I'm sure going to the post office in any country is tedious. No one really wants to wait in line, deal with other grumpy customers and have to figure out the best means of sending something without being over charged just for a few ounces or grams over. I never liked going to the post office in the states, but my experiences at the post offices here in Japan have been some kinda special. Don't get me wrong. I've been to places where I was in and out in only minutes, the staff were wonderful and helpful. But that was Tokyo. They deal with foreigners daily. However, my biggest frustration became a monthly ritual while I was working and teaching. Then, when I moved and thought, “oh good, new place, surely better service" I couldn't have been more disappointed. It may possibly even be worse.
So every month, I sent home money to pay for my student loans. I would take out a money order from the post office during my lunch break, just before the monthly meeting in town. This was the only time I was guaranteed to be at the big post office with the savings department, a 35 minute bike ride away, during open hours. But I had an hour to fill out one form, pay for it and mail it off. Plenty of time, right? Well I learned I needed to bring my lunch with me and even then I'd sometimes be several minutes late to our meetings. That one form. Just one. With my address, my mother's address, and the amount of money. What is so difficult about writing on a form? Each month, the same woman asked what I needed and would give me the form. The first time I filled it out, it took a bit of time. The lady had to go to the back and ask the manager whether my mom's name should be in the Japanese word order, then again to ask about my name. Another trip to the back asking if my address should be written on top, should my name in this part be in katakana? I thought, poor woman, not many people must request these. Perhaps she is new. My assumption was wrong. The second month the same questions were asked. And this time around, she wasn't happy with how I wrote my 7. So she handed me a new form to do all over again. Then as she went to the back she noticed my t was a lower case. Nope no good, another form. Frustrated I made the mistake of writing my name in the wrong order. Yet another form. Alright one more damn time. And again. I was half an hour late to my meeting and I had re written that form 7 times until she finally accepted it. The next month I asked for multiple copies so I could write them at home, when I wasn't rushing and flustered. I honestly tried to not yell at this woman every month through gritted teeth.
But then a year or so later,I found out from a different post office worker, you can order printouts of this form with whatever you want filled out on then. So for example, I could fill my address and mother's address but just leave the money amount blank. They then deliver however many copies you order to your house. So why had I been filling out this thing months on end for no good reason? Because that woman who has done this for years just seems to not know what to do or how to be efficient.
Finally, I moved out of that town. A new town a new post office experience right? This post office might possibly have better staff? But alas, no. In the end, this time I actually just gave up trying to send money home and waited until my next trip to Tokyo to get a money order. And now, not only is the staff not able to help with remittance, but just mailing packages or letters or all the other typical post office dealings have become super frustrating. Now all the staff members can’t understand why I would want to mail something by boat because it'll take a few months instead of a few weeks, but it is half to a third of the price. Or they won't let me mall my envelope out as a normal letter because it has batteries instead of the small packet that will go on an airplane and get rejected. I don’t want to have to argue to get a service that is provided. But every. single. time. Perhaps I'll start exploring nearby towns post offices. A few extra mins biking could save me an hour of frustration. What about every one else? Anyone elseon the verge of going postal?