Across Continents

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Smiling in Slovakia

I smiled. That was about as far as my Slovakian went. I’d a phrase book but when it came to sending a parcel home, it was a bit thin on the ground. It made no mention of the forms. Residual East Bloc bureaucracy? I’d chosen to visit the Post Office mid-morning to avoid the lunchtime rush, even found a small branch, so as to cause the minimum fuss. Even written the Slovakian for England on the package. But no joy. Not a hope. So I took back the parcel, and the forms, and went in search of someone who could translate for me. A bit embarrassing, but you have to be realistic about these things.

A friendly Slovakian guided me through the various forms. Quite straightforward if you can read Slovak, not the Kafkaesque nightmare I’d expected. But they do insist on a sender’s address, which is always a bit problematic for me. Ordinarily I’d just make one up, but the helpful young lady suggested I put hers on the form. Back then to the Post Office. Same chap behind the counter. I’d rehearsed my lines a bit more. Seemed to work. This time he took the parcel off me. I thanked him, smiled and left. You have to be polite about these things.


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