The winds are blowing so hard they blew me all the way into Lugo to get the jab. Ok, I went a day early. But more on that later.
On the way to Lugo I stopped at the Correos office in Palas de Rei. We have a package that was sent to us all the way from Maine, USA. We got the notice on the 23rd but didn’t get to the post office before Christmas. Easy peasy. It’s a small post office and I arrived as winds made walking up the hill an extra chore. Only one person ahead of me.
The post office here must require the counter staff to have a masters degree in Administrative bureaucracy. And an IT department that hates all of them. I’m pretty sure when they designed the postal system, the software architects and engineers kicked back with their feet up laughing hysterically.
‘Let’s see how many screens we can make them jump through. There will be bonuses for low response times and endless loops. Let’s make the Enter key only register every forth press. And the engineer with the most obscure error handling gets another week of August holidays. And I just had a stroke of genius! Let’s do a non-emergency software upgrade, and some regular server maintenance in the middle of the Christmas holidays. And we won’t test it before we deploy! Feliz Navidad!’
The poor woman behind the counter typed so much I was pretty sure she was writing a book and it had nothing to do with me. Then she began scanning all the packages and letters in the small office as I stood in front of her. One by one. There was a stack of notices from the Agencia de Tributaria (the tax man – gulp). But no luck. Finally, she got up and went out to the van parked on the street and began rummaging through the contents. She emerged with two boxes. One of which was ours.
Then she came back around the counter, more typing, and then her eyes got big behind her fogged up cat-eye glasses. She turned the box over multiple times. So much that I could finally read the sender – now I know who it’s from – and the customs declaration form. She told me how much duty I would need to cough up. I handed her a €20 note. More typing, then she picked up the phone. Who she would be calling about this box, I really had no idea. The conversation was a long one. I turned around and found the entire population of Palas de Rei standing behind me giving me the hairy eyeball. I shrugged. What could I do?
The phone conversation continued. The woman on my end was sort of freaking out. I wondered what was in this box. What scary things could come from the state of Maine? It’s like the Canada of states in the US. Only nice people are allowed to live there. She took photos of each side of the package, including the barcode the US postal service uses to sell you the box at the mail store.
The phone was replaced in the cradle. She took off her fogged up glasses and delivered the news.
‘Do you have other things to do in Palas?’
I told her I did not. I needed to head to Lugo to the HULA for the vacunacion. She bit her lip.
‘It’s the system. It isn’t working. I can’t do anything.’ She was visibly sweating.
‘It’s ok.’ I told her. ‘You can give me the box’ it was within my reach, ‘keep the money and process it when the system comes up.’ She had taken photos of it.
But I was dreaming. This was never going to happen, and have now been instructed to come back tomorrow. I felt kind of bad leaving her there. She was going to have to deliver the same bad news to the throngs of angry townspeople behind me. And here, people have actual pitchforks. It’s not just a metaphor.
So I hopped into the car and we drove to the HULA. I decided to risk the potential wrath of the staff there, so I don’t have to make another trip into the city to get the jab tomorrow. It’s a long drive and I had a previously scheduled Dr appointment today, anyway. Jeff was getting his jab today, too. And I have discovered a flaw in their summoning system.
Once they send you the sms message summoning you for the jab, and your appointment time, you can use that QR code forever. It doesn’t expire and it is not connected to your appointment time. The third sms message contains the exact same QR code from the last two summons I received. The line monitor only checks if you have your QR code, not the appointment time. So I got in line, and showed my QR code. Jeff tried to stay away from me and pretended we were not together. He hates such risky endeavors. ‘Just drive back.’ But I was less than 24 hours early. And it was one less trip pumping carbon into the atmosphere. I was saving the environment, for God’s sake. 😉
In less than 5 minutes I had scanned my barcode, the guy pulled up my record, I was jabbed, and on my way. No problema. Jeff came out at the same time from a separate cubicle. I swear, he looked like we had just robbed a bank.
‘Did they say anything to you?’ He asked in a whisper.
‘No. I watched what came up on the screen. The guy’s job is to give me the jab. He’s not an appointment monitor. Besides, they actually want us all inoculated against this thing. It’s fine.’
And since we were in Lugo and they sent me the message that my updated car title is in at the Lugo ITV, I decided a little detour was in order. I popped into the oficina and the lady immediately motioned me forward. I went to get out my NIE card and fish the car registration out of my bag – as instructed by the message I received – but the woman just got up and waved her hand. Then she went to the big filing cabinet behind her and fished through files, finally pulling out a file containing a thick plastic folder. (Recording all my failures at performing the plethora of procedures of the ITV in Lugo, I am very sure) She removed a bunch of papers, had me sign stuff and handed me an officially stamped and signed updated car title that says our trailer hitch is now officially on the title as part of our vehicle.
I held up my NIE card in case she wanted to check who I was but she laughed ‘We know who you are.’
OK…and that’s a good thing, right?
Jeff just laughed when I told him. ‘You are becoming notorious. Even in Galicia.’
I frowned ‘I think that’s a bit of a strong word. I prefer ‘well known’. And anyway, everyone makes mistakes. And mine are all of the non-malicious variety.’
‘Yes.’ He smiled ‘and people are learning they should put out the At Lunch sign on their counters when they see you pull up.’
We will spend the rest of today hoping that the third jab isn’t as bad as the second. And after such a busy morning, The Notorious KFD is going to make herself a soothing cup of tea.