Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Postal Service.

This is a little story of two very different postal experiences. I know, it sounds thrilling doesn’t it? I just had to laugh at the striking differences between the Swiss and Italian systems and thought I would share.

While in Switzerland, we ventured to the Post quite a few times, as it was where we had to pay the rent, and also where we sent 6 large boxes westward before we set out on our travels.
Here, you walk in to a spacious lobby, where many items are sold; from cards, postcards and books, to computers and digital cameras, and of course, materials for shipping items. There are about 10 windows, each corresponding with the appropriate letter, A-J. There is also a separate info desk, where you can purchase things separately, without going to the window, which is used primarily for sending things. There is a box where you grab a ticket with a corresponding number. These numbers flash on a screen, in which a letter is shown next to it, and you walk to that corresponding window. Voila. Even for someone who isn’t German speaking, this was easy to figure out and quick.
Total: 15 minutes.

In Italy, the system is a bit different. You walk into a tiny lobby, in which there are people standing everywhere, so called ‘lines’ in every direction. There are 3 windows and when you are halfway in one line, lugging a huge box, you get yelled at. You are in the wrong line and are redirected by way of furious pantomime to the other line. So, you get into the other line, which is cramped and blocking the door. And, there are people coming in, and everyone is squeezing in..nice and tight. And there are only 3 windows, and the line isn’t moving. After 30 minutes, you make it up to the window. Your transaction takes a little time, since you are sending a box to the US and need to fill out the various forms. The people behind you get impatient. They start to push forward and a few even have the nerve to push you to the side, yelling inquiries to the woman behind the glass, who is still trying to help you. Then, they have the nerve to shove your paperwork aside, so they can push their papers in the view of the woman, who is still supposed to be helping you. She desperately tries to keep her cool, and tries to appease everyone by setting aside your papers briefly to get this other guy out of the way. This occurs at least twice more, where you are shoved aside, so someone of more importance can have their business taken care of. Your transaction takes upwards of 30 minutes,and when you are finished, you spend 3 minutes squeezing your way through the lines back out the door.
Total: 1 hour, 3 minutes spent in the post office.

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