(Here we go...!)
So since moving to Damson Cottage (almost 2 years, would you believe it?) I've become a more frequent visitor to the Post Office as things such as birthday/ Christmas/ thought-you'd-like-this pressies have to arrive with family and friends by post rather than by my own fair hand. And, I kid you not, pretty much every conversation I have at the Post Office when I am sending a parcel goes like this:
Me: Hello! Standard second class, please. (I say this VERY clearly. I have a clear voice. I place parcel on weighing machine. I smile. Smiles go a long way in persuading people to give you what you want.)
Post Office Person: What's in the parcel?
Now, personally I don't think it is anyone's business what I send in a parcel. I, therefore, have two standard replies. If the parcel is hard, I say 'Books.' If it is soft, I say 'Clothes.'
(If it is a threat to national security, I say 'Live pirañas.' If this blog is being monitored by a Big Brother-style noseypants I shall expect a visit from fishing net armed police later today and to be suspended from my place of work tomorrow which at least means I'll be able to do some more gardening. This is a joke, by the way. The piraña thing. Well, you have to say, don't you? Maybe I should just delete the paragraph? Sigh....)
Back to the story.
Me: Clothes. (Soft parcel.)
P.O.P : First class?
Me : (trying not to roll eyes) Standard Second Class please.
P.O.P: Special delivery? Signed for?
Me: Standard Second Class. Thank you. (I have to say this rather firmly. Just to convince myself I know my own mind.)
Right, now here is a thing. What does the Post Office mean by 'value?' I get that, on the surface, they mean items or goods that cost more than £30. But what about tears of happiness? A hug from a child? An old letter written in the hand of a long-passed relative? The sneeze of a unicorn? Things that some, like the Post Office, might deem valueless yet others, like me, see as priceless. Am I thinking too deeply about this? More to the point, am I being awkward? Possibly. Probably. Anyway, because I have been caught out by this before and ended up paying a ridiculous sum of cash merely for being honest, my standard response now is...
P.O.P : Is there anything breakable in the parcel?
Right, now given I have JUST told her there are clothes in the parcel (there actually are - I wasn't fibbing on this occasion) I raise an eyebrow, not too ironically because I don't want to be kicked out of the Post Office for threatening staff with a non-verbal signal. What I really want to say is, 'Yes. Porcelain socks. And there is china in my pants.' For added T'Pau musical allusion. But I don't because I am guessing she is running low in her humour tank, if she has a humour tank at all. Thusly, I maintain a dignified silence, and merely shake my head.
And blow me down if she didn't squish the air from my parcel and pass it through the large letter slot thingy AGAIN! It went through easily THE FIRST TIME. Honestly, it was 9.05 on a Saturday morning and already I had one nerve left and she was getting on it.
And given the time it took for her to process my custom and the one pound and a few pee she got out of me, was it really worth the time and motion? I think not. Pah!
And employees don't have to keep to the script, do they? They're allowed to be individuals, aren't they? There are two P.O.Ps in our little Post Office. One sticks to the script and, unfortunately, I ended up at her counter yesterday. The other responds to a smile and a polite request. You get what you want when you visit her counter. She listens.