Friday, January 14, 2011

Bureaucratic war won without the blink of an Italy!

If you follow my blog, you might have noticed the warning shot ('they won the bureaucratic skirmish, but not the war! Well, here's the sequel...More......

It went like a charm.

Here's what happened.

I'm moving from one part of Milan to another.

Moving already is a painful experience (see the VERY funny blog post by a very talented young lady on moving with traumatized dogs:

One tries to organize as best as possible, in order to make it as painless as possible.

This includes setting up the "post forwarding" feature at the post office.

Oh, yes, even the Italian post office offers this service (for a relatively small fee). (Doesn't forward packages, though, so hold off sending me that diamond tiara til I'm in the new place.)

I went to their web site (they have a web site!), trembling with fear that I wouldn't be able to find the information in a typical maze.

Not so! It was easily found, intelligible AND downloadable! There's even a place on the form to specify the date on which one wants the service to start (that's your hint about where the upcoming snafu took place).

"It's practically done!," I said smugly to myself, "and so far in advance, too!"

For organizational reasons, that day it was necessary to go to the larger central post office, rather than my little neighborhood one, where I've gotten to know the people, at least face-to-face if not by name, and enjoy going to exchange smiles. ("What?! She ENJOYS going to the post office?!," I can hear you cry...a smile and a personal touch make all the difference in the world, bureaucrats and store owners, forewarned is forearmed.)

Years ago, going to an Italian post office (or any bureaucrat's office) was a nightmare: people amassing, pushing and shoving, no waiting in line. If you're old enough, and had gone to Italy in those days, you'll remember the pain for us Anglo-Saxon types. So, in the last decade and a half, or two, they've instituted a number system for the lines. Works great (and I'm always amazed).

That day, the number system wasn't working, but they did have a woman directing traffic, and people--now accustomed to lines (cordons are our friends)--were waiting patiently for their turn (most of them, anyway). Bright and cheery, armed with the knowledge that I was informed, organized and in plenty of time, I naively approached the window.

"Can't do it."


"Can't do can't specify the date on which the service starts automatically about ten days after you bring in the're too early...go away and come back, later."


"Can't do it, you're too early, go away and come back later."

"But there's a space on the form I downloaded from *your* web site where it says it *is* possible to specify the starting date."

"I don't care, it doesn't work like that, it can't be done, go away and come back, later."

That was the skirmish won, but not the war.

The very next day, I took the same form to my little neighborhood post office branch.

I took my number.

I waited patiently until it was my turn (this time, with a little less confidence).

I got to the window, smiled, explained briefly what I wanted to do, and shoved the form under the glass separating window.

The blank look and pause threw me until he said, "I've never done this before, but wait a minute, are you in a hurry? no? good, let's try."

Dazed with appreciation at his willingness to work and think (something obviously lacking in the previous exchange at the central office), I answered questions posed.

We even had to go through the procedure twice because he punched a wrong button at one point.

No biggie.

It was done, as it should have been in the first place, and with a few smiles to boot.

I'll miss those people in that little post office.

P.S., I am wondering, though, if the service really will start on the day specified, or, as the man at the central post office said, it will start about ten days after submitting the form. Stay tuned.

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