Sunday, 21 October 2012

Blip: Blip's encounter with an inept postman



I was abruptly and rudely interrupted earlier by a Royal Mail delivery; it wasn’t mine but that’s no bother, we’re in a house that has three flats so the front door is used by three groups of people. My problem is with the scary ineptitude of the courier. Whoever’s package it was had paid for ‘special delivery’, which is to say that it comes a little faster and it gets signed for at the delivery end to make certain it arrives and if nobody is there to sign for it, they take it back to the sorting office and arrange pickup or re-delivery.

                The sweaty monkey in front of me barely knew what a PDA was, let alone the correct usage of one. He couldn’t get the barcode relating to the package to scan and so started to try to rub it, quietly chanting to himself like an insane delivery shaman. Once he realised his rain dance hadn’t worked he left his expensive machine with me (I say ‘with me’, I mean on top of my bins alongside the ‘safe and secure’ package) and stormed off back to his van, swearing all the way. He came back after a moment in a blind rage and was shocked to find that, amazingly, I wasn’t exactly happy with this level of service. Interrupting a genuinely important session of Harvard referencing an essay is one thing but then stalling like a pillock is something else. In the end he signed a small piece of paper himself, which means nothing, and then left in a huff, leaving the package in my care.

                I took it in and put I where it should go but I was left distracted and annoyed. I’m aware that it’s terribly middle class to complain about the postal service when, on the whole, they do a good job sending and receiving and transporting goods and important or sensitive materials all the way around the U.K. and I don’t begrudge them a few mistakes given the sheer volume they’re working with.  But when someone pays extra for ‘special delivery’ because it’s particularly important to them and it’s particularly important that it doesn’t go missing, it’s irresponsible to just leave it like that. Why bother having to sign for it if he can break procedure so flippantly? Maybe he was just in a bad mood, but then, if that were true, he should’ve stayed home and sucked on his dummy a little longer before re-joining the world of the adults.

                A minor logistical point: I know what a barcode is. It’s no amazing feat of knowledge, it’s quite simple really. Besides, most people that have ever worked in retail will know too. Although they very rarely come in more complicated forms, the type of barcode in common usage is a standard 2-dimensional line structure whose height and width provide a simple digital representation of a linear sequence of numbers. My telephone number, bank account number and Pop’s ISBNs for her books could all be translated into barcodes. All devices, especially those fancy, purpose-built PDAs, have the capacity for manual entering of relevant codes and yet monkey boy never once tried to retrieve the very legible list of numbers on the parcel and enter them into his magic box. In fact, the mere suggestion that he did it manually is what sent him off into his ranting march to his van in the first place. 

Blip (signature on its way)

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