I come from a country where the the mail service sucks. I won’t even try to be politically correct here.
I grew up with the pressure of being at the post office by 1.30 pm because otherwise it was closed and I learned to always bring something to read because you knew when you started to queue but never when you finished it. Only in recent years, they started to open until four in the in the afternoon, with a two hours lunch break and, in most of the cases, substantial digestive problems because when you step into a post office in the afternoon, you had the clear impression to disturb. They look at you thinking, and not in a much concealing way :”seriously? You had all morning to come to the post office, and you come now.In these two hours, we could use to do our things?”
The more extended opening hour at the offices had not made the service faster but, on the other hand, they made it more expensive because apparently, they have to pay the clerks for more extended hours and so, if you want to send something you can now only use the suggested boxes. The boxes are expensive and come in awkward sizes. You never know what size you need and always end up to buy more than one or the biggest one, just to be sure. Bigger boxes mean more significant weight, more expensive prices, longer routes and ultimately longer waiting time for the receiver: welcome to “Poste Italiane”.
An Post (the Irish public post service), on the contrary, works incredibly well.
Post offices are on average open from 9 am to.530pm and also on Saturdays up to 1.30pm.Not only that, but the post (parcel included) is delivered on weekends too and close to Christmas or other holidays, they reinforce the working units. Something that for the Italian postal system is unthinkable.
16 years in Ireland and I never had a problem with my post, and I can guarantee you I am big customers. I shop online a lot, and I regularly exchange parcels with my friends and relatives across Europe and the States.
Efficiency is not the only thing I feel to praise about Irish posts; there is also the common courtesy of the post office clerks and the kindness of the postmen, despite the giant dog’s attempts to chase every single one of them.
Up to today, I am still a big fan of An Post, but I must admit that, for once, karma had worked in a very mysterious way and severely tested my faith.
Nona went to France and bought daughter number 1 and 2 two lovely t-shirts. Nona won’t come over until November and not wanting to make the girls wait until then she decided to post the t-shirts. I never do register post because it costs double and it takes longer. Every parcel going abroad from Ireland can anyway be traced online, and in all these years I never had any missing item.
Of course, does mothers listen to you? Never! And so Nona did a registered post. Italians are obsessed with registered post, I think it gives them the illusion to control their mail, but they don’t and in fact, for a week every day, my mother kept asking if I had received the package. I had not. Not after a week, not after two and not after three.
At that point, we both started to think that, even for a registered post, it was a far too long time.
Nona went to the post office where they provided her with a receipt stating that the parcel had been allegedly delivered to me two weeks previously.
Well, I might be a bit forgetful lately and I might not have the brain of a spring chicken anymore but, I think I would remember if I got the parcel with the girl’s t-shirt and, most importantly, two packs of Swiffer duster refill.
Yes, I know, what you are thinking: how much “desperate housewives”(even if in eight years I religiously watched that series I never saw anyone making the dust) does it sound to ask your mother to send you over from Italy the Swiffer duster refills. Seriously? Of all things?Yes, seriously!Not my fault if I can’t find them in Ireland and my mom is cheaper than Amazon!
Back to the parcel, after listening to her infinite polemic about the missing package, I went to the local parcel depot, with a copy of the receipt my mother sent me.
“OH yes, the parcel has been delivered to a boy called Sam on the 14th of September”, they told me and looked at me wondering why I was there actually.
“Well”, I said,” There is no Sam in my house or neighbourhood, and I had not received anything”.
“Oh”, the post office guy went, starting to understand why I was there and guessing the trouble that was coming next he cleverly asked me to go back the following morning to speak with the manager.
So I did !I explained all the story again to the manager,Mr Phil. Mr Phil listened, and after double checking that the address was correct and that nobody called Sam got my mail and just forgot to tell me, he had to agree with me that my parcel had been misdelivered to someone the postman didn’t even care to ask for his surname.
“Live it with me Mrs GC, and I will ring you as soon I speak with the postman and know something”.I waved Mr Phil goodbye, and sure I would have never heard anything back I left.
With my surprise, Mr Phil rang me back as he said, but only to say that postman had no recollection to who he delivered the parcel. As much as he was concerned, he left it at the right address.
“But he didn’t”, I said incredulous and I hung up once again with Mr Phil promise to carry further enquires and ring me back in a few days.
Few days for Italians are 1 or 2 days, to make it long, then we start calling, and I am not an exception.
Nearly two weeks passed, and I had no updates on the missing parcel. Of course, I didn’t just sit and wait by the phone.I ran my little personal investigation and went around my immediate neighbours to ask and to the house down the hill.
For those who read the blog for a while: yes that house! It took me some courage but not as much courage as to keep answering the phone calls from my mother and confess I had not retrieved the parcel yet.
For those are instead new to the blog, long story short, the house down the hill is a promiscuous scary venue whose very far end of the garden borders with mine.
They said they had not received anything, but I am now pretty sure that the postman, that for a joke of the destiny that day was a substitute of the usual one,(who I am sure would have never made such a mistake),left my package there. It is the only explanation considering that both houses go by the same name except they have a different civic number. Unfortunately, without evidence my hands are tight.
Nona is now impossible to keep at bay, and to be honest I want some closure on the matter too.
There is only one thing I can do: I physically go back to the parcel depot office to speak to Mr Phil face to face. Mr Phil, who listened for the last few weeks at my rants over the phone, had become more of a Dr Phil. The poor man must have gained some excellent counselling skills that he unsuccessfully tried to use when he politely told me that I had to suck it up: my parcel was lost, I could have some compensation but only after filling a not precise number of forms. I was not entitled to know the name of the postman to make a complaint and neither to a copy of the receipt to file a report for stolen goods with the police.
At that point, my cheeks were on fire, and they got more and more red with some shade of green. White foam started to drip from the side of my mouth.Mr?DR Phil disappeared and came back with the forms and a big envelope; with the last hint of bravery he had left, because he knew it was a matter of seconds before I exploded, he slid the forms and the envelope through the counter’s window. As quickly as he could, he took his hand back in and whispered: “Of course you don’t have to pay for the stamps. I gave you a free stamp envelop to use”.
Well, that changed everything, right? Nooooo! It fecking didn’t! It only made it worst, and I lost it.
I became a sort of Linda Blair. I could see and hear myself from the outside. I didn’t like that version of me, but I could not stop. I thought about Nona: I still had to tell her we lost the t-shirts and the Swiffer dusters but I could also tell her that I really I fought for them and I ultimately f… the entire post office off. She was going to be so proud!
Except I never felt so bad in my life, and the following morning I went back to the office. It was in that occasion that the nice Mr Phil had been a real Dr Phil. We had a “back to be friend ” coffee, and I left with the forms and the free stamp envelope.
So far, I had not fill any yet because mistakes happen and I don’t want to get the postman in trouble.
I would only like for people to be honest and don’t steal parcel that doesn’t belong to them.