Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An exercise in absurdity

In which our Diva should have known it couldn't possibly be that simple

I should have sent off my entry to the Pre-Raphaelite Society's poetry contest well before today, since I'm now crossing my fingers that it will arrive by the October 31 deadline, but, well, no room in the brain for non-Macbeth things. (I still keep wanting to say that name WITH GREAT DRAMA, Geoffrey Tennant style, but I could never possibly give it quite the flair Paul Gross does.)

Regardless, I expected to make a quick stop at the post office to buy an international money order for the £1.50 entry fee ($2.40 at today's exchange rate) and a 95-cent stamp, drop the letter in the mailbox, and be done with it.

Instead, I discovered that, although I am absolutely positive I remember buying at least one UK-bound money order from the USPS and/or Western Union some 10-12 years ago (before online transactions became the norm for such things), the lady at the post office looked over the available list on her computer several times (and looked under UK, Great Britain and England), then called her supervisor over to confirm that no, they couldn't sell me a money order that could be cashed in the UK. Practically anywhere else (including the British Virgin Islands!), but not jolly old England.

At the Meijer customer service counter (which includes both USPS and Western Union services) the girl couldn't even figure out what I was talking about, and her supervisor (with what I'm fairly certain was a Swedish accent) regretfully confirmed that no, they couldn't help me.

The bank, as is to be expected in this age of electronic everything, was deserted but for half a dozen employees who gathered around trying to think of a way to solve the problem that wouldn't involve a $40 fee for an international draft. They didn't manage it, but I got the feeling it was the most excitement they had all day.

In the end, I pulled £1.50 in coins from the leftovers of last year's trip (having exchanged my remaining paper money at the airport but forgotten the change), taped them to a card, and put everything into a small padded envelope to make it less obvious. Halfway to the (different) post office, I realized that this meant it was now a package and would require a customs declaration. The very sympathetic postal clerk shook her head at my account of the afternoon up to that point, then asked if I had tried a currency exchange. *headdesk* D'oh! Of course not. And it was a little late to think of it now. But it'll definitely be what I try next time.

If I were feeling cleverer, and didn't need to render my house something resembling hygienic ahead of my parents' arrival tomorrow, I would have attempted to render this tale in the style of Lizzie's letter from Nice. It would only be appropriate, after all. Plus ├ža change...

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