I’m Sorry; I Don’t Understand a Word You’re Saying

Posted: November 11, 2008 in Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , ,

I haven’t blogged about the Correos in some time, but just when I thought I’d kicked the habit, they’ve gone and hooked me again with a line of pure, uncut confusion.

Only a small hit this time, but enough to have me staring at the assistant, wondering to myself ‘is there a brain in there’.

Now that summer opening times have come and gone, the Correos is open till 20.00 again, so we don’t all have to cram our business into the morning. The upshot of this is that at 15.00, in the middle of siesta time, the post office is peacefully quiet. I handed over my envelope with the usual:
“Reino Unido normal, por favour.”
“Have you already paid for this?” the assistant asked, throwing me off guard.
“Paid for what?” I was intrigued. What new game had they devised this time?
“The envelope,” he held up the sealed and addressed envelope. “Have you already paid for the envelope?”
“Errr, yes, of course,” I countered, still a bit hesitantly.
As I said, the envelope was already sealed and addressed. I was the only one in the post office; he was the only person serving. How could I not have paid for it? Unless the Correos had introduced a system where they give you envelopes for free and you only pay for them when you actually use them (sounds like a good system to me). But as they hadn’t, his question seemed to me to be completely nonsensical.
“Okay, in that case, that’s €3.15.”
“Oh, and I want another ten envelopes the same as this one,” I added.
There was a sharp intake of breath and the assistant turned the envelope over in his hand, looking at it as though it was a rare specimen. God forbid that I should attempt something as radical as asking for envelopes in a post office.
“No…I don’t think that’s possible. I don’t think we have any of these,” he stood up, walked over to a cupboard behind him and stared into it with his hands on his hips for a few seconds before returning to the counter.
“Sorry, we don’t have any. Not till tomorrow morning.”
This was Correos’ code for “It’s siesta time; I shouldn’t even be here and I certainly can’t be arsed looking until it’s a more civilised time i.e. tomorrow morning.”

Then it occurred to me. If he knew he didn’t have any envelopes like the one I’d just handed him, why on earth did he ask whether I’d paid for it yet? His question made even less sense than it had when he’d asked it.

The workings of the Correos counter officer’s mind it would seem are beyond the comprehension of most mere mortal human beings.


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