The Post-Post Post

July 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Posted in Bun, Transylvania | 24 Comments
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The Post-Post Post: How to Receive Packages in Romania

1. Open your mailbox and pull out a slip of paper. Look it over and deduce that you have a package waiting for you at the post office. Hooray!

2. Attempt to drive to the post office where you have mailed packages to the United States before. Get a little lost.

3. Figure out where you are, and find your way again. Feel a little proud that you did this all by yourself, didn’t stall out, and didn’t get honked at.

4. Find a place to park at a grocery store. Unload the baby. Worry you might be towed. Worry even more about trying to parallel park somewhere. Cross your fingers and leave your car where it is.

5. Walk to the post office. Dodge buses, taxis, and crazy commuters. Sweat a lot. When your elbow goes numb, wonder why you didn’t put the baby in the stroller.

6. Go inside and wait in line. Watch somebody cut in front of you. Give him the evil eye, and hope the baby starts crying so he’ll be sorry.

7. Talk to the teller and deduce that you are in the wrong line. Wait in a new line. Sweat.

8. Get to the front of the line. Talk to the teller and deduce that you are in the right line. But you’re at the wrong post office.

9. Take the map she gives you and walk outside. Try to orient yourself. Curse. Sweat.

10. Using your limited Romanian vocabulary, rely on adverbs and prepositions such as “here,” “there,” and “across the street” to ask a series of random strangers where the heck you are going. Don’t be shy about jiggling and shuffling the baby on your hip so as to evoke sympathy from these strangers.

11. Arrive at your destination. Pull on the door. Curse when it is locked. Soothe your baby, who is now red-cheeked and cranky.

12. Ask the lady who walks up beside you where the post office is. Listen as she says a whole lot of stuff you don’t understand, but head in the direction she points. Sweat.

13. Find the post office! Open the door! Wait in line!

14. Get to the front of the line. Talk to the teller and deduce that you are in the wrong line. Curse.

15. Wait in a new line. Notice that the guy you will have to talk to looks a lot like Jean Reno from Mission Impossible. Fret that he’s going to be mean. Wonder if this will be your first opportunity to bribe a Romanian official, as is custom. Sweat.

16. Approach Jean Reno and hand him your package slip. Ask tentatively, “Aici? Here?” Wait for him to yell at you. Just about collapse to the floor with relief when he smiles instead and says, “Yes. Just a moment.”

17. Decide he must have taken pity on you, the pale American with sweat fogging up her glasses and making drippy splotches on the baby’s shoulder. Decide you are totally okay with being pitied.

18. When he comes back with a large U.S. Priority Mail box, realize you have never been as glad as you are right now to see that red and blue logo with the white eagle on it. Don’t even blink when Jean Reno says, “I need to open your package for a customs inspection.”

19. Imagine the M&Ms and pancake syrup inside the box and smile like a goofball as he rifles through your box. Set the baby down so he can crawl across the dusty floor eating bits of discarded packing tape while you fill out some forms you don’t really understand.

20. Happily pay Jean Reno the “customs tax” he asks for. Happily collect your package and baby. Happily head out into the heat to sweat some more.

21. Get back to the lot where you parked. Panic when you don’t see your car. Debate ripping into the M&Ms and eating the whole bag.

22. Find your car. Sigh with relief. Buckle in the baby, crank up the AC, and hug your box.

23. Find your way home (without getting lost!). Go inside and hug your box some more. Take some pictures of it. Wonder if you should wait to unpack it until Lollipop and Giggles get home from school since they love mail, too.

24. Catch a whiff of perfume-sample ads and realize there are back issues of People magazine in the box. Forget waiting for the kids. Dump it out on the table like it’s your stocking on Christmas morning.

25. Hug your M&Ms. Hug your black beans and syrup. Hug your fly swatter. Virtually hug your parents for sending you all this stuff.

26. Spend the day sharing M&Ms with the baby, catching up on celebrity gossip, and smacking flies without mercy. Make your favorite black bean soup for dinner. Debate putting your box under your pillow but settle for giving it one last hug before you drift off to sleep, dreaming of French spies, stamps that attack, and piles and piles of perfectly fluffy pancakes.

Have you ever had a post office fiasco? Played the “baby card” to get a little sympathy? Or received a package you wanted to hug?

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24 Comments »

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  1. Whew!
    You totally Earned that package. I hope you ate all the M&Ms yourself :)

  2. I had moments like this when I lived in London. The hugging, that is. Not the language problems. But the queuing was in there…

  3. “Forget waiting for the kids. Dump it out on the table like it’s your stocking on Christmas morning.”

    HA! I so know this one. glad you found it! don’t hesitate to message me on facebook and if I get it in time I can help you with some of this stuff!! and I know the joy of the box receiving and the joy when watching someone else thumb through your package and you see things! lol.

  4. Oh, man. I don’t think I’ve ever had quite so eventful a trip to the post office! I enjoyed reading about yours, which I’m glad turned out okay. :)

    I don’t think I’ve intentionally played the baby card, but I’ve been delighted to accept the offerings of those who’ve seen me struggling with my baby. I ♥ those people.

    I’ve definitely received a package I wanted to hug! My time in South Korea was pretty difficult, so that when I received a package from my little sister around Easter, I knew exactly what it was. I waited till I’d gotten back to my apartment to open it, but only barely. I hugged the package the candy-filled package the whole way back. Mmm.

  5. Loved this! My thing was Smarties. (chocolate not the ones from the USA), and salt and vinegar chips from Canada. :) I haven’t tried the baby card and now my babies? Are too big. I wonder if the preteen card works?

  6. I’m glad it was worth it! My story is not nearly as interesting but when I moved away from home to go to University I used to love getting mail (and thankfully my mom and grandma were super-good at sending me something at least weekly). I used to love it when I’d come home from class and see that my roommates had propped some envelopes (or boxes, even better!) against my bedroom door.

  7. And yet it’s exasperating experiences like this that will teach you the language, and orient you with some local folks! And make you really appreciate those M&M’s. Congrats on braving it all.

  8. Wow! I’m stressed out just reading that!

  9. I remember thinking how weird it is that in Europe, cutting in line is totally acceptable. I went to a local fair (like the North GA fair, but in rural Italy!) and NO ONE waited in lines- it was just push to the front. Survival of the fittest, I guess! Glad you got your treats- you deserve it!

  10. Fun to read, probably not fun to go through! I’m always thrilled with a box on my front porch from Am.a.zon or B&N.

  11. Stacia – Loved your story and felt your pain in finding the post office & sense of relief when you found the right place & got your package. Glad it had M&Ms and magazines….two things to make you feel better :) Hope you and the kiddos are doing well!

  12. How wonderful to get a package! How awful to have to go through so much to get it! My sophomore year of college, the dorky guy who worked the mailroom used to create weird elaborate signs about the Package Pickup Monster, and I was willing to brave even that awkwardness for some mail love. I’ve been known to sprint when I think the mailman is going to refuse to leave a package here because my dog is in the yard. Anything to avoid having to haul all three kids to the post office.
    Oh, and yes, I try to play the baby sympathy card all the time. Most recently today at my extremely user unfriendly library.

  13. I thought Australia Post was bad but now I just feel lucky. I definitely would have scoffed the whole bag in the carpark! x

  14. What an adventure! Oh my goodness, I have to admit it was fun to read. (Sorry for that, LOL)

  15. Good Lord, you made ME sweat just reading that! Glad you got a good package, though!

  16. Ugh, I would TOTALLY be in a sweat, too! Wow, what an adventure! But at least it was worth it! :-) Great story telling!

  17. RE: Have you ever had a post office fiasco?

    When I lived in the Philippines, for a while I was responsible to make a regular trip to the post office to pick up mail for roughly 200 others that I was serving with. Packages frequently arrived with that same blue and red logo on the side, and often the people they were sent to knew the packages were coming and very anxiously awaited their delivery. Almost weekly, when we picked up the packages from the post office, I had to feel sorry for at least one or two recipients because of the holes on the side of the packages. Holes not from post office personnel rifling through the boxes, but from rodents who apparently could smell the homemade cookies inside.

  18. Stacia, your post made me cry and laugh at the same time! I was expecting to see you write something about that official confiscating your M&Ms and you being deported for not giving them up after all you had just been through. Glad it all worked out in the end, but what an ordeal! I bet those were the best M&Ms you’ve ever eaten.

  19. Oh my Stacia! Holding my breath while reading your post. Thank goodness you finally got the package. Getting mail/boxes is one of my favorite things to do. So I understand your wanting to wait for Lollipop and Giggles…

  20. So, so, so glad that you got your M&Ms. Were they melty? Please tell me they weren’t melty! I can’t think of a super dramatic post office story, but in general, I hate going there. The new thing at my post office is to have one employee dedicated to helping people use the self-serve machine. Fine, except no one WANTS to use the self-serve machine. If I’m sending a package, I want the assurance of sending it from the main desk. I just do. And I don’t want the Liberty Bells they stock the machine with, I want to take my good damn time and pick out some pretty stamps.

    • Rest easy, they weren’t melty. They were little disks of crunchy, chocolatey goodness … And I enjoyed every one. Except for the 8 or 10 I shared with the kiddos. =>

  21. Sheesh, what an adventure! I’ve never liked going to the PO, even here in the States when signs are clearer and people speak the same language. It always seem otherworldly to me for some reason.

    And I do recall a wonderful package coming from a very special someone … it totally made my day – no year!

  22. Hilarious and terrible! I love how you tell this experience. What a nightmare. And I am amazed at how well you kept your cool for so long. Wretched, wretched. And thank goodness for parents and how they know just what to send. Love it.

  23. [...] two short hours, we would have the last souvenir from our fantastic, sometimes frustrating, occasionally frantic year in [...]


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