When I went to the post office in Montlaur today the door was closed. On sunny days the door is always open and this was definitely a sunny day. I turned the handle and pushed. Nothing. It seemed to be jammed at the top. I pushed harder, still nothing. I could hear people inside saying something but couldn’t make out what it was. Also couldn’t figure out why no one was opening the door for me.
Then, a disembodied voice from somewhere in the region of my right
elbow – "Sonnez! Sonnez!" Literally "Ring! Ring!" In other words,
ring the bell. What bell? Finally I saw the bell, also near my right
elbow, and rang it. There was a tiny buzz and when I pushed the door,
I was a bit embarrassed but the postmaster – I just think of him as M
Poste – and the two customers were laughing and explaining that it was
new and that so far no one had figured it out. The postmaster then
demonstrated his switch, the one that opens the door. He showed us how
he can just leave it in the off position so that people don’t have to
ring. He showed us the tiny full colour high resolution screen that
lets him see who is at the door. And tried to finish serving the
woman at the counter.
We were all paying attention to the door. Who would arrive next? What
would they do? Apparently Jean Paul had been so confused by the door
and the voice that he had gone to the other door – the one that
actually goes to nowhere – and knocked and pounded and shoved, trying
to get in that way. M Poste finally had to come out from behind the
counter, go outside, and bring him in. We all shook our heads and
laughed. That Jean Paul, no patience.
Then, another victim. We waited. What would he do? Exactly what the
rest of us had done. Stand there and try and figure out what was going
on. And what did we do? Laughed and waited for him to finally ‘sonnez’ and gain entrance to our little club. Then of course we had the
explanations and demonstrations again.
It’s been 30 minutes and M Poste is still serving the same woman. He keeps getting distracted.
My turn finally. Oh, wait, another victim. She tuned the handle, she
pushed, she stopped and looked at a something taped to one of the
frosted glass panes in the door. Then she looked up, looked at the
ground, looked right, looked left. Finally rang the bell, came in, and
joined the elite. Had the demonstration, heard everyones stories,
laughed, and then explained that the arrow on the notice was pointing
in the wrong direction.
Arrow? Notice? Huh?
I hadn’t even seen the notice, let alone an arrow.
M Poste pressed his switch to open the door so that she could show us. She was right, the
arrow pointed directly to the right but the bell was actually lower
than the notice so the arrow should have been pointing to 22 minutes
past rather than 15 minutes past – if it were the minute hand on a
clock. M Poste came out from behind the counter, went to the door and checked the direction of the arrow. Yes, it definitely pointed in the wrong direction.
Now the questions. No one asked why the enhanced high tech security for the post office in Montlaur. They did want to know if M Poste was going to get a raise because now he had to do more work. And was the same system installed in Servies? M Poste runs the post office in Montlaur in the morning and the one in Servies in the afternoon. No, not in Servies. And thank goodness. It was so much extra work today explaining and demonstrating the system that he probably wasn’t going to get home in time for lunch. If he had to do it again in Servies this afternoon he wouldn’t get home for dinner either.
He said that he was wondering what would happen if he was alone and became ill and couldn’t get to the switch. How would anyone get in and find him? The consensus was that he should get one of those medallions that you can press if you need help. The ones that automatically call a number and help comes. And the La Poste should pay for it. Sounds fair to me.
He turned his attention back to me. 30 minutes in total to fill in the form to get my mail held at the post office while I’m away. I’d been there for an hour. We march to a slower drummer in the Aude. We stroll.
As I was leaving I noticed that after he examined the notice he left the door open. It’s always open on sunny days.