Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pino's Stamp

      I was in Florence's Central Post office when I received a call from my cousin/lawyer Pino asking me to mail him some legal documents asap to the south of Italy.  Little did I know that I was about to embark on a two-hour mission, demonstrating in full force the time that can be lost thanks to Italian bureacracy.

 Once arrived at my own office, I put the documents in a large envelope which I knew required a 2 euro stamp.   I had two options:  either take a number at a nearby post office to buy the stamp, or quickly head to a tabacchi.  This is a small shop that, with a state issued license, sells cigarettes, lottery tickets, salt and stamps, the sale of which is government taxed and regulated.  

        The woman behind the counter informed me that she did not have the 2 euro stamp but that she could sell me three stamps totaling 2 euro and 40 cents.  Otherwise, she said, go to the post office and take a number.

        I headed a couple of blocks over to another tabacchi where another lady behind the counter not only did not have the stamp, but questioned whether, in fact, the envelope needed 2 euro to mail.  She courteously weighed the envelope and happily, confirmed my suspicions.  Yes, a 2 euro stamp was required.  No, she did not have one.  "Go to the post office," she said.  "But isn't this a tabacchi which by law is supposed sell stamps? " I questioned.  "Yes," she replied, "but I don't have a
 2 euro stamp."

      Furious, refusing to wait on line at the post office, I knew where to buy the stamp, about six blocks away near Piazza della Repubblica.  Bingo!  Yes, Tabaccheria Rivendita 88 had the stamp I needed.  Owner Maresca Cirri informed that this was a three-generation family firm who makes it their mission always to have a supply of stamps.

        My mission, however, was not yet over.  I still had to go a post office and mail the envelope.  According to protocol, once there, I was supposed to take a number.  I knew, however, if I had a envelope correctly stamped in hand, I could probably jump the line and hand it to a post office employee, who was hopefully having a good day.

      Well, there was a slight amount of turbulence.  First of all, I recognized the person in front of me who happened to be the husband (or relative) of the lady at the counter of the second tabacchi I had gone into seeking a 2 euro stamp.  He, fortunately for me, was not in the shop at the time, probably having been on line at the post office to restock his tabacchi's stamp supply.  The post office employee was not having a good day either.  Frowning at me, he insisted on weighing the envelope, and, disgusted for not sending me back to take a number, carelessly tossed it, legal documents and all, into a bin.

      When I left the office, I thought I would be out for no more than 10 minutes,  In actual fact, I had employed close to two hours to complete my mission of mailing an envelope with a 2 euro stamp.   In my quest, I had forgotten that Tara Baron was coming in to work.  She had tried calling my cell phone, and the third time could hear it ring in the office.  I found her patiently waiting for me just outside.

      Two days later, Pino still has not received the documents in the correctly-stamped envelope.
I will keep you posted.....

1 comment:

  1. That was the perfect post for the "Desperation" category! I love the photo of Tara waiting outside the office.