Monday, 17 December 2007

Inconvenience Store

Happier Days: Communist Poland


Every so often here, they have articles about how the move to out of town shopping centres and supermarkets is killing the local village shops. At least they used to - now I don't read the UK press I don't see them, though last week there was exactly the same sort of article in "Simerini" - a Cypriot paper which was talking about a market that now gets no people because the evil supermarkets have taken all their customers.

I don't agree with those who think that the answer is to stop supermarkets being built - after all, the real problem is that people shop in them. So it's the people's fault, and unless you're a Communist or a Nazi you shouldn't be trying to coerce them.

I also don't live in a village. Nevertheless, this year we've lost our local newsagents. Fair enough - people buy newspapers in the supermarkets, and the other "convenience" products, such as milk, and groceries, can't compete with the supermarket either. However, there was also a Post Office inside which was forced to close.

I've never liked Post Offices. You used to have to go to them to get your car tax renewed annually. Now you do it over the phone. Around the end of every month, there would be queues out of the door with people clutching their road tax forms.

The last time I went to the one that used to be across the road, I queued for 15 minutes for a passport application form, only to be told that they didn't do them - I'd have to go into the main town centre branch and wait there for another 15 minutes.

People say that the demise of the local Post Offices is cutting off a life-line to the old and infirm, who loved to spend what little was left of their lives in an endless queue waiting to collect their weekly pension. Now it's all done electronically into their bank accounts. They say that innovations such as this and the telephone road tax is to blame.

My answer to this is that I shouldn't have to endure misery so that as an indirect consequence some old biddy has an excuse to catch up on the village gossip. If old people need to socialise, then the answer is to organise things for them.

Anyway, on Saturday morning, after a 10 hour celebratory session the night before, I found myself in a queue at the Post Office, standing in front of someone with a bad cough. If I don't survive to see New Year, you'll know why. I really hope they've shut them all down before I retire - the idea of looking forwards to spending my old age in one of those places isn't massively appealing.

I know that we're lucky - I've read a couple of articles from Greece which talk about queuing to renew their identity cards. How Orwellian is that? Still, if I ever get round to emigrating there, at least it'll give me something to blog about...

28 comments:

Bee said...

I HATE POST OFFICES!!
I always get into fights with whatever attitudey person takes care of me.
Can you imagine 2 attitudey people battleing it out? My sister is always paranoid that my package [snicker] won't arrive or that they'll get the goverment to kick my ass but I don't care, if they give me an attitude I will respond in kind!
Now you've got me all riled up...!!!

Bee said...

As for village shops, there's a town I visit called St. Charles, IL. that is nothing but little shops. I hope it stays that way but I know one day I'll go and there will be a Walmart or Target where my "Coffee Drop Shop" used to be! :o(

Brian o Vretanos said...

Bee:

Calm down - you've got the whole week to get through yet ;-)

If "Post Offices" restricted themselves to dealing with, er, post, then they'd be all right. It's the fact that they're the centre of all the mindless bureaucratic crap that's the real problem. The people here are usually very nice, but being told you've got to fill in a 50 page form and then queue up again means that the customers aren't always so pleasant.

Maybe you should get a job in one - and show them how not to be attitudey (nice word, by the way)...

I bet they play football with your parcels ;-)

Bee said...

I wonder what jean knee is doing, probably petting the burros.

Burros said...

Si, that womahn scaurs us!

Jean Knee said...

well, here in small town Texas we have a very new, very clean Post office that I have never, even once waited behind more than one person. and they know me and keep the groovey stamps for me

Jean Knee said...

iwas at the dentist where Lean had no cavities- yay!
then dance class

I am such a super mom

Jean Knee said...

the donkeys love me very much but they are in a back pasture lately and don't get to share their burrito love with me

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

You want to watch these dentists - one of them invented the electric chair. Don't let them strap you in...

They showed the post office in Bethlehem, Wales at the weekend on a programme Helena was watching. People go there specially to get the "Bethlehem" postmark on their Christmas cards.

I bet the queues are bad this time of year...

Jean Knee said...

now that's Christmas card dedication for you

Jean Knee said...

where's the pic of you wearing your jumper??

Bee said...

Θα πρεπει να δοθει στο ευρυ κοινο, τι θελουν!

PURPLE JUMPER! PURPLE JUMPER!

Brian o Vretanos said...

Bee:

Your Greek's rubbish, but the "wide community" are going to be disappointed, because I don't possess any purple clothes.

Jean Knee:

I'm just making some "Douwe Egberts" "luxury" filter coffee...

Brian o Vretanos said...

Actually, I take it back about the Greek. It's better than usual...

Bee said...

Oye, que mala onda!
Cierto, mi Griego vale madre pero mi Español no deja nada que desear.

Bee said...

Ha Ha Ha!
Ojala e intentes traducir mi mensaje porque la traduccion que me dio google es muy vaciada!

Brian o Vretanos said...

Who needs Google? Let's see:

"Oh what a bad existence!
Sure, my ? goodbye mother I take my Spanish not quite nothing to desire."

I can have a stab at Italian, or French, or even German, but Spanish might as well be Chinese...

Brian o Vretanos said...

"Ha Ha! The intention to translate my genius because the translation through google on my holiday"

Bee said...

Brian, your translation is rubbish...

Brian o Vretanos said...

Babel fish isn't any better:

"It hears, that bad wave! Certain, my Greek bond mother but my Spanish does not let anything wish. Ojala and you try to translate my message because the translation that gave google me very is drained!"

Brian o Vretanos said...

Μπη:

Μια μέρα, θα κάνω ανάρτηση στα ελληνικά. Αραγε, θα την καταλαβαίνεις; θα πρέπει να την μεταφράσεις και για την Τζειν Νη.

Bee said...

Isn't funny how you can get two different translations?
------------
Google:
Bush:

One day, that I will hoist the Greek. Will we to understand? Should the translations and for Jane Ni.
-----------
Babel:
Mpi:
one day, I will make suspension in the Greek. I wonder, him you will understand? it will be supposed translation also on the Tzejn Ni.
-------
You know to what conclusion I've come?
Maybe it's you that's wrong! ;op

Brian o Vretanos said...

I might be wrong, but not that wrong ;-)

Neither of them understand the word for "post" in the blogging sense. I thought I was saying:

"Bee:

One day I'll do a post in Greek. Will you understand it, I wonder? You'll have to translate it for Jean Knee as well."

I suspect the answer is "No.", if those "translations" are anything to go by...

Bee said...

I gathered that's what you were saying but I got a kick out of the translations.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Bee:

I'm impressed...

Jean Knee said...

that's right, I don't do translations.


I went shopping (grimace) today and my god why don't we just empty out our accounts and sell a kidney to get our kid her my little pony dreams. as luck would have it ,I don't go in for the kidney extraction till after christmas!

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

Hopefully she'll grow out of them before you run out of spare organs ;-)

Brian o Vretanos said...

I've got to brave Toys 'R' Us at the weekend - happily Helena's not too expensive to buy for, though that makes it more difficult because you can't just head for the pink areas like you could with her sister when she was that age.