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The Post Office

The regular postal service in Indonesia is a nightmare.

We visited the central post office in hopes of tracking some missing mail, both coming and going, but we ended up almost as lost as the mail. We had entered a strange realm comprised of hundreds of people, thousands of letters, and none of it in any obvious order.

I had letters all ready to mail to family and friends, and I wanted to track some mail that had gone missing. Against Emily's good advice I visited the central post office here in Surabaya. Imagine a large barn that someone has made a half-hearted attempt to turn into an office.

As we entered this space I was dumbstruck by the sight before us. Large canvas bags were piled haphazardly on the floor. Some opened, some not. Envelopes, large and small packages, and other assorted mail spilled out onto the floor. Around this unattended dump site were a number of offices.

Having no signs to follow we entered the office nearest us.

Seven people sat around a long wooden table. A few were holding envelopes. They held them in the way one might hold an alien artifact. They were examining the artifacts, not reading the strange inscriptions. They fondled, caressed and gently patted the packages. They worked with a reverence for detail and an energy that you only see when really strong cough medicine has been ingested.

One begins to suspect that mail is not being checked for addresses. Draw your own conclusions here.

Emily asks if they can help us locate the missing mail. We are sent to another office. This new office is much the same. The process is repeated until we have visited seven offices in the barn. All the offices are staffed by these arcane specialists applying their unique skills to the business of artifact sorting.

We had time, and a bit of patience. We were also possessed by morbid curiosity. How much more special could this experience get? We entered another building. The process was exact down to the fine details. I swear the canvas bags were dropped in a spot corresponding to the other barn. The mail was scattered in patterns so exactingly similar you'd swear there was an alien intelligence directing the placement.

We were so impressed, we left.

Our thanks to Wayne Duplessis for his series of short narratives on his years living in Indonesia - working as a teacher, raising a family, traveling and generally enjoying life - from 1996 to the present.