The following story is 100% true.
I went to a Canada Post outlet to mail a package to Laos. The Canada Post representative looked at the address of the package suspiciously and said “Laos? That’s not a country..that’s in Vietnam”.
“No, it’s next to Vietnam, but it’s a separate country” I helpfully replied. She shook her head, unconvinced, but turned to her computer anyway, just in case she might be wrong. Unlikely.
“Well, it’s not listed here. Are you sure it’s a country?”
I assured her that Laos was in fact a country, and to help prove the point I showed her the Wikipedia page for Laos. She was unimpressed by this so she, naturally, asked her manager for help.
“Lay-Os? I’ve never heard of that. Are you sure it’s a country?” he said. I assured him it was and I began looking around for the hidden camera that surely must be there.
“Maybe it’s on one of those terrorist watch lists like I-Raq??” (he said “eye-raq” like I imagine Sheriff Pepper would’ve to Roger Moore). I reassured him Laos wasn’t part of the axis of evil so he walked away.
The first rep returned and said “Well, it’s not on our computer”. I pointed out to her that I had completed the Customs Declaration form on the Canada Post website, as required by Canada Post, and it showed Laos as a country. I showed her this on my phone but she was unconvinced.
“I’ll take the package but if it doesn’t get there it isn’t our fault and I don’t want you coming back and complaining about it”, she said. I assured her that if I was paying to have a package delivered and it didn’t get there I would indeed be coming back and complaining about it.
In response she placed my package on the counter in front of me, wiped her hands clean and walked away. The ultimate power move.
Confused, I politely said “Excuse me?? Are you refusing to deliver my package?” This was apparently the right thing to say because she stopped dead in her tracks, turned, walked back and picked up my package, while giving me a death stare.
She began looking on her computer again and as she did she said “I’ve been working here for 21 years and I’ve never heard of a country called Lay-Os. It’s not in our system”. And then she tried to catch me out by saying “Which continent is it in??”.
This is a tricky question for a grade 5 student, but I’m not one of those, so I was ready and said “Asia”. She wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so she began angrily tapping the keys again.
I suggested “Maybe you could call someone and get some help?”. She stalked over to the phone and called the Canada Post Help Line.
While she was on hold her boss came over and confirmed to me that “It isn’t in the system”, which seemed a bit redundant since I already knew that and I didn’t really care if it was in the system. I just wanted them to take my parcel so I could get the hell out of this bizarro parallel universe I’d stumbled into.
After a few minutes on the phone she turned back to the counter and said, in an obvious attempt to make sure I could hear her conversation “yes, and can you give me your name and a confirmation number because if this package isn’t delivered I want to be able to prove that it wasn’t my fault”. She angrily wrote down the information on a piece of paper and stowed it away in a drawer in a way that would’ve made Gollum jealous.
She then printed the label and postage and attached it to my parcel, which was impressive since she was also locked in a “to the death” staring match with me.
After placing the package in the appropriate bin she took a breath, smiled the most insincere smile ever and said “thank you for your patience. That will be $14.62”.
I paid and immediately left. I’m still confused about what to make of it. What a bizarre 20 minutes.