Egypt Post : They drive you MAD!
Cairo and Alexandria – Close encounters of the Egyptian Post kind.
Things have started to accumulate in my bag after 2 months of winding through the Middle East — souveniours, ticket stubs and notebooks which I have been collecting since Istanbul. So, I thought it’d be a good idea to send them home in a package from Cairo.
What seemed like a simple idea turned into a two-day task that took every ounce of patience and nearly as much energy in me to get right. Sending a package out of Egypt using EgyptPost as I soon learned can be like pulling teeth (especially if you are not local) — an interesting experience but comes with plenty of pain and you should not do it unless necessary or if you are a sadist.
Feeling quite ready for some pain,
I walked into the main office of Egyptpost with my parcel. Less than an hour later, I walk away defeated, and about to suffer from mental breakdown.
I became a ping pong ball for the departments of Egyptpost which I now learn is an impregnable bureaucracy.
Half an hour ago, I was told to go here and go there to find the right office for sending a parcel. And when I finished visiting almost everyone, I ended up at the same counter I began with.
The bureaucrat simply told me :
“Come back tomorrow.”
It is a half day’s work today because it’s Thursday and they are going home early….
Culturally insensitive to countries that don’t rest on Sundays instead, I freaked out and threw a tantrum.
This attracted a more reasonable young man who directed me instead to another post office, which may close later, at 5pm.
And so, after a METRO ride,
I took a deep breath and ready again to battle Egyptpost for a second time.
I followed directions to go upstairs to find a small 40ish lady removing her black gloves and picking up her purse, ready to head home. This is the lady that must “inspect” my parcel before I can seal it for sending.
“no.” I cried and pleaded to the CUSTOMS official, ” I was SENT here, Please take a look at my parcel.”
She agreed, only after I nearly broke down like a baby.
So I rushed downstairs to buy a box, brought it back to her for packing my stuff in. She looked through briefly and satisfied, ordered the box to be sealed.
And then, I was sent downstairs with the parcel to the actual post office.
At the post office again, a man said :
“Come back tomorrow”
uttering once again, the last three words I want to hear.
I said “no” I was told you work later here and I do need to send it today.
I refused to budge and after a while he complied.
He weighed my parcel, asked where my parcel was going, took out several books, flipped through for evidence and then wrote some figures down and added it up.
The price came up to three times as much as I’d expected to pay... all because the parcel was now 200 grams over 2 kilogram — the maximum weight for small parcel.
I asked instead to take some things out.
As I was taking things out,
another bureaucrat walked in and decided to cause more trouble.
He said he saw me put a CD into the box and I explained that the CD was there and was a compilation of my own photos.
I explained the customs official have already seen that.
He was unhappy and was determined NOT to let me send the parcel now. All were getting impatient and then he suggested calling the manager to settle the stalemate. I suspect though that they were just waiting for 5 p.m. (closing time) and then conveninetly, send me AWAY.
After 10 minutes of waiting,
I decided this situation has turned sour and I was NEVER going to be able to get this parcel through here.
I took my box and left in frustration.
I will try again in ALEXANDRIA – Egypt’s second capital city.
Read on to see if I succeed.