The Chinese Post Office continues to excel. We’ve had scraps before. This was the outfit that wouldn’t let me send Christmas cards in different sized envelopes, or send copies of my thesis to an Australian university in any box but their own.
Yesterday I went to the nearest post office, a modest, easy to miss place in a laneway around the corner. It had a new master. As soon as I said Australia (O’daliaah) he waved me away. I just wanted to send an ordinary letter to my mother, which I’ve done before. No, for foreign mail I had to go to a different office, properly authorized for such things. So, 20 minutes walk away I came to another sprawling establishment. It even had a deserted counter for stamp collectors. In a country where red is the colour of happiness, luck and prosperity, the Chinese Postal Service’s ruling colour is dark green — pleasant enough on the face of it, but as an antonym to the spirit of red, somehow predictive. Like the army of irrelevant Internet censors, this seems to be an organization heavily into strangling the Chinese people’s energy and mutilating the country’s push for prosperity.
Several women sat at empty windows. They waved me away to a single working window. Getting to that window was a rugby scrum. I shoved an arm through the melee like everyone else. She looked at the envelope, the same as the ones I’ve been using ever since I came to China. No, I had to use (buy) one of the post office’s own envelopes, even for an ordinary letter…
Buy an envelope, go away, readdress it, come back to the scrum. Grrr.