May 06, 2016

The Desk Nazi & Power over the Package

One of my finer moments yesterday.
It took place at the post office. It was a regular standoff.

 While in Holland last month, I ordered an item and had it forwarded to my work place in Lebanon. This should be no problem, I assumed. With the tracking number, I traced the package, and saw that it had arrived to the post office in Beirut on May the 3rd.

 An indeed. While at work yesterday, I got a message, on my desk, that there was a package, with my name on it, waiting for me at the post office. And so after work, I ran to the post office, because they close at 5.

I showed the lady behind the counter the paper. She had brown curly hair.
Do you have your ID,” the lady asked friendly. Of course I have my ID with me, I know the routine. Try to pry anything out of the hands of an official in this country is like digging for gold. Nothing happens without an ID. And so I gave my ID.
The package was addresses to Sietske Noshie.
My (written in Arabic) ID reads Sietske el Naosh. Phonetically, that is.

 My husband’s family, while living overseas,  dropped the ‘a’ in the English version of the name, as the Arabic ‘ain’ ( ﻉ) is basically impossible to pronounce for foreigners.
And somewhere in a government office, someone forgot the ‘notta’ - the two little dots above the letter sh, - turning a ‘shie’ into a ‘sh’. 

Anyone dealing with these office knows that trying to make a change in bureaucratic mistakes is a horrendous endeavor, and so we’ve left it at what it is.

 Oh. But this is Sietske Noshie, and your ID reads Sietske al Naosh. That’s not the same person.”
I am not sure how many frigging Sietskes you have in Beirut, but obviously this was a matter of concern for the lady.
“I need to check this with my supervisor.”
I am all in favor of making sure the right person gets the package, and so I waited patiently.

The lady shows my ID to her supervisor, a rather large and stern-looking woman sitting behind a slightly larger desk. Clearly the boss. Not someone who you’d want to mess with.

She glances at the ID.

"Sietske Jetske Evert Hugo al Naosh. That’s not the same person. The package does not say Sietske Jetske Evert Hugo al Naosh. It says Sietske Noshie,”  I hear the boss say.
Whoever in the whole entire world writes his first, his middle, then his father first name and his father’s middle name on a package? Seriously now?

She came back.
“My supervisor is checking,” she said.

What could the supervisor possible be checking? But as she sat there, counting money, I did not have the impression that she was checking anything. So after 5 minutes, I went up to her, asking her what was happening.

 She did not look up, nor replied to me. She counted her money.
I repeated my question, asking if she had received an answer from whoever she was checking with.

“Can someone come and translate from English,” she said in Arabic to someone in general, not looking at me.

Fair enough. Lebanese post office, we speak Arabic.
I can speak Arabic, but if she was going to pretend not to speak English, then I was going to pretend I did not speak Arabic. The dividing lines were being drawn.

The lady who was helping me spoke perfect English. And she kindly translated it my question. "She says the name is not correct."

 I have my company ID with me,” I suggested.
After all, the package was addressed to me at my work, and my work ID clearly states the name of the company, with the my name, just as the one on the package.

The boss dismisses it. So the kind attendant comes back.
“It is not official. Do you have a passport with you?”

This was not necessary. Logic thinking should have led her to understand that Sietske Noshie working at XXX is indeed the same woman as the Sietske al Naosh working at XXX. It annoyed me. Really? Why so difficult? And who the hell walks around with their passport in their purse if you have your ID?

And so I replied “No, you have my ID.”

Her boss, the desk Nazi must not have approved of the tone in my voice. It set her off.

Fuck her,’ she must have thought, ‘That bitch is not going to get her package. ‘
“Sorry. You must come back with your passport.”

There sometimes is – among employees of certain establishments – this perverse attitude to make it impossible for a client to accomplish a task. It’s like playing quartets. “Oh, do you have A with you? You do? What about B? As well. Hmm. What about C? Ooh, you don’t have C? Well, I am sorry, if you do not have C, I cannot help you.” End of story.

This was obviously such a case.

I sighed. Why does it always have to be this ff-ing  complicated?

But I am prepared. I have all my paperwork on my phone, and so I got my phone out.
Here, I have a picture of my Dutch passport”, as I showed her the document on my phone. “It says Sietske Noshie,” and I gave it to the kind lady, who brought it over to the desk Nazi.

You need the original,” was the reply.

Are you kidding me? This got me upset. Seriously now. Are we going to be really difficult about this?
“No, you do not need the original, you have my ID, that’s original.”
She glanced over it. “It doesn’t say Evert Hugo (my father’s names, which are not placed on official documents in Holland).”

She dug in her heels.

I finally got it. She was not going to give my package!
The desk Nazi did not feel like giving what I wanted!
She was going to make me come back tomorrow for this stupid package for the very simple reason that she had the power over the package, and she did not like me.

But I am creative under duress.

 Here, I also have a picture of my Lebanese passport. It says Sietske Noshie in English, and all the other names in Arabic.” The poor desk attendant brought it over to the desk Nazi again.
 “You see, it says al Naosh,” said the desk Nazi now, pointing to the Arabic name. “There is something wrong with her document. Why is this Naosh, and that Noshie? No, come back tomorrow.”

By now I was totally flabbergasted over the incompetent thinking pattern of this desk Nazi.  Was she seriously criticizing here that the government misspelled my name? Or that my name in English was not spelled the way she though it should be spelled?

Here I had 3 pieces of ID that stated I was Sietske Noshie. Then I had one that stated in Arabic that the Sietske al Naosh was obviously the same as Sietske Noshie, and one stating that I was indeed Sietske al Naosh. 5 pieces of evidence!

I raised my voice. “You are fucking kidding me, right?”

Oh boy, the desk Nazi did not take kindly to that. Her one eye-lid lifted itself slightly higher than the other.  She sat behind that desk like Jabba the Hutt, and gave me a dismissive glance.
 She was now resolved that she would do absolutely everything in her power to make sure this package was not going to be given to me, even though by now all the staff in the post office understood that I obviously was the lady to whom the package was addressed.
No, no mam, I was not going to get it.

 What the desk Nazi demanded now was that I
1) either call Holland and ask the person who had send me the package (which was me) to send a document that this package was actually intended for Sietske Jetske Evert Hugo al Naoush, or that
2) I get my ID re-issued under the name Sietske Noshie (in Arabic, that is). Otherwise, no way on earth was I going to get my package.

 I called Customer Care (1577, in case you ever need them. The word ‘Care’ is rather ambiguous in this case).  
The lady at Customer Care listened carefully, said she understood and asked if I could mail her complaints to an e-mail address.

Now why would I want to e-mail Customer Care if you give a phone number for Customer Care? Then post an e-mail address!!
 I declined to e-mail her. I said I needed her to resolve that right now. Well, she said, I would need to give her copies of the passports, so I could do that tomorrow.
“No, I can do that right now.”
“But we’re closing at 5.”
It is now 6 minutes to 5, and I intend to camp in this post office. Like hell am I going anywhere without that package.
Very reluctantly she gives me the e-mail address, and so I send her the two passport pictures. Of course, no one calls back, nor does the post office get a call. It is now 3 to 5.

“Can you please call Customer Care and ask them if they got my documents?”
No that’s Customer Care for customers, not for us. Besides, we’re closed now. “

I don’t ff-ing think so, lady! You don’t close until I get this package.

It was like a regular standoff at the OK Corral!
There was no way she was going to let this foreign bitch get her package.
I, on the other hand, was determined that I would leave that office with my package in my hand, even if it would mean I’d have to drag this desk Nazi out of her seat and over her desk.

At 3 past 5, just as I was getting into the mode of telling the desk Nazi in no uncertain terms what I thought of her professionalism and her overall intelligence, there came THE call. Someone at Customer Care had done some looking into my paperwork. I could have the package.

The desk Nazi had lost the battle.
But how was she going to get away with this without losing face?

“Fine. If you can tell me what is in the package, you can get it.”
Well honey, I mailed it to myself, so I damn well know what’s in the package.

I got my package.

Battle won.

I hope she didn’t sleep over this one all night. 


Anonymous said...

OMG, I know exactly which Jabba you're speaking of, and what a correct description. I sent a small package from a foreign country and attempted to pick it up after the tracking number placed it at the local post office. I didn't have "the card" notifying me of delivery, since it hadn't yet arrived in the mail. So I went and did my best, with bad Arabic and hand language, indicating a parcel was waiting. Perhaps there was a momentary lapse into reason because, after checking with a supervisor, waiting a few minutes, the parcel my great relief. Then the obligatory 5,000 LL pony up for stamp....

Anonymous said...

Yep, we know this Desk Nazi well. 8 years of receiving packages with little issue and then she decides that the IDs don't match. I had to have my mother-in-law (sender of the package) send a picture of her ID as well as the receipt for mailing the package to the email address that Madame Desk Nazi couldn't actually open. Seriously how many Caleb or Nicolette Hutchersons can there be... and all with access to the same PO box!!!

Nicole Sery Germanos said...

OMG. OMG. That s one of the reasons, I couldn t take Lebanon anymore- After 7 years I left. I would have exploded in her face. Stay strong, Sietske!

Anonymous said...

are they expecting a 'gift' to give you the package?

Kristi Lonheim said...

Do you feel better, now that you got that off your chest?! ;)
I am sure there will be a 'round two' in the future. You should charge admission and take people with you.

DragonToes said...

What a huge jerk! I'm so so glad you held your ground. This is the only way these bullies ought to be treated.

Anonymous said...

What is the email address of this customer care? Must send them a link...

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Kosher said...

Although I understand frustration I think that Noash and al Noash are not the same names. Even thought phonetically name itself could be the same, little 'Al" changes everything completely. There are family names in Lebanon such as Khoury and El Khoury that belong to totally unrelated people. I think that technically lady was right at the very beginning. However, further presentation of passport should have turned the conversation into a more friendly direction instead of stubborn denial of the obvious facts.I can relate to everyday discrimination that foreigners face in Lebanon. I have i feel that should the issue occur with a "lebanese" madam the scenario might have completely different.