5 simple rules for visiting a post office

Getting to the post office is an important endeavour. You can’t just walk-in and mail something. Keep in mind these five simple rules.

I am not sure if you had the opportunity to visit the post office recently. In the 21st century, who needs them? Well, the government does, as nothing is considered an ‘official mail’ unless it has been handled by our beloved India Post. In fact, physical mails are so endearing to the government that it is illegal for anyone else to send a letter in India. Private couriers send ‘documents’. If one of us lesser mortals delivers a mail via a private courier, it is not evidence in the eyes of the law. However, no one dare question the sanctity of a registered post.

Anyway, I digress. I and few other members of team Nayi Disha went with six bags-full of mail to the General Post Office (GPO) at Fort, Mumbai. The bags included envelopes containing the draft Dhan Vapasi Bill addressed to all members of Parliament. I learned a lot on this trip. If you must go to the post office, please remember these five simple rules –

  1. Remember the time

Getting to the post office is an important endeavour. Have a lot of time allotted for it. You can’t just walk-in and mail something by the method of your choice. There are multiple windows for different tasks. So, you wait in line before your mai-baap, ask them politely where you may start the complicated process of sending a mail. Once they reply rudely to you, you head to another window, and then another, and then find out that the person who is supposed to do the actual work is not at his desk; paan break to banta hai, how would the post-office walls remain red otherwise?

Also, you should not dare to arrive at a time inconvenient to the postal workers. You should not come during evening hours, as they must be home early, and how can we common-folk disturb their post-lunch nap? And the mornings are too busy. If you have bulk posts, come Friday morning, post-office tumhare baap ka hai kya? Dedicated employees at India Post work for the government, not to serve you, they will cater to you when the time is right.

  1. Carry cash

In Digital India, all post offices are supposed to be digitally connected and accept digital payments. But thousands of them remain without these facilities. Even the General Post Office in the financial capital of India is unable to accept digital payments. It doesn’t matter if you have one mail or one thousand, the payment mode is cash only. If you must pay electronically, become a corporate entity, apply in advance, fill-up forms in triplicates, and beg to pay them in their preferred mode.

  1. Don’t bring business without permission

On seeing our six bags-full of mail, one employee at the GPO commented – “Aap aise kaise aa gaye itne mail lekar? Hamse poochna to chahiye tha?”. The mistake was ours, how could we think that the biggest post office in the city of Mumbai can process some 780 envelops in a single day? We should have consulted them. Begged them to allow us to bring them business. And we should have known in advance that bulk mail windows accept no more than 27 items from one person.

  1. Don’t come around festivals

Put that Rakhi away, your brother can wait. Festivals are a busy time for postal workers. First, there is extra workload before festivals, which is completely unexpected, and then postal employees should spend time with their families during festivals, when else are they going to utilise their precious leave time? Your letters can wait. Oh, and remember they asked you kal aana? Why do you have to send mail today? Jab unka kal aayega, tab hi mail jayega.

  1. Prepare to be ignored

The post office is eternal. It was here before you were born, and it will remain after you are dead. You should be glad that they even bothered to grant their kind permission to post a letter. You may be a king with private courier company, but to postal workers, the post office is their kingdom; you are their subject, bow your head and pray that your mail reaches the intended recipient. Anything else you demand will be ignored. Even if you try to help them by giving an electronic file of recipient addresses to ease their burden.  

Finally, due to the paucity of time and our misfortune, we had to accept our failures in pleasing the postal authorities and mail the draft Bill via a private courier company. It was only three times cheaper, picked up the mail from our office, treated us with respect, delivered on time, and did not even give us the voyeuristic pleasure of watching their employees spit paans on our white walls. 

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