I went to the post office!
I said goodbye to a great many books, the exact weight of which I will have to tell you when I receive them back in the US-of. My receipt says that I shipped two packages at 5 kg each, but no way was I only carrying 10 kg when I felt like I was going to die. Granted, I had overpacked the shopping bags I was using, and the handles had broken before I even reached the metro, and that might have something to do with it...
I make adventures for myself. I had to walk past the Central Telegraph building to draw out enough money, and then come back, and saw a sign that said "international shipping" pointing into a sketchy backdoor area. It fit with my assumptions that the post office would be in this creepy place, so I might as well follow the sign, right? And so I did.
After fifteen minutes in a line I wasn't meant to be in (and feeling like a character in Sorokin's novel) I saw that everyone had filled out forms and asked the person in front of me where I could get some. He dug a set out of a cardboard box, and I decided it would be worth my while to duck out of line, write the forms with very careful beautiful handwriting, and then start again. And so I did.
Halfway through the form-filling, I got to the question "what items are you shipping and how much do they weigh?" I asked a woman, nearby, if I had to weigh every book individually or if I could get away with writing "books." She replied - and you've been waiting for this realization to come - that I was in the wrong room, the wrong line, using the wrong forms, and I needed to go into the main entrance. And so I did.
There, I became momentarily discouraged by the "line" (read as: "pressing crowd") of citizens around the first bank of windows, all of which read "Mailing throughout Russia." I kept walking down the hall, walking walking, ooh cement glue! walking, walking, and came upon the "Packaging and Mailing Internationally" window.
There was no line! See, above, the weird can't-actually-be-the-right-weight parcels the employee made of my books. Three didn't fit, but that's a number I can handle. It's a magic number!
The best part was when the employee finished with the second parcel (really, they are parcels, cardboard paper wrapped in twine, om nom nom) and asked, "More sdelaiem?" [Will we make (or do) the sea?]
I thought, "I couldn't possibly have heard that correctly," and said, "Shto-shto?" [Sorry, what?]
I thought, "What the shiz? What sea? I don't get it..." and - as my mind always draws up for reference when I hear the word "more," the phrase from Tolstoy came to mind, "nashe more otchaiania" [our sea of despair] - and I got all the more confused.
She looked exasperated at this point, but was kind enough to explain: "Do you want to send it by sea or by air?"
"Ohhhhhhh," I both said and thought. "Sea'll be more economic, right? Let's do that."
She nodded, and started typing up the receipt.
Meantime, I pictured a Russian freighter sailing the oceans, blue "Pochta" sign on its hull matching the roiling azure of the oceantide, and then I pictured a Somali pirate vessel taking said freighter captive, and then I couldn't decide if I was dreading that possibility or hoping it'd occur, since I'd thereafter be able to say, "Pirates stole my research."
I'm sad they don't ship crude oil and the post on the same vessels.
3 weeks ago