Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 52 - Who really calls the shots?

You'd be forgiven if you thought this was something ancient, photographed on the camino. It is in fact the door of my post box, courtesy of my local post office.

So picture this.

I empty my postbox, which by the way, is mostly filled with junk mail. I try and close it but because it's so rusted, the door won't close. Instead it just hangs there like something that's just decided to give up. It looks a bit like I feel at that moment. 

To cut a long story short - the guy who happened to be fixing the car wash machine took pity on me, came over and bashed the door shut with his hammer.  
After reporting the poor state of my post box to the post office three (that's correct, three times) I decided to give it one more go about two weeks ago. I knew the thing was probably just filling up with more junk but what if I finally do get that notification that I've struck gold and won a lotto of sorts and I missed out because there was a due date... And what about the bills - well, who cares about that. Point being, I had to access my postbox.

So I end up having a talk with Vincent, the guy in charge of our local  post office. Our conversation went something like this.

Me: I believe you are the person in charge. I've called three times now and nobody has been to fix my rusted postbox door. I'm unable to open it and I'm expecting a really important letter. (Well, aren't we always expecting something important?)
Vincent: Ma'm, you live by the sea, you must expect things to rust.
Me: Speechless for a while.
Vincent: Hallo?
Me: Well Vincent, I know I live by the sea but I'm paying rental for this postbox and I expect to be able to use it. If the door has rusted to pieces and I can't open it, you are not fulfilling your part of the contract that we have with each other.
Vincent: Ma'm, if we have to repair doors we will have to increase the rental amount.
Me: Speechless again. (He's kidding, right?)

By this stage I knew I was fighting a losing battle but I decided to soldier on.

Me: So Vincent. Is there a department within the post office structure that I can contact regarding this repair as clearly neither you or I are going to be able to fix the door. And I really need to get to my post.
Vincent: I can't promise anything but I'll send an email.
Me: Will you be sending it today?
Vincent: I'll try but I can't promise. We're very busy.
Me: Can I give you my telephone number so that you can call me when you get feedback - or even better, let the repair people call me when I can access my post again.
Vincent: You can give it to me if you really want to.

At this stage I felt as if I was Alice in Wonderland and decided that whatever treasure happened to find it's way into my postbox will probably never be read by me as I might as well throw the key away...  
The next day I decided to go and meet Vincent in person anyway. As he seemed to think that he had the power to make decisions regarding increasing rentals, surely he could instruct someone to fix a darn door!

So it came about that Vincent and I finally faced each other across a counter in the post office. He's a big guy. I'm no match physically but boy was I ready for a fight at that stage!

Me: So, Vincent. Do you have any news for me regarding my postbox door?
Vincent: I sent an email.
Me: Who did you send it to?
Vincent: To the name that is on my list of people in charge of repairs.
Me: So when can I expect to have access to my post?
Vincent: They haven't replied to me.

I could feel the veins on the side of my forehead starting to jump but I knew I was defeated. Asking him if this mysterious department had a telephone would just be futile. The next best thing I could think of was to ask him for a copy of the email he sent so that I could follow it up myself.

To my surprise he actually produced an email and he had indeed sent it the day before.

This morning, after another week had gone by, I decided to attempt opening the door of the postbox once again. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry but lo and behold, somebody had actually fixed it. I immediately searched for the bill with my new increased charges, as the 'repairs department' clearly had to be taken out of hibernation to see to this unreasonable request of mine.

There was none of course and I wished Vincent was there so that I could rub his nose in my victory.

I will say - finding only a bunch of adverts, a 2011 calender with a local estate agent smiling broadly at me and my telephone bill seemed liked a huge anti climax!


  1. Do you dare tell Vincent he's now known the world over!! Congrats on sticking to your guns!!

  2. Hi, Emilene. When we had problems with mailbox bashing on our street, the police suggested we get the post office to allow us to move it inside our long driveway. The post office agreed (unheard of). I feel sorry for the others on the street who are still having bashing problems.

  3. Karin - honestly, I think old Vincent is best left ruling his little roost, I shudder to think what new increases he would cook up if he knew he had an international audience!

    Margaret - luckily our boxes are all in a very safe, central spot at our local filling station, it's just that it's exposed to the elements. What a sad thing that there are people (do we call them that?) who go around bashing mailboxes!!

  4. emilene: Welcome to New Hampshire! Vincent is very well known here in the States, depending on how far outside the cities you wish to reside. In New Hampshire, Vincent repaired the pumps on water wells. If he said he would be there on Tuesday, he arrived on Tuesday. As long as you were not particular about which Tuesday, everything was cool. In Vermont, Vincent just said, "Yup." Now that we reside in sunny Florida, things are much different. Vincent makes incorrect repairs quite promptly.

  5. Emilene - I just made a scene in my local library because of this post!
    I snorted so loudly with tears in my eyes that one of the librarians asked if i was ok. It took me a couple of minutes to compose myself from the apoplexy i was experiencing before she left me alone.
    Thank you!!!


  6. Chris! Thank you so much - now you've made me laugh again! :)


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