Yesterday morning the doorbell rang unexpectedly at 07:30 and distractedly I accepted a package that wasn’t for me.  By the time I realised it, it was too late to hand it back to the postman so I thought I would take it to the Post Office on the way to my morning chores.

This was a big mistake.

Usually, knowing my own sensitivity when it comes to all things post office, I mentally prepare myself if I am doing anything more complicated than buying a stamp.  I give myself a good talking to and go over possible scenarios in my head whilst practising deep breathing and calming exercises. 

Here is an example of a scenario that would require a lot of deep breathing for me and isn’t too far removed from the truth.

“I would like to send this package the cheapest way possible.”

“Impossible Madam.”

“I just want to send it second class or whatever.”

“You can’t Madam.  It weight 3.1kgs which means that it is now a parcel. “

“What is the maximum weight before it becomes a parcel?”

“3.09kgs Madam”

“But if you hadn’t stuck all those “THIS IS A PARCEL” stickers on it, it wouldn’t be a parcel.”

“Yes, I do agree that that is unfortunate Madam.  However, as it is a parcel, it has to go with Parcelforce which means that you are looking at a starting price of £25.  What is the value of the contents?”

“Much less than £25!  It’s only papers.”

“Oh well in that case, you can mark it PRINTED MATTER and it is slightly cheaper to send.”

“Great, let’s do that then.”

“Please hand over the package Madam. “  Immediately he sticks 5 PRINTED MATTER stickers onto the package.

“Now please place it on the scale again”

“How much will it cost?”

“£25, Madam.”

“But you just said it was cheaper if it was printed matter!”

“Yes Madam, but your package now weighs 3.15kgs which means it now qualifies as an anvil…”

You get the picture.  Usually at this point, my head explodes and I have to lie down for half an hour and visualise my happy place.

Yesterday however I did none of this.  I just left the house merrily thinking that it was fairly easy and simple, I would drop it off, say it wasn’t for me and then carry on with my day.

How wrong I was.

I get to the Baker Street Post office just after their 9am opening time.

There are 9 windows available, only one of them manned.  There are about four people ahead of me in the queue.  The lady at the (one) open cashier is paying her utility bills.  With coins.

 

We wait.

 

Eventually, a voice comes over the PA system.

“Cashier number one, please!”

As far as we could see, the cashier windows started at 2.  The person at the front of the queue looked nonplussed.

“Cashier number one, please!”     

 Again we looked around.  There was no number one.  To the left of number two was a passport photo booth.

“Cashier number one please!”

Even though it is a recording, it was beginning to sound impatient.  Eventually, with all of us smiling and nodding encouragingly, the guy at the front of the queue peers into the photo booth. 

“Sorry!” we could hear him say [need I remind you that we live in England where we apologise for everything, including camouflaged cashier windows] “I couldn’t see the window…”

The queue continued to move slowly.  Eventually it was my turn. 

“Cashier number one, please!”

I ventured into the booth.  Immediately I felt trapped.  I put on my best friendly face.  My family and friends don’t call me a little ray of sunshine for nothing you know – oh wait, my family and friends don’t call me a little ray of sunshine at all.

“Hi,” I started. “I received this package earlier today and it isn’t actually for me.”

“Nothing to do with us.  That’s Royal Mail.  They’re in charge of delivery.” There stood a short, grumpy looking woman peering at me through her glasses.  I took an immediate dislike to this woman.  She had the look of a woman who would call the police if you accidentally knocked into her shopping trolley with yours at the supermarket, or who would file a noise complaint at 23:01.  Her glasses were thick bottomed and slipping down her nose (not a sin obviously) and she reminded me of the Monsters Inc Character Roz only Roz seemed sweeter.

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“Right,” I answered, still smiling, “Be that as it may, I would like to make sure it isn’t re-delivered to my flat since it isn’t for me.”  I crossed out the name of my building.

“You’ve just erased part of the address.  That’s not very helpful is it?”

“I am trying to make sure that it doesn’t come back to my place again.  I have left the flat/house number, the street and the postcode on there.”

“You’ve just ruined a perfectly addressed parcel.  What are we supposed to do with it now?”

“Use the information left on the package to send it to the right person.” I answered.  I refrained from pointing out that it if it was so perfectly addressed, then it wouldn’t arrived at the wrong destination.

“We can’t now you have destroyed the address.”

I took a deep breath. 

“First of all, I haven’t destroyed the address, I have merely erased the two words that made it come to the wrong place. Second-”

“We have nothing to do with delivery.  That’s Royal Mail.”

“I got that the first time you said it, thanks, but it seems to me that this is where all of Royal Mail’s deliveries start out. Or maybe there is a way of by-passing this torture that I have not been made aware of. I could have just written wrongly addressed on it and shoved it into a post box and missed out on your attitude to be honest.  However it doesn’t fit in a post box and so I brought it to you because it was wrongly addressed.”

“How do you know that person doesn’t live at 53 Ashford House*?”

“Because I live at 53 Ashford House and I am not Gavi or Davi or whoever it’s for.” I answered exasperated.

“We don’t have anything to do with delivery, that’s Royal Mail.  Maybe there’s another Ashford House somewhere else.  You’ve just crossed out the possibility of it ever getting there.”

“That’s not true.  Had I had the time this morning, I could have inputted the postcode into any address finder and re-addressed the parcel myself.  All anyone needs is the postcode and the house/flat number which we have.  I didn’t have time however, and frankly that’s more your line of work than mine.”

“We have nothing to do with delivery.  That’s Royal Mail.”

“I’VE GOT THAT!!!”  I said, rather loudly. “If you can’t help me, just return it to sender, there’s an address on the back.”

She sighed and opened the flap in front of her.  “Fine.  Give it to me. It’s nothing to do with us.”

She snatched the parcel out of my hands and whilst still looking me in the eye she – wait for it – threw it over her shoulder towards (but not into) the bins they have for the parcels.  It hit the bin and fell behind it, hidden from view.

I could feel the rage building up inside of me, and thought I should leave before I woke up completely disorientated with an ASBO.

“Thanks very much.” I choked out and left quickly before I could say anything else.  I was shaking with anger and when I looked up that anger was joined by acute embarrassment when I realised that the people in the queue were staring at me agape wondering what kind of woman would be having such an impassioned argument at the Post Office.  With a photo booth.

It took me from the Baker Street Post Office to Portman Square to stop shaking, I was so annoyed. 

I only calmed down when I entered the soothing familiarity of M&S.

So next time you are in Baker Street and need something posting, just go ahead take it there yourself.  Because, in case you missed it the first five times, the Post Office in Baker Street are not responsible for delivering mail. 

That’s Royal Mail.

 

*Not my real address obviously, although apologies if it is anyone’s real address.  You’ll be receiving a package soon…..

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