The Swedish Post

Periodically we wind up with some small chore that would be easy to accomplish in the US, but seems to take ages to sort out from abroad. For example, I got picked for jury duty in SF. All I needed to do was fill out some form on the Superior Court website letting them know I moved, but the website would never resolve… I checked it several times per day on multiple devices, even using a VPN service, but no luck. Ultimately, my Dad was able to access the site and fill out the form for me. For some reason, I couldn’t access the site from Sweden.

So when The German was notified that the IRS couldn’t process his tax return, we braced ourselves for the worse. (Funny that the IRS was able to cash his check just fine, yet not process the paperwork.) After some back and forth with Deloitte over email, it turned out he could just print and sign a single page, and then mail it back to Deloitte, who would sort out the rest. Sounds simple, right?

Step 1 was to find a printer. After locating a Kinkos-esque type of place, we spent 30 minutes trying to transfer the file to them. The file was on his phone, and they said they have a new spam filter and the email he sent wasn’t coming through. They only had PCs so we couldn’t AirDrop the file to them. And they didn’t seem interested in actually helping us, so we left. They claimed they would email us when they received his document. Unsurprisngly, we haven’t heard from them.

We were meeting a friend at their office before going out to dinner, so we thought we’d try there. At first, it looked like the printer wasn’t working. However, the magical “try turning it off and turning it on again” did the trick and we got it printed… on A4 paper. (Hopefully this doesn’t come back to haunt him but there’s really no way to get 8.5 x 11 sized paper here.)

The next day, we spent about 30 minutes in a 4 block radius trying to locate a post office. Google and Apple maps were failing us. We eventually asked someone in a convenience store, who told us a bunch of Swedish street names we didn’t really understand so we just wandered in the direction he was gesturing. Ultimately, through a combination of Google Translate, aimless wandering and sheer luck, we managed to find an official postal counter inside a grocery store.

But from there, I think the whole transaction took less than 5 minutes! We stood in a short line and then were greeted by friendly clerks, who helpfully explained all the mailing options, sold us a single envelope, and efficiently sorted out the postage. They loaned us a pen to address the envelope, double-checked it all looked good, and wished us a nice day! And when the clerks weren’t busy helping postal customers, they acted as cashiers for the grocery store!

This is pretty much the opposite of every experience I’ve had at the Castro post office, where there’s only one grumpy employee, moving as slowly as possible, unable to find your package, and absolutely not caring about any aspect of their job. Maybe the USPS could get some tips from the Swedish Post…

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