Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Post Office

Italy has the reputation of having the worst post office in the world. That must be an exaggeration! I was impressed by the efficiency that I saw! Any issues were solely on the part of the user, who had a terrible time translating the options available.

I bought some postcards to send through snail mail. It’s fun to get unexpected mail, don’t you think? (Hint, hint) I wrote them out and addressed them, and then discovered that I had no idea how much postage to put on them, and had no Italian stamps, so located a post office, a couple of blocks from my apartment, and went in.

It is pretty large, and reminds me of the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) at home. When you enter there is a long counter were the postal clerks are. Above them is a station number and an electronic sign indicating which "ticket number" they are serving. In front of the counters are a lot of chairs for being seated while waiting (that was a scary thought). I looked for the place to obtain the tickets.

There is a machine as you enter the building with four options for services. This is were things started to break down. I pulled out my phrase book, and did not find any of the words that were listed there! That is one problem with phrase books....the English word is not necessarily what it is called elsewhere, and the word listed in Italian does not necessarily translate literally. In order to be served the most quickly, I took a ticket from each service! I sat down to wait for my number to be called. The numbers moved pretty quickly (especially since I had 4 to keep up with). Finally one of my four numbers came up and I proceeded to the counter. I handed over my ticket and my postcards. The clerk said that my ticket was the wrong one for stamps, I needed to press "Green". I thanked her and went back to the ticket distributor.

The tickets that I had previously pulled had no clues as to which one came from which service, so I had to request another one. I pressed the "green" one, and on it was printed "Basic". Well that makes sense that getting steps would be a "basic" postal service.

I went back to wait for my number to be called. Finally it was my turn, but another man had went to the counter! I checked my ticket again, checked the number above the clerk, and Yep. He had cut in line! I approached the counter and waved my number at the clerk. She said to the man, "Do you have a ticket?" He explained to her that he had 229, the number before me, but he wasn’t paying attention when it was called, so he came up when the next one was called. (I understood him saying this in Italian, aren’t you proud?). She nodded at me, and said just a minute, so I waited until he was finished.

It was my turn so I handed her the postcards and asked for Dieci affrancaturra, per favore.. (10 stamps, please). She smiled and handed them over!

The postcards are on their way to a few of you. Let me know when they arrive, so that I can assess the bad reputation. If you wanted to send something my way, that would be fine too.

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