FOSSILS ROCK THE HIGH STREET

Or: Where is the Parcel Store?

Witness the scene:  a long snaking queue in the post office.  You have 11 minutes before the post goes and you need to get your notarised business documents into that bag.  In front of you are at least 6 people queueing to post parcels.  Some post offices have really helpful staff, who explain at great length the 25 services they are no longer allowed to offer. You really hope you aren’t in one of those.  You will miss the post.  But some don’t offer this service.  Some simply, baldly (some would say curtly) (if not in fact quite rudely) state that they don’t do whatever you have asked. 

Now when you see someone at the counter with a parcel, neatly tied up with string, being told that they don’t take those parcels here, you would be forgiven for thinking that the world had in fact gone mad.   And when the parcel sender quite mildly asks: “But isn’t this where I post parcels?” You can only sympathise.  And understand the code given by the post office staff: “THIS ISN’T THE PARCLE STORE”.

Going to post a letter.  Deceptively simple process.  Write it (if you own paper, a pen and cohesive thought), put in appropriate envelope.  Find/buy a stamp.  Fix to letter (usually self adhesive now so no licking) (but don’t lick self adhesive and then expect it to stick) (don’t not lick the old glue sort and expect it to stick).  Then find post box.  Nothing like a dog poo bin.  All sorted.

Parcels – they now can be sent by ordinary humans.  Anyone.  And not necessarily from a Post Office.  That is for post.  Parcels can be post.  They are also parcels.  And not also post.  Keep up.

If you want to send a parcel to return online purchases you usually require a bar code or QR code or unique code.  A code.  A label.  Can be a print at home or one supplied by a seller/sender of parcel in case you want to send anything back.  A sender who doesn’t want you to send anything back won’t send a label (also called a pre-printed return slip, a QR code (etc see above).  You will have to access your account online (with a password which is case sensitive and shouldn’t be easily identifiable by a crooked stranger – but should be memorable by you.  But shouldn’t be your date of birth, name, address, or other easily memorable thing). And the latest torture is to add numbers and symbols. But I digress. Access your account online and find and print the label.  Hopefully called a return label – but you never know.

Pack up the parcel.  Size matters, as does fragility and security.  Could be headings for different topics in the help section of a website.  Very different.  Again if it is print at home you will need Sellotape. Probably parcel tape for the parcel.  And or strong paper or packaging.   Be careful not to obscure any part of the words or hieroglyphics (codes etc – see above).  Finally take it to the Post Office. 

You could be forgiven for thinking that means the Post Office.  BUT NEVER ASSUME THIS.  The parcel store is not the Post Office.  And please, if you value your – well words fail here – credibility(?) do not make this assumption to anyone who works in your local Post Office. 

You need to know that in most (even tiny) high streets, the newsagent/corner shop/estate agent/convenience store/petrol station (aka garage) (I won’t go on) double as THE PARCEL STORE.  For lots of different delivery companies.  To present your parcel to the counter of the Post Office is like asking at the Doom Bar if they sell John Smiths.  In some establishments it is also like asking them if they sell drugs.  Just be prepared for the consequences. 

My tip is to pick a really busy time in the post office.  Ask everyone else in the queue if this is the parcel store.  You will have a massive amount of help from everyone in the queue.  The queue may also evaporate as most of it realise that this isn’t the parcel store.  Post at will.

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