While I love the convenience of browsing through and ordering my books online I’m not always delighted that it places my books in the fickle hands of the Australian postal system.
Australia Post and I have this love-hate relationship; they love to make me hate them. Previously they had just engaged in low-level irritant stuff. Failing to leave the first notice card for items was a favourite trick of theirs, meaning I got no heads-up my item was at the post office until a stern final notice informing me my package would be shot at dawn the next day if I couldn’t rescue it before then. Occasionally no notices were given to me at all so the stuff would wing its way back to the senders (Aus Post particularly like this method for stuff that comes from overseas) and the sender would then berate me for not bothering to pick it up.
The postie’s favourite is to leave a card that says “We called today but you weren’t home” on days when I am actually home. This excuse holds even less water than you might think; my “home-office” (this is a fancy way of saying small computer desk, chair and whatever space is free of books) is right next to the intercom. As a seasoned procrastinator who is always on the look-out for any excuse to take a break, even the lightest brush off that bell will have me skipping merrily down to the door shouting “Distraction! Huzzah!” and inviting the postie in to help me open the item and maybe look at lolcats for a few hours.
Australia Post and I had, I thought, carved out an agreement that this was the way things were. They failed to ring, I stormed in the door of their offices at 4.55pm just when they wanted to close up for the evening. They inconvenienced me, I inconvenienced them. Turnabout is fair play.
But no, they’ve elevated things. I received a very polite email this week from Boomerang informing me that my address – the same address that has not given me a squeak of trouble over the last two years – has returned my parcel to them, marked “Check address”. My apartment had apparently ceased to exist and they wanted to know where they send my items on to.
Now, my apartment exists. I’m positive of this. So was the postie until last week but something has obviously changed. I have come up with the theory that the Australia Post office rolls a dice (a D6, for those of you wondering) and then uses the following information to add a modifier to the result, deciding the fate of my packages. The modifiers are;
- +3 – I don’t care about the item,
- +2 – it was free with something and I wasn’t expecting/don’t want it,
- +1 – and when I get it, I’ll need to do some work related to what’s in it.
- -1 – It’s a gift for someone,
- -2 – and their birthday is imminent,
- -3 – and I missed their last birthday
- -4 – and that person is my mother.
- -5 – It’s the final book in a trilogy and/or a brand new release I have been frothing over for months (hello, Dance with Dragons)
- -7 – It’s a book I wrote for.
How does this system work? Well, they roll the dice and add that modifier and see where my item actually ends up. With a possible score of nine to minus-six, here’s what will happen to my long-awaited post.
- On a 6 to 9 my parcel is delivered super-early by the friendliest postie in Australia just after I have spent two days bitching about them, meaning I feel vaguely shame-faced for a week after for my meanness.
- On a 4-6 my item arrives on time and they fail to ring the bell.
- On a 3, it arrives but ends up in the depot 2 miles away instead of the one a few hundred metres up the road.
- On a 2, it arrives straight after I have navigated the online complaints system of the supplier and spent ten minutes filling in forms to report the non-delivery so I then have to mail and apologise to the supplier.
- On a 1 or 0, it vanishes into the ether for a month, joining my lost socks, house keys and all the copies of my receipts come tax-time.
- On -1, it ends up being signed for in a suburb forty miles out named nothing like where I live and they then try to blame me for this (yes, this has actually happened).
Now, I had never run into score under -1 before, probably because this is the first time I have written for publication in a book and earned a modifier of minus 7. My address, the same one that has allowed countless creditors to send me bills for the last few years, has vanished into thin air. What, do I suddenly live at number 12, Grimmauld Place? What are Boomerang to do, employ owls or house elves?
Answers on a postcard, please – no wait, my address doesn’t exist. Answers in the comments!