Where Airmail Becomes Snail Mail

I feel about airplanes the way I feel about diets. It seems to me that they are wonderful things for other people to go on. ~Jean Kerr

I am perpetually confused by the Italian mail system.

Yesterday I went to the post office to mail some post cards.  When you go into the post office, you take a number…but there are three different buttons that you can push to get your number.  Apparently, they’re all for different things, but I still haven’t figured out which button gets you help with which.  I’ve pushed two different buttons and gotten helped both times.  When you push the button, you get a letter (A, E, or P) followed by a number (yesterday I got P 107).  There’s a sign with the counter number and a corresponding number on a slip to tell you which counter to go to in order to be helped.  This all seems simple and straight forward enough, until I discovered that the numbers do not necessarily go sequentially…go figure.  You’d expect P106 to come after P105, wouldn’t you?  False.  Apparently A260-something comes after P105.  Don’t ask me why.  All I know is that I ended up waiting for about 25 minutes to buy 2 stamps, when I was expecting to have to wait about 10.

The cost to mail something also varies depending on who you ask.  If you go into a local Tabacchi, they’ll tell you that it only costs 85 cents to mail something to the US.  It will get there…eventually.  If you go to the post office, on the other hand, it will cost you 1.60 euro.  It will get there, a little faster.  Go figure.

And even if you pay more, it will still take a while for mail to reach where you want it to go…and sometimes even longer for mail to reach you.  A package sent from Taiwan took over 3 weeks to get to me.  It would have taken half that time in the states, even though I am geographically close to Taiwan in Italy.

And so we have another of the perpetual conundrums of Italy–people aren’t really bothered by the fact that mail service is slow.  That’s just life.  Get over it.  Its not about you.  It’s about the community around you.  I will try to avoid buying stamps at the post office, but Italian mail will never cease to make me laugh…


One thought on “Where Airmail Becomes Snail Mail

  1. Rebecca says:

    Oh my gosh! The bank here has the same system. Except our three buttons depend on if you have a national ID card or a document or neither. And then there’s another question, something about ventanilla but it goes away too fast for me to read the whole thing. They mix up the A’s C’s and M’s. Does your post office play the same strange prank television show all day? 😉 Peruvian mail is also equally slow. Or perhaps worse. The postcards I sent in March have yet to arrive in the US. 😦

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