Thursday, November 17, 2005

Going Postal...

Now I fully understand the syndrome that seemed to sweep the nation's post offices a few years ago. The one where people lost their minds and did wacky things at the post office. Not that I'm going to. Watch, that comment is going to land me on some FBI watch list. Guaranteed. But if it means I'll be able to mail a simple package to Canada, then that's fine with me.

I started off today with a buzz. I happily packaged up my query and set off for my local post office. You see, I didn't anticipate any problems. Maybe that was my first mistake. But I have mailed things to Canada before, you see. In fact to the very office that this package is to go to. So, why should I anticipate a problem this time? It's not like I'm mailing anything hazardous. Well... it is a romance manuscript and I did manage to move the "sizzle" closer to the front, but I wouldn't call it hazardous. Not in the sense the postal service means it.

My second mistake was not recognizing the big difference between this package and the one I sent before. The self addressed, postage-paid envelope. Yeah, a simple SASE got the postal workers' panties in a wad. Well, they were probably boxers or briefs, since it was a he, but you never know.

I digress... The problem here is that the return envelope will be mailed FROM Canada. So, the postal employee explained that I needed Canadian postage and he of course couldn't sell any to me, because he's part of the US postal service. I asked him what I had to do. He suggested that I find the Canadian post office online and order postage from them. But he couldn't tell me how much either. Then he explained that it would probably take 3-4 weeks to get the postage.

GREAT! Just what I want to do. Wait another 3-4 weeks to get this sucker outta here.

He said I could maybe find someone who lives there and send them a check and ask them to send me the correct postage. And I thought, "where do I find this person? My hubby would looooove that! And how are they going to get it to me any faster anyways?"

So, I came home and did what any intelligent person would do. I consulted the brilliant members of the writing community. Ok, I said a number of expletives first, but then I turned to my friends. And guess what... Postal boy doesn't know a thing about the postal service. Surprised? Me neither.

Apparently there are these neat little things called "International Reply Coupons" or to industry insiders (which apparently doesn't include actual postal workers) IRC's. They are these nifty little things you buy for $1.75 a piece and each one equals regular letter postage in just about any country.

So, what I really needed to do is figure out how many regular Canadian "stamps" I would need for the size and weight of my package and then purchase that many IRC's. Easy to find this on the Canadian Post website. Then I send them with my submission and... get this, the receiver just trades in the IRC's for stamps. Hah! Who would have guessed? Apparently not the USPS who, by the way sells the darn things.

So, tomorrow I'm making another trip to the post office. And if I have to, I'll search every square inch of the building to find my IRC's. Then I am putting this sucker in the mail once and for all.

Of course, then the wait begins. The wait in which I stalk my postal carrier. Funny, that old saying for men holds true for the USPS too. "Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em."



Laura said...

Hon, you should try making those subs from here, down in Oz. I say IRCs and the postie turns and runs in the other direction!

April said...

LOL! I'm not sure what would have happened had I not received such explicit instruction from my eharl buddies. I think my assertive demeanor was what really got me the IRCs. I convinved him I knew what I was doing. Or at least I bluffed it. :-)