Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Further Adventures at the Sri Lankan Post Office

I'm telling you, they could do an entire sitcom at the Sri Lankan Post Office. I mean the talent fees would be incredible, what with the very large ensemble cast, but it would be freakin' hilarious.

Scene 1: Very tired and soaking wet foreigner arrives at the dingy post office exactly 30 minutes after it should open. No one is around except one guy by the door to make sure there is no bomb in her packages and a few people who should be considered extras, but who seem to actually work at the post office.

Scene 2: About 15 minutes later and it is obvious no one has even spoken to the poor foreigner. She begins to inquire with extras, who completely ignore her. Then one goes and finds forms and hands them to foreigner. She dutifully fills them out, being careful to write each item being shipped in the duty section. When she motions that she is done, the formerly nice guy just stares at her. Finally he indicates that it isn't his job and foreigner is once again standing by herself with no indication when the process will actually begin.

Scene 3: Another 15 minutes later and finally the guy whose job it is to weight packages has arrived.

Weighing guy: "It is raining. See, I am wet."
Foreigner: "Yes, I'm wet too, so are my packages."
He indicates she should bring her packages in to be weighed. The weight each package and say all together 30 kg.
Weighing guy: "If they were all one package we'd charge you for 30 Kg. but since they are in three packages we have to charge you for one 15 kg and two 10 kg packages.
Foreigner: "But that isn't how much they weigh. One package is only 7 kg and the other is 8. Please just charge me for 30."
Weighing guy: "O.k. just tape them up."
Foreigner looks surprised because she had been told that they would go through each box and charge a duty on every single item. She takes this as a positive sign and begins the arduous process of taping her boxes. Two rolls of tape later she is satisfied with her job.
Foreigner: "O.k. all taped up."
Weighing guy: "That will be three packages... this one is 5,800 ruppees, and the two smaller ones are 4,000 rupees each."
Foreigner: "But you said you'd just charge me for 30 kg. That would be 5000 rupees less!"
Weighing guy: "No miss, these are government rules."
Foreigner: "Can I tape the two smaller boxes together and just be charged at the 15 kg price?"
Weighing guy: "You have three boxes."
Foreigner: "Yes, I know, but I'm asking if I tape them together to make one box, will you accept that?"
Weighing guy: "You have three boxes."
Foreigner: "Please just listen to me. Can I tape them together to make one box?"
Weighing guy: "You have three boxes."
Scene 4: Cut back to 15 minutes later and the same conversation continues.

Finally a nice man comes up and actually listens to the foreigner.
Nice man: "Of course, tape them together and we'll charge you for one package."
Foreigner: "Can you swear you will only charge me for one, because I've already been told once you would and now I've spent the last 15 minutes trying to find another solution."
Nice man: "Yes miss, tape them together."
Scene 5: 10 minutes later and the foreigner has used yet another roll of tape to tape together the two boxes. Another nice man comes out to use some twine and tie the boxes together.
Foreigner: "There, just two boxes total now."
Weighing man: "So that is one box at 15 kg and one at 20."
Foreigner: "What. No, they are both 15 kg."
Weighing man: "No, the second box is 15.4 kg."
Foreigner: "I think your scale is broken. When I weighted them at home with a new scale they were a little less, which would make it only 15 kg. Have a heart, I'm on local wages. As it is this is going to cost one-third of my monthly salary."
Scene 6: Cut to 10 minutes later.
Weighing man: "Fine, here is your receipt."
Foreigner: "Thank you very much."
Scene 7: Cut to three months later. Foreigner is enjoying a cup of coffee at home when packages arrive completely destroyed and with nothing in them.

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