Sunday, June 14, 2009

Post office culture

One of the pieces of culture shock is navigating the post office. I was terrified the first time I went to the Russian post office. I entered a hall with a sea of people, many of them elderly. But despite the disorganized appearance, the complex queuing system was in effect. Mailing my letters took a lot of praying and telling myself that there was no need to fear people. Whether convenient or not, this was normal life for them.


I'm embarrassed to say that I still haven't figured it out. I walk in and don't know what window I'm supposed to go to, because there are many different services offered, and you must stand in the correct line. Here are some examples: It's a similar situation at the bank.

It is a little easier going to the post office at home since I don't have to decide which window to go to. Speaking English helps, too. :)

When I went there the other day to get some stamps, I was reminiscing about my experiences in Russia. The odd thing was that as I approached our post office, I passed a man talking on a payphone outside in a foreign language. I tried to listen a little bit...just to figure out what language it was. It sounded Slavic. It sounded almost Russian.

I went inside, where there was no line. The man at the counter knew exactly what I needed. He counted out the stamps with precision and put them in a wax paper bag. It was a simple transaction.

I love watching them crisply apply a piece of tape, smoothing it with their fingers. Maybe it's because I'm not good at doing things "crisply" I love watching the adeptness.

When I left, the man was still on the phone. This time, I knew without a doubt it was Russian, with a very heavy (American?) accent. Where was he from? What was his business here? Whom was he talking to in Russian? I found myself asking these questions in my head as I passed by.

So, you see, Russia is never very far from my mind.


  1. We were just in the Post Office today to mail a letter and to pick up a package - we always find it intimidating - your post made me smile

  2. Ha ha! Glad I'm not crazy., that's getting pretty intense.


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