As I have said before, all countries, like all religions, have their particularly confounding traditions, rules, and bureaucracies. I wrote before about my first encounter with the post office. Because of email, phones, Skype, Facetime, blogs, I simply haven't used the post office. But I wanted to mail something today. You know how this story goes -- an hour of my life lost in the windowless world of the Poste Italia.
This time I knew to push the appropriate button on the ticket machine -- in order to get in the queue. P025. Soon P021 came up then P022 and P023 and P024. This was looking the start of a beautiful day. And then, no more "P" numbers. All of a sudden it was as if the holders of "P" tickets were an outcast group, destined to sit on the fringes of the room, peering in to the exclusive world of the As, Bs, and Cs, where happy smiles and prompt service seemed to greet everyone. 15 minutes. 20 minutes. A half hour. Click, click, click -- the upper classes were streaming by, and while the lower caste was bypassed. I was getting indignant and self-righteous.
And then. P025. I actually let out a cheer.
I walked up, handed by small package, and even spoke a few appropriate sentences in Italian to the agent, who promptly weighed the package and placed a metered stamp on it. Success. I then asked for stamps of identical value, as I wanted to send a few more such packages -- same contents, same weight.
Trouble. See, this was a post office. They don't sell stamps there. Just as they don't sell the special stamps you need for the permesso di soggiorno, even though the post office is the place where you must submit the application and where they affix the stamp, so, too, you can't actually buy stamps at this post office.
On the way back to the Academy ruminating on how I will regret on my deathbed having lost an hour of my life in the post office in Rome in 2014, I ran into Christina Pugliese, who explained that, well, you buys stamps in the corner store, usually just called a tobacco store. Of course, you'll need to know how much it costs to send a package of a certain weight and contents to the United States.
You might to go back to the post office to find that out.