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2:09pm on Monday, 30th June, 2014:

All Human Life is There


I went to the Post Office today to send an iPod to Belgium on behalf of my younger daughter. No, I don't know why, either.

When I arrived, I was fourth in the queue. There was one cashier serving, as it was lunch time. Being served at the head of the queue was a woman who had taken some money out of some account and received £10 less than she was supposed to receive. This had happened half an hour earlier with a different cashier who was now at lunch. Both she and the remaining cashier seemed to have an interest in keeping talking about it for as long as possible. When one of them proposed a solution, the other would try to make that solution less inconvenient, with the resulting to-ing and fro-ing eventualling becoming cyclical. Eventually, the woman announced her mobile phone number and the cashier told her she'd call when her colleague got back.

Next in line was a woman sending a parcel containing tennis racquets to Scotland. She'd sold them over eBay. She wanted proof of posting, but the cashier was unable to supply it because the address on the parcel didn't exist. Again, there was much discussion about whether to risk sending them or not, which seemed to involve finding multiple different ways to ask "Should I send them or not?" and be answered "It's a risk if you do.". She finally decided not to risk it. Oh, and she had some drawings to send through the post, too. She didn't seem to regard those as a risk, but given how badly she'd packed them I'd estimate there to be maybe only an evens chance of their arriving without the sticky tape's coming off, scattering the package's contents to the four winds. Oh, and in the middle of this, the first woman came back and sheepishly admitted to having just found her lost £10 in her car.

Ahead of me was an old lady. "I just want a booklet of stamps", she said. She was lying. She also wanted to pay some money towards different utility company savings schemes. She had four or five cards, only two of which actually scanned properly (the cashier had to type the numbers of the others in by hand). Oh, and after paying for these, the old lady wanted to take some cash out of her pension account. Most of the money she got back was the same notes that she'd just handed over for the utility bills.

Finally it was my turn.
Me: I want to send this to Belgium, please.
Cashier: What's in it?
Me: An iPod.
Cashier: Does it have a battery?
Me: Yes
Cashier: Just let me check it's OK.
(She clicks on some things on the screen).
Cashier: No, you can't send that.
Me: Because it has a battery in it?
Cashier: Here's the chart."
(She digs out a chart with symbols on it and points at the one for No Lithium Batteries).
Me: Oh well, I guess I can't send it then.
Well-Meaning Customer Behind Me: You could take the battery out and send it separately.
Me: It's not my iPad.

I didn't mention that I'm pretty an iPod battery contains a battery.

Oh, the Post Office. All human life is there.

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).