Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 50 Bureaucratic blues

The highlight of my day was a late morning hour-long visit with Postitalia, the local post office. I wanted to send home a box of clothes to make room in my suitcase.

Two people sat behind the counter. One deals with mail the other with banking. One of my housemates, I don't recall whether it was Barbara or Frances, got in the wrong line one day and got punished for it by being kept waiting an extra long time.

I made sure I stood in the right queue. When my turn came Vincenzo, the clerk. had difficulty locating the appropriate customs declaration. But he found it, in time. I stood to the side and filled it out while he served the next customer. But just as I handed it back to him, the postal pick-up driver arrived.  

Vincenzo was deeply apologetic (He took a liking to me after he discovered I live not too far from the Niagara Falls Casino – I don’t know, something about televised poker.) but he'd have to take care of the driver first.  I stepped to the side once more.

Vincenzo counted and recounted envelopes. He tapped on his computer, printed out forms, stamped them furiously front and back and initialled them. That done, he placed a handful of registered mail envelopes in a big yellow plastic box along with one of the forms, covered it and sealed the box with a bendable plastic strip emblazoned with a barcode. He started the same process with insured mail only to discover he was one piece short. Vincenzo cut open the seal on the first box and started counting all over again.

I was fascinated but the line behind me was growing and growling.

Vincenzo finally turned his attention to my box. There was much scratching of the sparse-haired head as he tried puzzled over the tariff to Canada. In time, he concluded my 5.5 kilos of used clothes would cost me 70 Euros to ship.

Anything cheaper, I ask? Do boats still cross the ocean? He found another form that offered a shipping cost of 50 Euros.

If I were you, he advised, I wouldn't bother. I said, you're right, Vincenzo, hoisted the box and left.  

A courtyard in a Calimera

A porcelain head in a Calimera shop window

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