Returning early from work on Tuesday afternoon, I found a slip of cardboard in my letterbox informing me that I had a package to collect. ‘Ah!’ I thought. ‘My visa and passport have been returned! Lovely!’ – whereupon I grabbed my purse and rode straight up to the post office. Once I reached the counter, however, I found myself thwarted by a Postal Chick. The conversation went like this:
ME: Hello! I’ve got a package to pick up. Here’s the slip from my mailbox.
POSTAL CHICK: That’s fine. Do you have any ID?
ME: No, that’s what I’m here to pick up. It’s my visa application stuff.
POSTAL CHICK: I’m sorry, I can’t give you the parcel without seeing some ID.
ME: But all my ID is in the parcel. I can’t show you any ID until you give it to me.
POSTAL CHICK: You have no ID?
ME: No, I do have ID – it’s just all in the package. Look, I don’t have a valid driver’s license or a student card. My passport is my only form of photo ID, and that’s what I’m here to collect.
POSTAL CHICK: Do you have any other ID with your name on it?
ME: Yes and, again, no. All my cards still have my maiden name on them, but the package has my married name on it. Which I know, because I wrote the address. It’s a reply-paid parcel. I bought and sent it from here on Monday. That lady next to you served me.
POSTAL CHICK: Sorry, we serve millions of people a week. We don’t remember you.
ME, Internally: I’m sorry – you, personally, serve millions of customers per week in this tiny suburban post office, or Australia Post serves millions of customers? Because there’s a difference!
ME, out loud: Really? You don’t remember me?
NICE LADY WHO HELPED ME ON MONDAY: I’m sorry, no.
ME: Ah. Fair enough.
POSTAL CHICK: Do you have any utility bills in your name?
ME: No, they’re all in my husband’s name. I just pay them.
POSTAL CHICK: Do you have a lease agreement, then? A bank statement?
ME: I have no idea where our lease is, and I don’t have a current bank statement.
POSTAL CHICK, disbelievingly: You don’t have a bank statement?
ME, internally: OK. Does anyone on Earth keep their old bank statements lying around for just this eventuality? Do you keep your bank statements, Postal Chick? I think not!
ME, out loud: My bank statements come every two months. The next one isn’t due until July. The only one I have is, once again, in the package. I had to order it from the bank especially for my passport application. Which is what I’ve come to pick up. It contains my visa, my current passport, my childhood passport, my marriage certificate, my birth certificate, a bank statement and a copy of my ticket to Heathrow. All my ID. In the parcel.
POSTAL CHICK: I can’t give you the parcel until you show me some ID.
ME: This is a chicken and egg dilemma! I can’t show you my ID until you give me the parcel, but you won’t give me the parcel because I don’t have ID! Look, the first time I had to get one of these back, I just had to sign for it at the door. What’s wrong with doing that here?
POSTAL CHICK: Yes, but that was because it was the postie delivering it. That’s different.
ME, internally: But that’s entirely stupid! Either there is a rigid, unbendable standard in place on showing ID to collect a parcel, or there isn’t! I could just as easily have lied to the postie as to you – but it’s my parcel! Addressed in my handwriting!
ME, out loud: This is ridiculous. Isn’t there anything else I can do?
POSTAL CHICK: You can’t show me any ID?
POSTAL CHICK: I’m sorry, but I can’t hand over the parcel without ID.
NICE LADY WHO HELPED ME ON MONDAY, listening in: What about the tracking number I would’ve given you from the bottom of the package?
ME, processing vague memories of a plastic-looking satchel-strip shoved in the bottom of my bag: Yes! I have that! But it’s in my bag. At home.
NICE LADY WHO HELPED ME ON MONDAY: Are you able to go and get it?
NICE LADY WHO HELPED ME ON MONDAY: Then that’s fine. Just come straight to the counter when you get back, and we’ll help you.
ME, internally: Thank you, Nice Lady! Now why the hell couldn’t the damn Postal Chick have suggested that TEN FREAKING MINUTES AGO?
So I rode back home, found my bag, rode back to the post office, got my parcel and opened it at the counter. With a certain grim satisfaction, I pulled out my passport and waved it at the Postal Chick.
ME: See? ID!
End result: I have my documents back. But I hate Australia Post.