Out of the Frying Pan…

I got a failed delivery notice from the Post Office. I get these a lot – I’m at work during normal delivery hours. So I went through the arduous process of rescheduling. By “arduous,” I mean scanning a QR code and translating the different boxes so I know which information to put where. I selected a night delivery, since I knew I’d be home. In the process of doing so, I forgot to add my name. This reset parts of the form, which I did not realize. This detail will become important in the next bit of the story.

I got a second failed delivery notice from the Post Office. They had tried delivering while I was technically on my commute home. How had this happened? Well, when the form reset, it reset the delivery time. I harumphed up to my confirmation document, and sure enough, under time, it did not say “19-21.” It said something in Japanese, which I know is not a good sign. I put two and two together, and realized that when the form reset, it changed my time to “any.”

There is a rule I had learned – one of the many rules I had been trying to follow. It is this: never miss the second delivery.

I asked my coworker Harry what I should do. “Babe,” he said. “Never miss the second delivery.” (I like Harry. This was not helpful.)

I asked up the chain of command, to one of our PCs.
“Was this the first delivery?” She asked me.
“…No.” I had to grudgingly admit, sensing the answer.
“Ah,” was her response, followed by a solemn pause. “Well, you must call the number. They will have your package. And maybe they will resend it.”

So I called the number, which had been conveniently programed into my work cell phone (I must not be the only one to break the commandment). After a long message letting me know how much the phone call would cost down to the tenths of yen, I spoke to a nice gentleman who I am going to call “Charlie.”

“This is *Charlie*, how may I help you?”
“Yes I need to reschedule delivery of a package.”
“May I have the package number?”
“Yes” *reads package slip number*
“One moment…ah.”
“What?”
“This package cannot be delivered unless released by the sender. Who is the sender?”
“The slip says ‘Japan Post.'”
“No, Ma’am. At the top of the slip, under the line labeled ‘Addressee’ you will see a line labeled ‘Sender.’ Please read me the name on that line”
“It’s in Japanese, but I had it translated. The sender is ‘Japan Post.’ You are the sender.”
“We cannot release the package unless it is released by the sender.”
“You are the sender.”
*Frightening long pause*
“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I cannot help you with this. Maybe you must go to Kawasaki and reclaim your package in person.”
“I don’t understand. If you’re the sender, then you should be able to release my package for delivery.”
“Yes ma’am. I don’t know why it’s labeled that way. That is a strange decision. But we cannot help you. Will there be anything else?”
“I suppose not. Thank you.”

I have seen glimpses of the bureaucratic web here in Japan, touched the outer edges with the help of a native speaker. Mostly I avoid it as much as possible. There’s too much paperwork, too many redundancies that must be crossed and recrossed. I think that’s why the rule is so simple. Don’t miss the second delivery.  And I did catch the popular speech pattern of “maybe/must.” The Japanese don’t like to speak in absolutes, though they certainly use them. In order not to offend, a “must” gets softened with a “maybe.” But the must is still there, iron under all that linguistic cushioning.

Japan Post sent me something from Japan Post, and Japan Post could not resend it until it gave itself permission to do so, which it could not do. This is the sort of kink that might send one to Kawasaki, to the customs and immigration mail depot.

No, I’m not going to Kawasaki. I’m convinced that something will happen to right this situation. I’m also wondering what the package might be. I think I have all my important Japanese documentation – what could Japan Post be trying to send me? Why is it standing in its own way?

I was going to find out what happened in about ten days. I will write the conclusion in my next post.

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