Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Postal Frustration

I decided to take a trip to a different China Post office today during lunch. I had to mail a card for my grandmother's 92nd birthday and thought it was a good excuse to get motivated and write a few other postcards for friends and family.
I arrived at the post office and there were only a couple customers. They all stared at the foreigner as usual. The guy behind the counter looked at me and took my postcards. He stared awkwardly at them; attempting to read them. "Meiguo," I said and pointed to the cards. He nodded and kept looking at the cards to figure out what they said. After a couple minutes he finally took out some stamps. He stuck 6-jiao stamps on each and asked for pay. I was a little surprised. I've sent many a postcard in China and they always cost 4.5 kuai, not an 1/8 the price as he was charging me. I looked at him and repeated, "Meiguo," and added, "feiji." (Translation: America, airplane.) I thought that would get the point across. He picked up the postcards and tried to read them again. He handed them to a girl standing nearby and she tried to read them as well. He showed me one of them and pointed to "USA" in my handwriting. I slowly and deliberately repeated, "Meiguo." He still didn't understand. He just went looking through a book for prices of some sort. I sent a message to my girlfriend and asked her for the words for air mail. It was then that the man found a bunch of 2 kuai stamps to add to the 6 jiao that was already there. He couldn't figure out what to do with the new stamps now that he used up some of the space with worthless, oversized stamps. I sent another message stating that this guy was an idiot. I received a reply of some Chinese characters followed by "show this to the idiot."
It was too late, he stuck all the stamps on the cards and asked for money. After paying him, he continued to try to read.
Next time, I'm using an envelope and writing instructions for the idiots behind the counter.

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