Friday, June 3, 2011

Don't stuff my box

After years of fairly flawless, if not zombie-like service here, I am always taken by surprise when there is a blip in the system. I think this also increases my reaction to said event disproportionately, causing me to lash out rather than take it in stride as I would in a less service-oriented country like Canada or the US. Yesterday I arrived home to see that two packages containing a shirt and pants had been unceremoniously squeezed through the narrow slot on my mail box. I almost fainted with shock.

I live in the city where the post is a perfect system of pick-ups and deliveries, where you can even specify the time you want something to be redelivered. I could send you ice cream or cheese through the mail it's that good. When a package looks like it won't slide easily through my mail slot, the postman either buzzes me or leaves in it an automated lock box that I can access with a swipe card.

Those packages were not made to be shoved through my slot. I pulled them out and inspected their crumpled messes, turning them over and over for clues as to how they even made it through. Why the postman decided to shove them through, I do not know, but I was seized by a feeling of extreme pissed-offness and I wondered aloud to whom I could address my complaint. Could I call the post office? Leave a nasty passive aggressive note taped to my slot? I was studying this problem with the intensity of a laser and I was dearly disappointed when I realized there was no one to complain to that would make it worth it.

The beau was some kind of horrified when the nice shirts he'd bought in Canada were thrown, unfolded into a paper shopper. The ceremony of service that you get here can drive you a little crazy sometimes (see: woman at the grocery store who has a polite phrase for every step of the purchasing process that she has to cheerfully SHOUT at me when I am buying a bottle of water--> Over here please! Sorry to have kept you waiting so long! I'll take that for you! This is 126 yen! I'm receiving exactly 150 yen from you! 24 yen is your change! And here is your receipt! Oh you don't need a bag?! Thank you so much for your troubles! Thank you! Please come again! Thaaaaank you!!!!!! Next!). I started to tune out when I realized long ago that while some service people are genuinely nice, most of the lovely things that are said to you are part of a grand act, where the actors play ass-kissing shopkeepers while they silently don't give a flying fuck about you or your purchases or your problems kthxbye. So when I am all tuned out and grooving along and I come across some incredibly shitty service person, I put on my bitch gloves and really feel like letting them have it, even though I often don't. Nonetheless, I would kiss the toes of postal workers, who are always so careful with my packages and who have written, "This package got wet en route so we dried it at our office. We sincerely apologize for the delay this has caused," on my deliverables before. As a result of all this, I have concluded that the postal worker that day, the one that stuffed my slot full with nary a thought of the crushed, broken packages inside, must have been a foreigner.

19 comments:

BiggerInJapan said...

and a green-eyed one for that, obviously. Those are the worst, without exception.

Marie said...

Maybe it's time for a trip to the UK where clearly no one gives a rat's arse about customer service. Would make you forget about this incident and make you want to rush back to Japan :)

Awad A. said...

Your fortunate you have a service like that, where I am from, we don't have a postman. You have to open your mailbox located outside the post office building, where the temperature can reach 45deg Celsius.
I envy you!!

Melon said...

yup. foreigners.

LOL

Mr. Salaryman said...

Seriously, I wouldn't even dare to think what would have been the result if this had happened here... Mrs. Sunshine would hunt down the person through the system, probably make his/hers boss come over to apologize and the financially compensate us for it...

I'm more "live and let live" for things like this, but these kinda things can unleash the beast in some Japanese people (and actually, rightly so, I'm just too Swedish and don't want to make a fuzz...)

Chris said...

"Over here please! Sorry to have kept you waiting so long! I'll take that for you! This is 126 yen! I'm receiving exactly 150 yen from you! 24 yen is your change! And here is your receipt! Oh you don't need a bag?! Thank you so much for your troubles! Thank you! Please come again! Thaaaaank you!!!!!! Next!)."



I'm laughing a lot tonight :)
Sorry about your stress but I can literally "feel" your pain.

They sometimes don't even turn around to see you while they shout "ira simasei" or whatever when you go into a conbini.....man...spare me the superficial greeting and just get over to the register. It's so fake it's like a giant gag.

Some folks who visit cite it as a product of an evolved and cultured society...um....they gotta say it cuz it's their job and they are not even that thrilled quite often.

If they ever offer ocha-zuki as you leave a house in Kyoto DO NOT accept...it's just a fake offer, accepting it is considered extremely rude.....

Very complicated and wonderful and extremely bizzare culture over here.

Plastic and fake also come to mind...but I digress...

Great post :)

Natalie said...

LOL. This is perfect. I love the punchline of your post. You've got the Japanese mindset down perfectly!

Gosh this makes me miss the conbini days... I remember the first time I had to buy something alone in a convenience store, I was freaking out trying to find my change (I didn't know the coins yet!) and a nice girl at the cash register told me to take my time and helped me sort out the coins. One of those small "blips" of actual sincere service that stuck with me...

Sarah said...

Couldn't have been a Canadian postman, they're on strike!

A visit to Vancouver always reminds me of just how bad AND how good service can be... and how fake Japanese good service really is. Sigh...

Sex Without Borders said...

No one likes having their box stuffed! Of course that's never happened to me here in Japan but I can imagine if it did happen I would be mega surprised too.

April said...

Don't ever come to New Orleans, Louisiana, where I'm lucky if I even get the correct mail. I usually end up with some other person's mail. Bad customer service is the norm, so that on that extremely rare occasion I receive moderately well done service, I'm amazed! Cashiers are usually too busy talking to someone in another line or talking on their phones to check me out in a timely fashion. If I complain, I usually hear how it's not THERE fault! Aw..the South...how I hate it.

crousemouse said...

Baahahaha! That is awesome because it is SO TRUE! A Japanese postman would be horrified if he discovered that this had occurred.

Rydangel said...

man, my postman won't even get out the truck to try and deliver a package(and they know someone's home because the car is in the driveway).they just put a pick-up at the post office slip in the mailbox. i always get the neighbor's mail even though my last name and house number is on the door of the mail box.i don't even have a set time the mail is delivered anymore. 2 years ago, the mail was delivered by 9am. now it comes anytime between 8am and 4pm.and good luck filing a claim for lost or damaged items.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Biggie: Hands down, the.worst.ever.

Marie: I love service in the UK! From the prim and proper to the snarly chav salesgirls :)

Awad A.: Where are you located? Do you not have a mailbox at your home residence?

Melon: Gets me every time!

Mr. Salaryman: I'm glad Mrs. Salaryman is holding her own, we strong independent women have to stick together. I try not to get hung up on stuff like this, but for a couple minutes I was visibly seething.

Chris: "It's so fake it's like a giant gag." Totally. It's such a performance most of the time,I find it hard not correcting tourist or foreigners with blinders on when they wax on about how everything here is polite and genuine.

Natalie: When I meet with sincere customer service here it makes my day. Some people really are lovely, some simply act that way.

Sarah: I KNOW! Shocking isn't it, my mom was sending me something and told me about the strike. On an unrelated note, GO CANUCKS GO!

SWB: All this talk of boxes and stuffing is making me rethink the title!

April: I would actually love to visit NO some day. Is it that bad? I would be scared to use the post. I've had horrible service in the States and really good service too - particularly the CSRs for online shopping-related stuff. And department stores!

crousemouse: He would! I can't believe my regular was the culprit here.

Rydangel: That's ridiculous. Really though, Canada post is not much better. Expensive and inconvenient.

Generic Jen B said...

Heheheheh! Loved the cashier transcript!

Also, squashed parcels? Kills the joy of the parcel receiving experience dead.

April said...

"I would actually love to visit NO some day. Is it that bad? I would be scared to use the post. I've had horrible service in the States and really good service too - particularly the CSRs for online shopping-related stuff. And department stores!"

Being a tourist is far better then living here. But yes, you will still experience the terrible customer service. Never be in a hurry either. Everyone moves like they are stuck in tar.

gec said...

I super heart the couriers and post office delivery guys. Always waving, nice on the phone when I reschedule, etc. But I really really hate this one clerk at the post office though. She's just too stupid. cf. https://profiles.google.com/106090692538111620601/posts/f3dpwRWFPz7

Oh and RE service talk, I thought it was pretty hilarious: we were sitting around the corner from the Starbucks counter at Haneda airport, heard someone drop something, and they went "shitsureishimashita" and then in that all-chime-in-group-think thing the others followed too with "shitsureishiamshita!"

adam said...

wow. I have just today stumbled upon your blog. But I believe that now I am going to be a reader. I just like reading what you have to say. And it helps that I plan to move to Japan next year so I look for all the information I can get.

Anonymous said...

Service darling? I don't care if it is fake. Just acknowledge that i am in your store/restaurant etc. In Paris they greet you with "Bonjour monsieur/dame!" In Japan it may be"ira simasei". At least they look up and acknowledge that someone has walked in. I can't tell you how many stores I have walked into in Vancouver and the 'pretty girls or boys" behind the counter can't be bothered to say "hello", "if you have any questions/need any help" let me know". Trust me, they don't want to know.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Jen: Totes! My roaring anger at the postman definitely dampened my excitement to receive a package.

April: That sounds kind of nice right about now (the moving slowly part)!

gec: I am a HUGE fan of the chorused "shiitsurei shimashita!" It's so lively :)

adam: Welcome :) And don't believe everything you read - much of this is only what I experience.

Anon: Yes, it's nice to be acknowledged. Beyond that though, if they can't at least pretend to be genuine, I can't be fucked. Many of those same "pretty" salespeople don't know when to shut up and think it's helpful to engage me in fake conversation they can't wait to get out fast enough it's surely scripted.