Argentine mail: where we are not, is not always good

2014, in the country of Maradona, the party popular in the people, carefully guarding the greenhouse economy from ruthless competitors from the outside, rules. In the course of the standard arsenal of elementary protectionism: exorbitant import taxes, tedious bureaucracy, screaming rhetoric and mysterious state statistics. On purchases in foreign online stores and think not worth it.

In December 2015, the opposition comes to power, led by liberal conservative Mauricio Macri. Relatively rich Buenos Aires believes in the president "of their own", who will throw off the shackles of protectionism and drive the machine of consumption. The dollar is released into free flight, inflation soars upwards with it, but the middle class does not despair: these are just temporary costs on the way to cheap iPhones with home delivery. The illusion of open international trade is more alive than ever: Amazon and eBay are increasingly flashed in the history of browsers. My book came to the threshold of the house in a month - “only” in a month, according to local standards.


In December 2015, Makri came to power, in March 2016 announced the lifting of restrictions on delivery from overseas stores, in July officially approved the plan, and in August, the decision enters into force. Gradually, people realize that this is a trap.

Presidential candidates do not always promise and think in the right order, especially considering the passions in Argentine politics, comparable only to football. To think how to stop the rush of overseas purchases, you have to be careful: it is clearly not to the governors to listen to the clanging of thousands of pots at the next strike. Barriers can not be fixed in the laws, because promising a change, you can pass for laconic. But according to the old tradition, one can make a bureaucratic web tackle so that people can avoid foreign online stores by the mere thought of postal adventures. Divide and conquer in this case is not difficult: the post office and customs do not get along with each other.

Therefore, they need to plant in one building. This, which can be reached only through the busiest interchange, dodging port trucks, or walking past a couple of stations, slums and gas stations. And not from the first attempt: sometimes here, as the locals say, “there is no system” (which usually can be understood as “the administrator asked for leave early”). And most importantly, inside there are no frills in the form of signs, chairs, or available for staff questions.

Out of love for infographics and in a rush of support from young designers, I ordered a couple of posters from a small British studio with home delivery. Nothing foreshadowed problems until a telegram with instructions arrived. Pay the tax, serve a live queue for the password to the customs system, fill out a declaration on the site, where only the home page managed to put in order, and go to the post office, again on foot. Walking, of course, is useful, but not on instances.


"Simplified Customs Declaration": just admit to the user that "help is not available at this stage." Sorry, now do not reproduce my original error about float 70.0, which was not anywhere.

Finally, the “user journey” is completed (the interface of Argentine applications is a whole separate topic), and I am boldly heading to the post office. The line stretches tightly out of the door to the courtyard and beyond the iron gates, but probably those who lost the battle with the multi-window web dinosaur. And I have everything ready! “You know, here at the whole queue everything is ready,” the postal worker responds because of the prudent partition. Two hours on foot, only to hear the mail clerk: “Hmm, yes, you are all right. Only now talk to Rodrigo, he is somewhere in the hall. ” Among the hundreds of people.


This is the year 2014, when the hall, the queues, and the complexity of their bends were a couple times smaller. Calm day by current standards. This year, neither the camera nor the mood for the photo was there, and taking a picture of the collapse of the system with my face a visiting gringo would surely have touched someone.

Rodrigo failed to calculate immediately. He wrote down my departure number on a piece of paper under a dozen others, and now the parcel is ready for issue - as soon as my turn comes. This is another turn (Level 2!), This time to customs. She slyly intertwined with a snake of people heading for the post, and getting up into it is allowed as soon as your name is named on the list. Then why do they need all these screens turned off? Probably for the decor - so my grandmother put the old monitor in the bedroom and covered it with awe in front of modern technology.

Somewhere an hour later, the customs officer still shouts out my name - a place on the floor under the shaky office partition, pasted over with a menacing signal tape “Peligro”, will get to some other lucky person. After another two long hours at the end of the second stage, I understand that not everyone listens to customs officers. Imperceptibly, having tossed in the beginning past honest fools and reproaches of their own conscience, the most cunning ones manage to get behind the cherished blank door, get rid of the reprimand and leave with the package in a few minutes.

It is dark outside, the doors to the entrance are already closed, the phone is dead. It remains only to listen to how the neighbors take turns delivering the parcels without questions, then sending telegrams, expired and fresh, then on such a form, then on another, but invariably indicating to go to the day at customs for home delivery.

In the customs section, the third line comes to an end, now twenty minutes is the same as two. Because of the gray wall they carry out my tube with posters, which cost me a couple of dozen pounds and one day of life. “Is it not your lithography?” The next time, declare the amount as it should, you are underpaid two dollars of tax. " The next time will not be: tomorrow, my plane to Russia, and I have only 20 hours left to collect everything and fly overseas.


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