Wednesday, July 4

Life in Italy Top 10 Reasons You've Not Got Mail

Anyone who lives in Italy knows that the Italian Post Office in all its forms (from mail clerks to carriers to delivery to home banking) is the bane of one's existence.  Simply put, it's the flip side of the frittata to stunning scenery, passionate people, magnificent monuments, unbelievable food, events, culture and more.   I'm amused daily by tweets and facebook postings on people's Italy post office blues.  I often repost them in the right hand column of my blog, under Overheard or on my own fb page, but I dedicated an entire chapter in my book entitled, The postman never rings even once.
After the mail carriers (supposedly) shipped back 100 copies of my book rather than bring them to my doorstep -- I have bets placed that I will never live to see their shiny Burnt by the Tuscan Sun covers -- and yesterday's defeat at the hands of the despotic desk clerks, I have decided to share with you my very own David Letterman moment:  The Top 10 Reasons Why We Refuse to Take Your Mail.  But, unlike Letterman, each and every one is an actual response I've received from the people who I am by now quite certain live out their measly existence by wielding power in their pat refusals to provide you, the person keeping them gainfully employed, with this most basic service.  Giving you stamps.

The Top 10 Reasons Why the Italian Post Office Clerks Refuse to Take Your Mail

10.  You've written the address in green pen  [note:  the same applies to red pen as well]
9.    Your envelope has been stapled [and the metal staples might cause harm to our carriers]
8.    It's ten minutes prior to our ten minutes before closing time and we won't take any more transactions [ignoring the fact that you've been inside the place for over an hour]
7.    We have a new order that only 5 transactions are allowed at a time.  You have seven envelopes requiring postage.  I will give you postage for those five, but you'll have to take another number and wait to do the next ones
6.   The USA has stopped accepting packages
5.  Waiting for my number to be called so I could post three letters, I found out they had closed down the letters & packages window altogether to provide for more windows to the hundreds waiting for their financial transactions (avg transaction time:  12 minutes per customer).  I can't reopen the window - it's the system that closed it down - you'll just have to wait til all others before you are helped [note: term used quite loosely]
4.   I can't weigh the letters at this window to determine the postage - you need to go to the window across the way and get them weighed [implying taking a new number and waiting hours in line] / [postscript to this entry: I did just that, the co-worker penciled in  the postage amounts, to wit the clerk then said How do I know that you didn't just write them in yourself and they, indeed correspond to the correct postage?
3.   You wrote 'UK' for United Kingdom on the envelope, and it should be Gran Bretagna (Great Britain) 
2.   [No explanation] They just left you standing there and went on their coffee break
1.  We have no stamps here [this excuse comes in many other forms from 'we don't have the right denominations', 'you want too many stamps', the meter is down, the meter can't post to the USA, the list is endless]

For anyone attempting to apply logic as in...Why don't they just give us postage stamp machines?  The reasons are two-fold:  
a) It would imply someone filling them up with envelopes, money and postage labels to keep them running, which, after day 3 would no longer be in service and 
b) in a country in which the second favorite national pastime is beating the system, they would need someone to check that the postage on the package was accurate, as everyone would simply weigh out boxes empty, get the stamps, and then and only then fill up their boxes with leaden materials and pop them in the mail.  

1 comment:

jacques said...

I remember #7 from decades ago, it's not new; then the only exception was that you could do more than five but they had to have a special itemized list (basically doing the work of the postal worker), and I was recently the victim of its corollary: limitless amounts of single transactions are possible at one time if the person at the sportello wants to flirt with you... I was stuck behind a young cute flirtsy blond who had 25 individual raccomandate which she was filling out with the kind and attentive assistance of the 50 something male sportellista while three other sportelli were chiusi (with people sitting behind them, either chatting with colleagues or doing some arcane inventory work counting piles of envelopes again and again and noting there numbers on little slips of scratch paper.