Stamp from Czech Republic

Prague, city of light, city of magic! The crown jewel of Eastern Europe, Prague has a long and storied history, full of strife and intrigue. The architecture is awe-inspiring. The people are kind and friendly. The cuisine is powerfully delectable. The post offices are a fucking nightmare.

Maybe I should rewind a bit to clarify.

During my time in Prague, I had a package delivered to me. I should rewind a little more. While I was in Berlin, I ordered a package. But, as I was ready to leave Berlin (I had drunk all the beer, you see) and move on, I wanted to have the package sent to the next stop on my trek: Prague. You see, there exists a magic address called Poste Restante where they will send the package to the central post office of whatever city you want. Neat, right? Sounds easy and convenient, right? Well, if you have any idea how my articles work, you should have at least a vague concept of much of a clusterfuck this is about to become.

"Hi…your…friend…or, or Satan…maybe she's Satan, said that you could help me out with getting my package."The following is an entirely true story, and the conversations are posted as close to verbatim as possible, as much of the talking was in Czech, and it's just a silly language.

I walked down the marvelous streets, surrounded by a crisp breeze. Clouds obscured a sun that longed desperately to bless the land below with its golden rays, but was basically being told to fuck itself. It in turn told the clouds to fuck themselves, and they had a massive sky-based orgy that resulted in something that looked like shit, but felt warm and inviting (much like the orgies I host). Regardless, I was excited on this day, because this was when the package I had ordered was expected to arrive in town. I was practically giddy with excitement (except not really).

After some hard research (twelve seconds on Google Maps) I discovered the location of Prague's central post office, and quickly sauntered over like a motherfucker. Upon arrival I quickly learned that fuck, I still don't speak Czech, and that would really, really help right now.

The massive hall of the post office had a couple of dozen different windows full of people that look positively exuberant about assisting other people, but unfortunately, they each had a different number above, describing what each line was for, and each in a different color, with a short description under the number of what it was. It was also in Czech.

I soon surmised that I needed to get a number and wait for said number to be called, so I stumbled around pointlessly for a few minutes before I found a machine that dispensed numbers. It was right by the line of people getting numbers from a machine. Hindsight's 20/20.

Unfortunately you had to tell the machine what kind of number you wanted. Like, which line you wanted to wait in, and I still didn't know that, because I suck.

Fortunately, stumbling around aimlessly muttering curse words under my breath paid off, as I managed to find an information office, and lo and behold, the jolly bastard inside spoke English.

Sort of.

"Hello…do you um, speak English?"

"Of course! How can I help you?" He seemed quite happy to get the chance to use his English skills. Or maybe he was this happy about everything.

"Yeah, I'm here to pick up a package…"

"Yes?"

"…I, uh, where do I do that?"

"Over there, by windows 1 through 4."

"Oh, cool, thank you. That is much easier."

"You're welcome."

Still smiling.

I ventured to the number machine again, now confident that I knew where I needed to go.

The machine did not dispense numbers for windows 1 through 4.

"Excuse me?"

The information man looked up at me to answer.

"Oh, hello again. Has a problem?" (Note: Grammatical mistakes are his, not mine. Although some are probably mine.)

"Yeah…uh…where do I get a number to wait?"

"I don't understand."

"I need a number to wait in line, and your machine might be racist because it won't give me one."

"Oh, you don't need a number for those lines. Just go stand there."

"Awesome." The whole post office should be like that.

So I headed over to the lines. Only two windows were open and only one was unoccupied. I approached.

Czech Republic Post Office

"Hello."

(Something something in Czech. Sounded kinda Russian.)

"Umm…I need to pick up a package."

A questioning look.

"Umm…a, a package?" I considered grabbing my crotch to help illustrate my point.

"She speak English," he said, pointing to the occupied window next to us.

"…okay."

"You are welcome," he said, sounding like he meant anything but.

The second window soon opened and I approached a very haggard looking woman who had clearly earned a deep-seated hatred for… probably everything. She looked so pissed.

"Hello, I'm here to pick up a package."

(Something in Czech.)

"Umm, English?" I asked tentatively.

"He speaks English," she said, pointing to the window I had just come from… that was also closed now.

"There are four different ways that there is no one there. Here, I have the order number," I said, setting down a slip of paper with my order information on it.

She eyed it skeptically.

"That number means you hate me," I whispered quietly, pointing to the order number.

"Go there," she said, pointing to the information office.

"I already did, he's all smiles but—"

"Go there." It was not a suggestion.

"…Yes ma'am."

I walked across the hall once more, empty-handed.

"Hi!"

"Oh, hello…again. What now?"

"Well…the succubus over there told me to talk to you about getting my package."

"The what?"

"The package."

"No I mean— um, well I can't help you with that…you will need to go back to them."

"…I don't want to."

"They can help you."

"…okay."

So I left the information booth yet again and walked once more to the line.

"Hello."

"Yes?"

"He said to come over here…he says you can help."

"No."

"…isn't it your job?"

"He can help," motioning once again to her co-worker, who had finally returned to his seat.

"Hi…your…friend…or, or Satan…maybe she's Satan, said that you could help me out with getting my package."

"No speak English."

"That is so cool because you don't even have to. Here," I said, placing the order number in front of him.

He eyed it with nearly as much disdain as the she-devil at the other window, but he actually typed it into his computer.

Yes! Victory!

"We do not have."

Wait! Shit!

"…What?"

"No have package."

Oh so now you know what package means.

"…Could you check again?"

"No. Maybe try tomorrow."

"Well the order said it would be here today…"

"Try tomorrow." This time the woman said it…she was more than a little off putting.

"…okay."

So I left, broken. Defeated. And more than a little disappointed in the quality of the local customer service. When I got back to McDonald's (my local base of operations) I checked the interwebs and discovered that according to DHL (the package delivery service) the parcel was delivered on Tuesday. (Note: It was Thursday, which is Tuesday only in the sense that fuck you it's not.)

So okay…okay, I'll try again tomorrow. Maybe things take a few extra days here when coming from another country, kind of like how they're just now getting the hang of VHS. Yeah, totally gonna work this time.

It totally didn't work.

I returned the next day to find a new set of people waiting to "assist" me at the parcel pick up window. So, I approached, and in my best "idiot tourist who only speaks loud English," I said "Hello?"

"…Yes?"

"Umm…I'm here to pick up a package?"

"Where is the package?"

"Whoa, really do things backwards around here, huh? …Umm, I would guess it's probably in a storage area of some sort. Perhaps a closet."

"……"

"…This…this is the order number…" I said, once more sliding the series of digits across the counter. He looked at it like it was poison. He leaned over and asked the person at the next window something in Czech, and then started typing the number into his computer before he got an answer.

"We don't have."

"…Yes you do."

"We don't have."

"I checked with DHL, they said the package arrived days ago. Did, did I like, miss it or something? Do you guys like, burn the packages if we don't get here quick enough? If so, amazing incentive, but that sucks so bad."
"Try here," he said, tapping his computer screen.

It was an address.

"Is this where my package is?"

"They maybe have."

"Is it another post office? A warehouse? A brothel? A post office brothel?"

He seemed less than amused by my suggestions of post-related prostitution. Or maybe he simply sold his happiness in exchange for his legendary unibrow. I was envious.

"Sometime package go not here."

"…Yeah, I noticed that."

"Sometime package go there."

"…So it is a post office…and they sometimes get packages from here by mistake?"

He nodded, but I'm pretty sure he was just doing whatever he could to make me go away the quickest. Can't really blame him.

He leaned over and asked his co-worker something. I looked over and—

"AH!" Shit! It was Satan again.

She straight up glared at me.

"Yeah…I'll try that other post office now."

"They are closed," she growled. Literally.

"…Did you eat them?" I asked hesitantly.

"They open tomorrow. Then, they close on until Tuesday."

"Right…thank you…so much…I'll go tomorrow. Goodbye forever."

I then ran as far away as I could.

Okay, day 3 in the Clusterfuck Saga, time to find this goddamn post office.

First off, good luck navigating public transit in Prague. It's, umm…different. I passed by several castles and got an awesome view of the river, until I found out that there was no river by the post office.

I walked after that.

Three hours later I finally managed to find the right street, and eventually I located what appeared to be a post office. Although it had no signs.

A very beautiful woman held the door for me and for a brief moment I thought that my Post Brothel idea might impossibly be correct, but then I realized, like I do every day, that I am stupid, and that this was just a regular post office. Simply one with really hot customers.

Once more I put on a full stage performance attempting to illustrate the point that I needed a package, and that they should give me that package. And that all they had to do was type this goddamn number into their computer.

It didn't seem to click with anyone.

Eventually someone noticed that "Hey! This guy doesn't seem to speak our language!" and that the strange, guttural grunting noises I was producing were in fact a form of communication, and they quickly (24 minutes and yes I goddamn counted) produced a fellow with a respectable command over the English language. And by that I mean he knew the words "package" and "we totally don't have yours."

God.

Damn.

Ring Ring

"Pick up the shitting phone…" I muttered to myself, crazily.

"Cole? What are you doing?"

I had decided to stay at a hostel for a bit while I sorted some things out. One of the other guys staying there, a Dutch fellow whose name shall be excluded, seemed to be watching me with a morbid sense of curiosity, and also a bit of concern, mixed in with a dash of what appeared to be fear.

"I'm calling DHL directly. See if someone there accidentally murdered my package."

"Still trying to get that thing? I thought it was supposed to be here days ago."

"Yes."

"…I'm, uh…gonna get a beer. You want one?"

"Yes. All of them."

Not quite sure what to make of this, the man wandered off.

Ring Ring.

(Something in Czech that I will assume was "Hello? We hate you.")

"Does anyone in there speak English?"

"One minute."

Yes.

"Hallo?"

"Yes, I'm calling to report some bullshit."

After that statement I went ahead and explained the entire situation, and all of the bullshit contained within. I gave him my tracking number.

"Ah, yes, your package is at the airport."

"…Fucking what now?"

"The airport."

"…Is it trying to go somewhere?"

After a brief exchange in which I'm pretty sure he muttered some creative Czech curses, the man told me that I should go to the DHL facility at the airport, as there had been some problem with the postage system (no shit) and it was now there.

So I went to the airport facility… two days later when it opened again.

"Hello?"

"Hallo!"

Please note, "hallo" is not Czech for "hello." I think it might be a very specific ancient druidic curse meant to invoke the demon of fucking my shit up.

"I need you to not hate me."

No answer. No English.

I simply gave him the tracking number.

He smiled.

Then left the room.

For a while.

Eighteen minutes actually.

Then he came back.

"Sign here."

What is it with these people and their sudden onset English? And…that's my package! Yes! Praise sweet Odin above!

So I signed. Got my package. And then went back to my hostel, where I started drinking all the beer I could find and began writing a very angry article describing my experience with the Czech Postal System.

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