Monday, January 31, 2005


It is cold today! We had such a mild, sunny weekend and we are making up for it today. It snowed. Amy is quite excited, thinks it looks like Christmas (not even a Christmas in NZ seems to have cured her of that Northern pre-occupation with snow!). She thought Santa might come and bring her another present.Invisible Niichan (big brother) joined us in the bath today. He is seven, and his name is Tommy. He was invented after we got back from NZ - I think Amy misses her cousins. He wears an invisibility cloak like Harry Potter and only takes it off when I am not looking. He tickled Amy in the bath and she could not stop giggling.We have sold three books on amazon japan. I sent one on Saturday at the main PO, which was fine, then went to the local PO today. Local POs are an unknown quantity in Japan. They can be great - close, easy parking, people know you by name, staff are used to your unusual requests (ie, sending overseas). Or they can be a nightmare - new staff, intimidated by your foreignness, unsure what buttons to press on the stupid machine that seems to make each transaction take twice as long as before, utterly ignorant of the various international parcel rates. It does not help that the organization makes a habit of rotating staff yearly or so, so there are almost always newbies around.Today was the latter type of day. I know the guy well - he's stuffed up my requests before! I am sure he was teased in school. He's just that type. He gets so flustered and stuffs things up even more. I decided to be very explicit and watchful - but he still managed to mess it up. How hard is it, when someone hands you two identical packages, and says she wants a book rate, to conclude that therefore, both packages are books? Does not the different prices you came up with ring an alarm somewhere? To be fair, I think it did - and he proceded to check each package again, twice, and still came up with a different rate. He was so muddled he just kept on pressing the same wrong button over and over.I even queried the receipts, and asked if it was book rate, and he assured me it was. In these situations, I just have to give them the benefit of the doubt. I was not sure what the receipt said, just that the description was different, with the kanji I recognized as 'book' and the counter for book, and nothing like it on the other. I had assumed the difference was just size, or distance. So I took it to my Kanji, who also found the second receipt a bit odd, so he telephoned them, and only THEN did Mr. PO discover his mistake.I actually felt embarrassed about going back for my 100 yen refund! But if we are going to be sending twenty or so books, I have to be sure he is going to get it right. He also gave me a packet of tissues, then bid me wait - I thought he would fetch some balloons for the kids, but he came back with - wait for it - a complementary Post Office sponge. At least it's useful...

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