I reckon I’ve just made an important scientific breakthrough. I think I’ve stumbled upon a link between murderous psychotic dictators and sociopathic serial killers.

I’m pretty sure that many started life as well balanced human beings, but I’m willing to bet that if you delve into their past you’ll discover that at some point in their lives, Hitler, Idi Amin, Son of Sam, Harold Shipley et al visited the Correos (Spanish post office) in Puerto de la Cruz and at that moment their lives were changed forever.

I thought I’d gotten the measure of the Correos; that I’d chilled to the fact that any visit was going to suck a decent sized chunk of my life away and I’d come to terms with that. However, this week their levels of illogical incompetence and complete lack of coherent organisation plumbed new depths.

So what happened? Basically the usual – big queue; everyone taking hours to be served (this, I have to say, is not necessarily the fault of the people who work behind the counter), but the ticket machine was working and I had my ticket, number 211 (the display was at 191), clutched in my hand so all I had to do was wait my turn…in theory.

As the machine clicked to 209, I moved closer to the counter knowing that some staff can get button happy and the display can jump 10 numbers in a few seconds. 210 came up and seconds later 211. I moved forward to the only vacant position, a mousey little woman whose job seems to be to shuffle piles of paper around rather than serve anyone, and placed my ticket in front of her
“It’s not me,” she said, glancing at it briefly.
“What?” I wasn’t expecting that.
“I didn’t press 211,” she waved a hand, dismissing me.
Personally, I couldn’t see the relevance of this. She was free, the next number to be served was 211 what was the problem?
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Aren’t you serving?” I eyed the display on the wall nervously; I just knew what was about to happen.
“Yes, but I didn’t press for 211,” she was sticking to her irrational guns.
I knew I wasn’t dealing with logical human beings here, so I changed tack.
“Okay, who did call 211?”
“The man at position number three,” she pointed across the room.
I briskly made my way over to ‘man at number three’, a John Cusack look-alike, and placed the ticket in front of him.
“Sorry, I didn’t press for number 211,” at least he smiled when he rejected me. “I’m still serving number 210.”
Number 210 was, apparently, filling in a form off to one side. I looked back along the counter. The only person free was the mousey woman. I headed back towards her, arriving just as the buzzer sounded and the number displayed on the wall changed. A big guy (number 212) moved in front of me.
“Whoa, wait a minute, I’m first,” I elbowed my way beside the big guy and threw down my ticket again.
“But I’m serving this man now,” mousey replied.
“Yes, but I was first,” It sounded childish, but after waiting patiently for my turn for thirty minutes, I didn’t care.
“But I didn’t press the button,” she pointed up the line again. “He did.”
“But he said he didn’t,” exasperation levels were reaching overload.
“Well, I don’t know who pressed the button for 211,” she sighed. “I’m serving 212 now. You’ll just have to wait your turn.”

At that point, if I’d have been Mr Spock my head would have exploded. As it was any remaining shreds of calmness left at Mach speed. There was no way I was waiting any longer. It was my turn and somebody was going to have to deal with me. I took a step back from the counter, held the ticket high in the air, and shouted:
POR FAVOR HOMBRES, who pressed for 211? Who pressed for 211?”
The other staff behind the counter looked at me as though I was a madman.
I prowled the line, blocking anyone else from moving forward – this was now a matter of principle.
“Who pressed for 211? Who pressed for 211?” I repeated loudly.
For a few moments nothing happened, then John Cusack, who is actually one of them who still possesses a soul, relented and waved me across.

“Tranquilo hombre, calm down,” he took my envelope weighed it and I handed over my money; a transaction which took seconds. “See no problem, hasta luego.”
I mumbled a reply and made my way to the exit muttering and twitching like Herbert Lom in the Pink Panther films.

By the time I emerged from that mad hell hole, if anyone had stuck a Kalashnikov in my hands I would have run back inside laughing manically and taken out every one of the evil sadists who worked behind the counter.

When they take me to the chair, remember I was sane once…in those innocent days before I knew such a nightmarish world as the Correos ever existed.

  1. […] you’ve got the measure of us…think again. I realise that I may be starting to sound obsessive about the Correos (Spanish Post Office for the uninitiated), but they just keep coming up with new ways to confound […]

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