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In Australia one must post a card or letter at a post box or a post office.  There is no home pick up as there is in the USA.  So, this morning, even though I had a stamp on the card I was sending, a little niggle sent me inside the post office to double check I had the correct amount.  It changes all the time and is impossible to keep up with unless you are posting things regularly, which I am not.  When I got to the counter and explained to the clerk what I wanted to do, she noticed a bump through the envelope and the following conversation ensued:

Her (pointing to the bump);“Is that only a card?”

Me; “Yes, it’s just a fancy card with an embellishment on it”.

Her; “ Well, it will cost a dollar more and you will have to fill out a customs declaration form”

Me (laughing and shaking my head); “No, no, it’s just a caaard (slowly with emphasis)”

Her (not laughing AT ALL); “Well, if there is anything but paper in the envelope they will x-ray it, so you MUST declare it”.

Me (not laughing any longer); “Seriously???”

She handed me the form and I started giggling at the absurdity of it all.  She was still not laughing.  So by way of explanation, and not wanting to completely spoil her day, I said:  “Look, I don’t wish to be rude, and I certainly am not pointing this at you personally, but I have to laugh.  We pay more and more all the time for posting things and the service is worse and what we have to go through is more and more complex and yet no one ever explains this to us until we come in and try to do business.  I am currently waiting for a parcel I ordered four weeks ago which I paid $20 postage for and which is simply four boxes of gluten free crackers (a type which I cannot buy locally).  It is not coming from overseas, simply from interstate, and this is one in a series of many parcels over the last 18 months I have had a problem with.”

Her; “Have you spoken with someone about it?”

Me (shaking my head and starting to laugh again… good grief I think it must have been utter frustration that was prodding me to laughter); “Oh, yes, many times.  I have even found the national online Australia Post website and made complaints to them, but the same reason is always given, ‘it is the fault of the delivery contractor’.”

She then chimed in saying ‘yes, it seems ridiculous you can get better service in Sydney!’ (I presume she was saying this because where we live is such a small place -27,000- and one would think service here would be better than a city the size of Sydney… yes, one would…)

I underscored her observation by saying “Why is it the fault of the contractor, and not whoever has repeatedly hired incompetent contractors? And why doesn’t someone sack them and get someone who can do the job?? Surely there must be someone out there who is willing to do the job responsibly? Eighteen months or longer this has been going on!” (Believe it or not, I was still smiling and chuckling).  As I finished up the transaction, customs declaration and all, I bid her a pleasant day and left her somewhat bewildered, I think.  But perhaps, just perhaps, her memory of the crazy, laughing customer might prod her to mention to the ‘powers that be’ all is not well out there in the kingdom of those who pay their wages!!!

(I love that I can write about this and it makes me feel better.  What would you like to write about that would make you feel more empowered??)