Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The postman always thinks twice

M and I happened to be downstairs in the hallway this morning at the same time as the postman called. I now have a unique insight into why the postal system doesn't actually work on this soggy shard in the Atlantic.

We watch him approach through the smoky glass. We both expect the doorbell to ring - the doorbell that would allow someone not three feet away to be alerted to his presence at the door.

*soft knock*

What the? So this is why parcels never get delivered unless I spot postmen coming up the drive. There's a great, big doorbell on the doorframe. Big. Unmissable. I swallow my initial indignation and open the door.

*package thrust at me*

He doesn't even look me in the eye, just pushes it toward me. It's not for me, it's for C. It could equally be for the couple downstairs. Or, probably, for the people next door.

*he walks off*

I spot something on the parcel and call out for him to come back.

"What's this?" I say, pointing to the great, hollering-danger-orange sticker that says 'ID Recorded'

A heavily accented "I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know?"

"I don't know."

"It says 'ID Recorded' - did you record my ID? You didn't ask for my ID. You didn't even ask who I was."

*He trudges back, grasps the other end of the parcel and starts to pull it toward him.*

"What are you doing?"

"I can get you to sign for it if you want."

"No, no, I don't...that's not the point." A tug of war ensues. I win. "I want to know what this (pointing to sticker) means - does it mean that you're supposed to have recorded my ID?"

"Umm...it's from overseas."

"Yeeeees" By now I'm thinking it's more than a language barrier he and I have between us. It's reality barrier. "But the sticker says ID recorded. I want to know if someone paid extra to ensure that you took a signature before delivering this package."

"They usually have a red sticker over here." *points to other corner of package* "Then I usually record a signature."

"Sure, yeah. But what does THIS sticker over here mean?" I know full well that these stickers are from the Royal Mail. I've seen them on internal mail and parcels before.

"I don't know but it's from overseas."

"What difference does that make? Tell me what the sticker means."

"I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know? Who on earth is supposed to know?"

He looks at me angrily, I'm not playing by the rules. "What does this mean?"

"It probably means you're not doing your job."

"What?" He raises his voice. "I don't have time for this!" He turns on his heel and marches away.

He doesn't have time for this? Are we discussing sporting results? Is there something I'm missing in this whole conversation?

Matthew by now is holding onto one of my arms, no doubt concerned that I may leap out at this man's throat.

I eye the postman, haughtily sauntering his way up the next driveway, studiously avoiding any eye contact with me. No doubt saving his energy to help bring his ponderous intellect to bear on another insurmountable problem.

I can't help thinking that he's right now planning jihad against anything coming in to this address. Considering the fact that most parcels don't get delivered and credit cards routinely go missing I have no idea how on earth he could make the service any worse. With any luck, the dimwit will stop delivering the 1001 pizza and curry restaurant flyers that seem to form a second rug in the hallway by the end of the day.

M

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