January 09, 2008

Not Fit For Her Post

I fly back to Boston tomorrow and I've been having trouble closing my suitcase, so today I stuffed a bunch of stuff in a box and took it to the post office to mail instead.

When I got there there was a sign on the door that I think pretty much epitomises the British approach to customer service:
Many of our staff are on sick absence today, but we chose to open in order to provide you with some service — albeit a slow one, so please be patient.
That's right, they're doing us a favour, so mustn't fucking grumble.

Anyway, my real gripe was when I got to the counter. The woman needed to input the destination address into the computer to calculate the rate, and because we were having trouble understanding each other already, I decided to just pass her the address label I'd prepared so she could copy it down. It read (with the specific details subtly changed to avoid angry internet randoms hunting me down):
20 Andrew Street, #14
Boston, MA 02116
She tapped away at her keyboard for a minute, then stopped, looking puzzled.
HER: What's this #14?
ME: Um... it's the flat number.
HER: Oh, so it's #14 Andrew Street?
ME: No, it's 20 Andrew Street. 14 is the flat number.
HER: The what?
ME: The flat number. The apartment number.
HER: So it's flat number 20.
ME: No, 14. 20 is the street number.
HER: The what?
I swear to God, we went back and forth like this far more times than you would believe plausible for someone whose job is 90% address related. In the end she just shrugged her shoulders and gave up.

HER: Postcode... So the postcode is, what, MA 021...
ME: No, the postcode is just 02116.
HER: So what's the MA?
ME: That's the state.
HER: The what?
ME: The state. Massachusetts.
HER: Wait... So what's the town?
ME: Boston. The town is Boston.
HER: And the postcode?
ME: 02116.
HER: And the MA?
I mean, look, I'm not some kind of imperialist American who believes that everyone in the world should be intimately familiar with all the intricacies of American address-writing conventions, but lady, come on: you work in a freaking post office! People will occasionally come to you wanting to mail things to other countries!

So, I laid down £50 to send this damn package, and frankly I don't have much confidence that I will ever see it again. Good thing it was mostly dirty laundry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wait...the raisin wheat is safe, right?

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