After my Spanish class ended in Buenos Aires today I walked back to my hotel but stopped for a quick lunch at "Confiteria La Union" , a sandwich shop on Avenida Belgrano which I would rate with a "2" as a comfortable clean place for lunch but nothing outstanding. I swear no matter which sandwich I order they so far have looked the same despite the different names but I probably need to learn the language better :)
The high(low actually) light of the day was my quest for postcard stamps. Last night the hotel staff (who are extremely courteous and helpful so hats off to Sheraton!) informed me that the hotel does not sell stamps since only the Post Office does that but that wouldn't be a problem for me since there was a "Correro Argentina", http://www.correoargentino.com.ar/, across the street from the hotel.
So after lunch I visited the post office substation by my hotel which gave me the economic insight that the recent Argentine peso/economic crisis was actually caused by the complete inefficiency of the postal system!!!!!!! I swear I thought I had walked into a small Caribbean island airport when I walked into the Correro Argentina today. The clues that warned me that this would be a bad customer service experience were as follows:
- There was a "Take a Number" dispenser (I was #33 and the machine was on #92 so I had 41 peole in front of me since it started over at 100)
- NO customers were smiling or laughing with each other
- At least 2 customers I saw were sleeping as they waited to be called -- THIS CAN NEVER BE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH OR YOUR ECONOMY!!!!
- There were NO vending machines for a simple purchase like stamps.
- Some business people in suits were waiting so clearly there were no other options they were willing/able to pay for to avoid the Correo Argentina.
I did have to laugh though when a rather heavy set Argentine female customer asked me (the most gringo/English-speaking person in the room!!) in Spanish for insights on the speed of the customer line. I am still laughing at that experience!!
So after 45 minutes I successfully purchased my post cards stamps so now I just have to pray that someone will actually deliver the cards to my loved ones. I have not researched it to any degree as to the status of the post office in terms of privatization/government management but I can safely observe that they are not utilizing technology enough (job protection??) and that they are performing functions but left to other (private sector) providers such as banking functions (based on the huge amounts of cash I saw people handling) and recharging peoples' cell phones!!! I just want some damn stamps por favor :(
New business idea = selling spots in post office lines to impatient customers!!