Somewhere between the high, rolling hills of Andalucía and the grey, rainswept landscape of northern England, a bundle of Sunday newspapers is, as I write, being transported by post from one region to the other. This is the story behind that journey.
On Tuesday, a man - let's call him 'me' - walked into Malaga central post office to enquire whether a parcel he was expecting had arrived because there been no note left by the postie and he knew for a fact it had been sent a while ago. The woman behind the counter shuffled off to see what she could find and, a couple of minutes later, shuffled back again clutching the parcel in question. Hurrah!
She proceeded to scan the bar code in the customary fashion until, quite suddenly, her face fell in the manner of a school child being told there's no chocolate cake and pink custard left, only gooseberry pie.
"There's a problem," she spluttered. "It's past its collection date, so I can't give it to you."
"It's past its collection date because nobody told me it was here, madam. Please give me my parcel."
She shook her head timidly while I turned a fetching shade of purple. By this time the office manager was on the scene.
"I'm afraid we have to return to sender." she wasn't curling her lip, so I knew her intention wasn't an Elvis impersonation to lighten the mood.
"But the sender is 2,500 kilometres distant while I, the recipient, am right here a mere 20 centimetres away."
She then said the three little words guaranteed to bring a even a ninth-consciousness level Buddhist to a state of incandescent rage. "It's the system."
Suppressing the urge to biff a nearby Peppa Pig cuddly toy on the boko, I took a deep breath.
"Good God, woman. It's not a question of 'the system', it's question of common sense. Give me my parcel, please."
At this point she shoved it under her desk presumably fearing - and not without justification - that I was about to swipe the thing from her grasp and leg it to the nearest taxi rank.
I'd realised by now that any further interaction was pointless. The newspapers I was so looking forward to reading on my day off, while quaffing unhealthy quantities of beer, were about to be sent back whence they came so that, upon receipt, the sender could once again post them to me in the reasonable, yet probably futile, hope that the postman at the other end might have a go at doing his job properly and let me know they'd arrived.
As a parting shot, I did enquire whether 'the system' would also triumph over common sense if we were talking about some important medication or a delivery from Australia or, indeed, a delivery of important medication from Australia, but by now the shuffling had reached fever pitch and all concerned were busying themselves with tasks I suspect weren't entirely urgent.
I headed for the door, defeated. The other customers shook their heads in sympathy and from the back of the hall I swear I heard a gentle thud as a bundle of newspapers was loaded into the back of a van to begin the first leg of a journey that I still can't comprehend is actually happening.
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