Back alley village mail dealings

There is that general, “Well, shit” feeling when you arrive home and find you missed a package delivery from the post office. There are in fact no words in the English language that can truly surmise this feeling if you live within the 94109 zip code of San Francisco as it means that you need to go into the hole that time forget which is officially and happily called, “Pine Street Station”. That writhing sack of dog ass of a post office gave me more night terrors than any need to have to deal with the DMV and it took me six months to renew my driving license once.

But in Spain, a great boatload of money is obviously sent up Postal River, destination, Correos as the post offices are far more staffed than any I ever saw in the US and if you do need to go for package pick up, it’s not really a big deal other than having to make a detour to swing by there. When living in Barcelona, this was hardly an issue as I lived a five minute walk from the main post office. In Priorat, it’s a bit of a different situation given that the entire county only has 9,000 people and so postal service is not so widespread.

I was however to learn that it didn’t used to be like this and pretty much every doinky village, even one like mine with 600 inhabitants had a satellite office with some limited hours. These were the plush days of the aughts however and times, they changed to the point where there is now only the single post office in the capital, Falset where they know me by name and I probably owe them a drink.

It was interesting to find that in moving from Porrera (a 20 minute drive to Falset) to Marçà (a two minute drive to Falset) that as something of a mea culpa, if you miss a package, you get a second chance. You don’t need to go to Falset to recover your latest shipment which is really to say, whatever the hell you’ve recently ordered from Amazon. No, due to the fact that the mail carrier for the village, Enriqueta, lives in the village, on your missed delivery slip you’ll see you can go to the pick-up point at 12:15 and get your package.

Where is this pick-up point? If you have to ask, you’re obviously not from the village. A month ago, I was not from the village and didn’t know but made the error of logical assumption that it was the Ajuntament or Town Hall. No, that was far too easy as there, they informed me the point of pick up was at the Casal. There is no real direct translation for “Casal” other than “community center” and I’ve talked about the one in neighboring Capçanes fondly. The Casal of Marçà however, not having a decent bar at it, was completely unknown to me, and was described as being, “Well, you know, up on Carrer el Sol.”

I did not know Carrer del Sol either but thankfully that actually appeared on Google Maps and as it was just striking 12:15, I ran up there. In addition to explaining the location, the woman at the Ajuntament also explained that there is a limited window to get your package. “Enriqueta shows up at 12:15, opens the window and stays there until everyone is dealt with. If there’s no one, she leaves after five minutes.”

Thankfully, despite arriving at a potentially package-adverse sixth minute, she was still there given that two other people needed to pick up packages as well and do the requisite shooting of the shit. I had assumed that Enriqueta would open up some door on the Casal to install herself with missed packages. Perhaps even a matching wobbly desk and chair with a cracked laminate that was once a shade of taupe would be in order. I emphasize this as there we were, standing outside the Casal, on the street, and at the back of Enriqueta’s personal car where she had the trunk open with various packages.

Despite the official Correos uniform that she was wearing, this mail operation gave off the most curious aspect of strange, back alley dealings like we were looking for a new watch, or a proper, yet contraband and untaxed faucet from Germany. But there was my box and there was Enriqueta with the scanner, logging it in as delivered once she’d handed it off to me. I’m sure there are stranger ways to have your mail delivered, but I’ve yet to see them.

I have to admit that it’s a great deal more endearing than the substitute mail carrier at my old place in San Francisco who would simply smash mail in the boxes or then just leave it on the floor if it didn’t fit. Such was and I assume, still is the postal hell of 94109.

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