The other day I walked into the postal sorting office and waited politely at the counter for the man behind the glass to put down his reading matter. I craned my neck to see if perhaps he was mugging up on the latest postal delivery systems, but I think the articles had rather too many cars and semi-clad girls to be a corporate newsletter. No matter, he was sure to be helpful – after all, a sign above his head read ‘how can we help you?’
“Yes?” He said.
As openings go, it’s not terribly welcoming, but I figured I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. I held out my clenched fist and gently dropped a pile of rubber bands. They gratefully sprang out of my grasp and scattered across the counter.
“Could you possibly ask the postman to stop dropping these outside my house?”
He looked at me as though I’d demanded he demonstrate his knowledge of quantum physics.
“How do you know it’s the postman?”
“They’re red.” I said.
“Doesn’t mean anything.” He said. “Lots of people use red rubber bands.”
I look pointedly at the racks of letters to his left, bundled neatly into streets with red bands, then transfer my gaze to the mess of red rubber spaghetti escaping from a plastic container on his desk.
“It’s the postman.” I said. “Look, it’s not a massive problem, but I don’t want to have to keep picking them off my path. And it’s probably dangerous for small animals.” I threw that in at the last minute – I didn’t want to appear too selfish about the whole business.
“Can you prove it?” My belligerent assistant asked.
“Oh for heaven’s sake!” I exploded. “This isn’t CSI! I haven’t carried out forensic tests on them. I haven’t hidden in a bush with camouflage gear and a zoom lens, so that I can come in here and slap down on the counter a series of sordid black and white images of my Postie shedding elastic bands. I would just like him to stop. Please.”
“Sorry.” He said, not looking in the slightest bit apologetic. “Company policy.”
“What on earth do you mean, it’s company policy? What’s company policy?”
“Company policy to require proof of a complaint against a member of staff.” He picks up his magazine and I sense our tete a tete is coming to an end.
“What about ‘the customer is always right’?” I proffer.
“Oh we have that one too.” He concedes, and I open my mouth to reinforce my point. “Except when they’re wrong.” He concludes, turning over a page to reveal a bevy of beauties adorning a Citroen Saxo.
I must have some camouflage gear somewhere…