.) It was the name/address slip. It’s dual language so I had no problem with it. Only, in the spot that you had to write the contents I wrote “letters” in both English and Chinese, just to be clear.
Turns out that was a problem. After she had some conversation with some boss somewhere (no one has ever had to call for approval before, but she did, not sure why) I was supposed to write something else on the form. Just like I was unable to touch the box, she was unable to touch the form and write it for me. My Chinese “post office” vocabulary is quite low and despite her saying it over and over again, I couldn’t understand what she wanted me to write. So she found a piece of scrap paper and scribbled a few characters. They were a friggin mess and totally unintelligible. Just imagine a Chinese person trying to read a doctors handwritten slip. That was how I felt.
I took out my dictionary and asked her the pinyin so I could see it clearly on my phone. “Write that,” she said jabbing at her scrawl.
“I don’t understand that. Tell me the pinyin and I’ll look it up in my dictionary.”
“This,” she said jabbing the paper. “Write this!”
“I don’t know what that says!!” I said, my patience long gone. “What does this say,” I said slowly.
“This, write this.” still jabbing the scrap paper. She clearly didn’t get it.
Finally I communicate to her what I want, and she types it into my dictionary so I can see the characters clearly. She goes back to wrestling with the now structurally unsound box, trying to tape it back together.
Meanwhile, based on her scrawl and poorly communicated words I only write 2 of the four chinese characters she wants me to. She jabs at the scrap paper again and says, “Write this!.”
“I did!” I protested.
“This,” she says pointing at the last 2 characters.
“What does that say?” I ask taking out my phone dictionary again. “What’s the pronunciation?”
“This, write this,” she says still jabbing.
I was stuck in a real-life ‘Who’s on first’ situation.
Finally we get it all done and she hands me the partially put together box. She points to the upper lefthand corner. “Write China” she says. Then the points to the bottom righthand corner. “Write america.”
Okay, I say writing the characters for America and China in the places she told me.
She saw and then said, “Chinese and American address. Address!” Now, why didn’t she say that in the first place.
This was more than 30 minutes, and I was late for my chinese class but I knew rushing her wasn’t going to help anything. Finally she puts my envelope of letters (after looking through it again) into the box. It doesn’t fit. They are too big. She she squishes it, but because the box is just held loosely together by tape, it totally warps and falls apart. Finally, I step in and hold the box in shape while she crams the letters into them.
Then she unloads half a roll of tape to wrap the whole thing up. Actually I was quite impressed with her mad taping skills and lack of frugality with the tape. It was more tape than box by the time she got done with it. Meanwhile, I should add, a small line was forming and everyone was watching her as she taped up the box again and again. “Hurry up!” I could almost here the other patrons shouting in their minds.
Then she entered the information into the computer, printed up the label, I paid the cash and finally, finally I was able to leave. She had been asking me a bunch of questions throughout, but, like I said, my post office vocabulary is pretty much non existence (I can say stamp and fast mail, that’s about it) and she had a very thick local accent so I couldn’t understand her. Though I feel like it worked to my advantage. I almost feel that if I could understand her she would have refused my package for some reason. As it was I think she sent it because sometimes it’s easier just to do what the crazy foreigner wants then try to explain something. Yay for crazy foreigner!
The post office is taking all the fun out of these pen pal letters. The problems are escalating and I feel like they are on the verge of flat out refusing me. I don’t normally feel the oppression of the government, and normally can say and do what I like without fear. But not at the damn post office! They make me feel at best like a crazy diva just causing trouble and at worse a criminal.
Fuck the post office!
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