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Italian Butterfly Effect


Last November, the oft-maligned and overworked people who sort the mail for Lombardy decided they were as mad as hell and not going to take it any more.
They went on strike, letting snowdrifts of correspondence pile up in warehouses on the outskirts of Milan.
But for some reason, they didn’t tell anyone. So instead of politely announcing a strike — this is usually done well in advance and also contained to a few hours — they stopped working and let the butterfly effect hit Italy’s hardest-working region.
Some 200 tons of letters, bills, packages piled up before anyone realized that things weren’t quite business as usual.
This is how I found myself in early February with the cell phone company threatening to cut off service because the credit card linked to the account had expired.
In the mean time, the bank had mailed a new credit card. And then another letter asking why I hadn’t yet activated the card. I still haven’t seen either of them.
No one has ever had much faith in the Italian postal system, I certainly have had my travails. But even though this time an Amazon Christmas shipment and another package had gone missing, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.
Mind you, there is no expression in italiano for “the check is in the mail,” because no one puts anything of value in an envelope here.
You pay your bills at the post office (for a fee) or have them debited from your bank account (for a fee) and payments are almost always deposited directly.
And if moving my bank account from one branch to another when I changed neighborhoods didn’t mean closing it (for a fee) and re-opening it (another fee) I would’ve probably been in my local branch to pay quarterly taxes or to wire money and the clerk would’ve likely warned me about the expiring card and given me a new one.
How did I find out that my telephonic lifeline was about to be cut off? The phone company sent a cryptic SMS which required two 45-minute calls, on my eurodime, to figure out what the problem was.
It took the better part of a workday to straighten it out, with an in-person visit across town to the bank, a fax to the phone company plus two more follow-up calls and an email.
The mail workers, appeased by a promise to hire more staff, are back to sorting the post again.
I know because a bill the phone company sent me in the meantime — that will have to be paid at the post office since the debit didn’t come through in time — arrived yesterday.
The laws of cause and effect are peculiar and intricate, but they always catch up to you.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 10:02 AM | Permalink

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