The House with the Pink Shutters – Snail Mail. Samos Island Greece.
There’s always a dilemma when we return to the island as to where to get our mail sent to. New post office staff who don’t recognise us, a lack of a proper address and, as we recently discovered, postal employees do not understand Mitch’s Greek do not make it any easier.
Two years ago the previous postman knew that Pythagoria (Mitch)lived at the “House with the Pink Shutters” in Paleo and generally if we had something addressed to us in the village it arrived. However, this year all the staff have been replaced and have no idea who we are or where we live. So when I needed some supplies for my jewelery making we thought it best that it be sent to myself care of post office building where I could pick it up after identifying myself with my passport. Previously, this has worked well, aside from the time Mitch received a thank you card from some friends who had stayed at the house stating that he hoped that he enjoyed the belgium chocolates enclosed. Strangely the chocolates were nowhere to be found.
Since I had ordered from a supplier in the UK I figured not much could go wrong, I decided on snail mail. After all it “was really not that far away” and anyway the recorded delivery costs were more than the goods. The estimated time of arrival was 12 – 15 days after posting (add a little extra time for living on an island) so I estimated about 3 weeks maximum. I gave the postal system some leeway and 20 days after the goods had been posted I went to collect them.
It was a hot Monday morning, queues were long, there was no air-conditioning and one staff member serving. After long chats with customers and other staff members, disappearing for a considerable while, tidying her desk, counting money, drinking her tea, writing up her strategies on how to waste time; look busy and cause numerous customers to give up hope and melt into a puddle between actually serving someone, we finally made it to the front desk. She decided at that moment to get up and left leaving us looking into empty space for at least five minutes. After she had returned and fiddled around with paper for another 5 minutes, she asked us how she could help. We explained but she didn’t seem to understand Greek and had to consult her manager. The outcome was that the package had not arrived.
A week later we returned. It was the same woman and she didn’t recognise us and so we went through the same performance – the package was a no show.
A few days later our neighbour told us that the postman had come looking for a foreign woman who lived in the village but he would not leave the parcel with her. We returned to the post office. This time there were two people serving but despite the extra help we still waited for over 40 minutes before we made it to the front of the queue.
We were served by the same woman and this time something really got lost in the translation.
“Your parcel has been stolen ” she said
“My parcel has been stolen!!!!!!” I replied.
“From your doorway?” she continued.
“No the postman tried to deliver it and took it away as we were out” Mitch tried to explain again.
She just looked at us. The manager came over. Finally she checked and there was no parcel. At this point I gave up, changed the subject and asked
“how much does a P.O. Box cost per year?”
“Ah” she said, he (indicating the staff member next to her ) can tell you”. ‘He’ had a queue of people 10 deep and was clearly not going to give out ad hoc advice. Nor was she going to put herself out to turn her head, look across the meter that separated them and ask. I walked out in disgust.
The next thing I did was to contact the supplier and re-check that the goods had been sent. Yes they had. I decided that the post had lost them and was about to give up and reorder by courier. However, on the advice of a friend who told us “never visit on a Monday – its a blood bath” and with a Greek relative in tow for practical and moral support we had one more crack at it. The office was calm and quiet, there were new staff on the counter’s, they were efficient and polite and amazingly my parcel had arrived only – 6 weeks late and missing one item.
A while later we decide to test the system out again this time using our village address as the postman was now aware of our existence. We ordered a rewards card from the local supermarket. That was two months ago and yes we are still waiting.