I have just returned from the local Post Office.
And I am puzzled.
My mission: To send copies of my book to family, friends and fellow-bloggers around the world.
The friendly chap behind the counter told me that the local postage was R5.65 per book, which struck me as quite reasonable.
He asked me *twice*, though, whether I wanted to send it by airmail, which I thought was exceedingly odd, as the one address was in Bothasig and the other in Woodstock – both of them suburbs of Cape Town.
I had an amusing vision of our local postie flying over said suburbs in a little microlight aircraft, peering down to identify the correct house, before affixing a mini-parachute to the padded envelope, and sending it floating down onto the front lawn, hopefully of the correct house!
I replied calmly that surface mail would be just dandy.
Then he told me, with an apologetic smile, that the overseas postage (USA, England and Germany) was R30.65 per envelope. He looked at me questioningly, as though waiting for me to say, “WHAT? Good grief! How much is it by donkey cart or sailing boat?”
My jaw dropped.
Not because of the high cost. Having sent out a fair number of my books earlier in the year, I knew what to anticipate – and I had my credit card to hand! 🙂
But because yesterday, my beloved had generously stood in line at the post office to mail a large batch of books for me, because he knew I was trying to cope with all the other urgent stuff.
And HE had been charged a jaw-dropping R46.60 per envelope!
Mind you, I had had a similar experience earlier in the year. After it had happened twice, I realised that it depended on who served me at the counter! If I got that one particular woman, the one with the generally grumpy face, I had to hand over R46.60 every time.
If I got any of the others, it was R30.65.
The second time it happened, I of course challenged her, pointing out that her colleagues had charged me far less the previous day. She had glared at me furiously, and retorted that they had made a mistake, that the letters might/would not be delivered because they had insufficient stamps on them, and that I could/would/should be charged for the excess!
I now suspect that the vagaries of the queue had brought my honey-bun to the counter of grumpy-face.*
Now if our post office actually had a good track record of offering a reliable, trustworthy and speedy service, I might be inclined to accommodate discrepancies of as much as R16 (!) on the same size and weight envelope. But given that there is still widespread corruption, theft and pilfering of countless letters, parcels and presents sent to and received from overseas, I am feeling just a tad aggrieved right now.
Those letters had better make it to their destinations before the end of the year, or I am going to cause a major STINK!!
* Honey-bun has just confirmed that this was indeed the case. It’s enough to make one’s hackles rise, it is indeed. Well, at least I now know whom to avoid!!