Tuesday, September 19, 2006

THIS is the post office?

So, I got a package (yippee) from my very best friend in the whole wide world for my birthday. Actually, it sat at the post office for about 2 weeks. Some things I didn't know about the post office here:

1. It takes 1.5 hours to pick up a package.
2. You have to go all the way downtown to get the package, no matter where your PO Box is (it wouldn't surprise me if you have to come up from Aqaba to get packages from there).
3. You have to present ID to pick up a package.

For those of you who don't know how this works in the US, let me describe it. Packages come to your mailbox (this is at your house). If your postal carrier doesn't feel like stopping to bring it to you and it's too big to go in the box (most will come to your door), they put in a slip that says you need to pick it up at your local post office. Anyone in the world takes the slip in, hands it to the person behind the counter, and walks away with the package. The process usually take 5-10 minutes. Maximum. You leave, go home, and open your package. Here's how yesterday went...

We arrived (after searching and being told the wrong place by the post office on the 2nd circle). The building is clearly marked as a bank. We only realized it was also the post office after our third trip past it when we saw the drop box hidden next to the steps. We went in and got sent to the second floor. After climbing the stairs, we went to the counter. They took the slip and handed us the airbill from the US Post office and told us to go down the hall, around the corner and down that hall. We came to the receiving room (if you will) where the employee had his back to the door.He asked to see my ID (see #3 above) necessitating a walk back down to the car. Then, once he'd seen the ID, he gave the packing slip to the young man in the back to get the package. Then, the package had the be inspected and customs assessed if necessary. The employee behind this desk (cramped into the same room, mind you) asked to see my ID again. We gave him my national identity card (this is a card available only to citizens from what I gather). He looks at it for a minute and then proceeds to ask whether I am Jordanian. It's kind of like holding an American's passport and saying, "yes, but are you an American?" We are then made aware of the limits for value of items coming into Jordan to both non-Jordanians (20JD) and Jordanians (50JD). Fortunately, I'm Jordanian and the package came in just under the limit for the next 6 months. Who knows what we'll do come Christmas time...

After the inspection, we had to go upstairs where the fellow enters information regarding the value of what I've received (to ensure I don't go over the limit during the 6 months). He looks at the paperwork and send us back downstairs to the mudiir (director) who stamps the paper and we take it back upstairs. Then we come back downstairs to get the package to discover that we need to go to the desk. Once there, we get the requisite stamp and return to the room where the package has been sitting and waiting all of this time. A new employee is at the desk and seems to have been selected for the chip on his shoulder. It was easily the size of Mount Rushmore. He angrily informed us that we needed to go to the desk again. When El 3atal argued that we had just COME from the desk, he got truly angry and carted us out to talk to the second guy at the front desk. This guy wanted to assess us a 3JD "handling fee". To put this in perspective, my friend spent $31.00 on postage. And they want to charge a handling fee? Surely they must be joking. As ridiculous as it is, neither El 3atal nor I had any cash... at all. So, El 3atal goes to argue with the mudiir (a different guy than the first one). He agrees that we won't be paying the fee. However, our "friend" in the package room shouts that we didn't get his signature. So, El 3atal goes back next door and gets his signature. At this point, we are told we may finally take the package! As we're leaving, we can hear our "friend" slamming drawers, pounding things on the table and generally being pissed off at us for every problem in the world. Ahhhm the joys of unreformed processes. In the US, the entire transaction could be performed by anyone I asked to pick up the package and it would have taken 15 minutes. But, looking at the bright side, I did see a new part of downtown :).

Happy packaging!


At 10:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like that last guy is practicing being a disgruntled postal worker.

At 10:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you can have packages and letters sent a new way by getting an APO address in New York. If you are interested I can ask my friend.

Be very careful with packages. We've been charged the full value of what was stated in the invoice, had them go through and place there own value and charge 100% tax on it, then charge an amount by the weigh t of the box AND a per day holding charge as well as the handling fee. It is such a racket.

Better off FedExing, but it isn't as much an adventure, for sure.


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