Wednesday, June 23, 2010
It's in the mail
What’s weird is that in Brazil the postal service is really an afterthought. Nobody, it seems, uses the post office. Although, come to think of it, there is always a slow-moving line at our neighborhood office.
I worked in a business office in Rio for nearly a year and we probably mailed a half dozen letters the whole time. We were always using messenger boys, faxes or personal delivery. Around the holidays I suggested we send a (constituent relationship management) Christmas greeting to our clients and my boss looked at me like I was off my rocker. “Through the mail?” he wondered. “Why would we do that?”
One big difference between here and back in the States is that one does not pay ones bills via the mail. In fact I’ve been told that it is specifically illegal to send money/checks through the mail. Bills arrive in the mail (often with one day left before the due date!), but people pay them at the ATM machine, at bill payment storefronts (always a long line) or via the internet.
Days can go by and we will receive nothing in our mailbox. There is practically no junk mail. Imagine.
Package delivery can be hit or miss. My mom has remarked more than once that she believes her packages sent from Florida are transported via canoe.
I once had a phone conversation with an US IRS representative to settle an outstanding situation and she concluded: “OK then, we’ll expect to get that in the mail within two weeks.” I just laughed. “Honey,” I said, “I’m calling from Brazil. NOTHING happens in just two weeks – especially a postal delivery!”
If we are really concerned about something actually getting to its destination we send it ‘registered’ (which slows it down even further). But in general we have joined the masses that utilize other means for most deliveries and communications.
Carlos – if you are reading this – we sent your bathing suit two weeks ago. And Jake, that World Cup jersey we promised… it’s in the mail!