Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Adventure at a post office

Let me tell you a story.

I went to the post office with my envelope.
The envelope is from FedEx, made of manila card with a clear plastic pocket for the air waybill.
I used a sheet of A4 to tape over the orange and purple logo on the front and wrote the destination address there nicely. And slipped another piece of paper into the air waybill pocket to show the return address.

The girl at the counter asks, “Is this a letter?”
“Erm, this is not an envelope.’
“It is.”

She then goes to ask someone else if it is an envelope.
She returns, “No that’s not an envelope.”
“It is a courier service envelope.”

She leaves her position to consult with another colleague.
On her return, she tells me with an air of finality, “You cannot use this envelope.”
“Fine, sell me your envelope.”

For 60 cents, she gives me a normal brown paper envelope. I write the delivery address and tear open the beautiful FedEx package to repackage my goods. She eyes the contents suspiciously.
“What is that, you cannot send that as a letter.”
“Only documents can be sent as letters.”
“So how do I send it?”
“You need to send it as a small package.”

In the end, I decided not to mail it. I’ll repackage it properly as a ‘letter’ and mail it another day.

Online, wiser expatriates have advised exasperated newcomers to lower their expectations when in China. Expect everything to go wrong, and you’d be fine.


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