Linda vs Latvijas Pasts

My watch broke a few weeks ago. Yes, I’m one of those old-fashioned souls who still likes wearing a watch. For me, it’s massively inconvenient to scrabble around in my cavernous bag for my phone every time I need to check the time. A quick look around a few watch shops in Riga revealed that until I reached millionaire status, I would be looking elsewhere. And seriously, would you give your money to these people?

Now if I were a Latvian woman, I could probably melt down an old door knob, forage around for a couple of twigs and have a fully-functioning watch in minutes. As I’m not, I went to Amazon. Figuring I’d kill two birds with one delivery charge, I also ordered “Teach Yourself Complete German” – Auf Wiedersehen Putin, Hallo Merkel.

And then I waited. Finally, last Wednesday, a slip informing me that my package had gone to the post office appeared in my mailbox. I’d already had an email from Amazon informing me that they’d split my delivery in two so I was only expecting to pick up the watch. Usually post offices in Riga have those ticketing systems so everything is nice and orderly – provided you can understand the service you’re looking for. This, it seemed, was not your usual post office.

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As I stood there helplessly looking around for the machine, everyone who came in shouted “Kurš ir pēdējais?” (Who’s last?) and proceeded to stand around looking grumpy. Suddenly, there was a dash for the lady at the end counter. It seemed that everyone there had a similar slip to mine, so I shoved it into the throng. She disappeared into a secret room at the back with our delivery slips.

Around ten minutes later, she reappeared. “Ginta, Gunta, Gundega, Aija, Aiga, Aiva, Ieva…” – the Latvian hands snatched their parcels and departed. “Grandy Linda!” Assuming that was me, I stepped forward – only to be told that my parcel didn’t exist. She had me write my phone number on the slip in case it showed up, and I was dismissed. It was only after I’d walked out the door that I realised I’d just handed over my only proof that the damn thing had ever been delivered in the first place.

Needless to say, my phone didn’t ring. Then today, I discovered two delivery slips in my mail box. Not wanting to get my hopes up too much, and already formulating my email to Amazon in my head, I set off for the post office – again. (This time I’d scanned the slips beforehand – aren’t I clever?) Upon realising that I’d been looking at the man in front of me scratch his arse for several minutes, I decided to take in the sights of my local area in springtime instead.

In my experience, there are few places that looking at a man with hungry bum beats the surrounding area. It turns out Valmieras Iela is one of them.

I made it to the post office and was relieved to see that there were only two other people there. I walked over to a lady in a rather ‘fetching’ white satin jacket, half-expecting her to be wearing my watch and to start speaking pidgin German. After eyeing her wrist carefully, I handed over my slip. Again, she disappeared into the back room.

This time, she emerged with one package – the German starter kit. The other package still didn’t exist. After some tutting, sighing and scanning of the bar code, she toddled off to the back room again. I got the impression that if the package was one inch to the right or the left of where she happened to be looking, it would never be found. But, to my utter amazement, she emerged a few minutes later holding it. I immediately opened both packages and yes, everything was there.

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And so ends my post about post. Linda: 2 – Latvijas Pasts: 0.

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About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Expat, Humor, Humour, Latvia, Riga and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

144 Responses to Linda vs Latvijas Pasts

  1. Postal problems abroad can really suck. People complain in the US about UPS but in comparison to your experience and other experiences I’ve read about, UPS is actually pretty good!!

  2. Kavalkade Krew says:

    Is the man you trapped going to Germany with you? What’s up with that?

  3. Kavalkade Krew says:

    So… Anyone there worried about being reswalled by the Russians?

  4. Anna says:

    The Russian post is just as bad. Nothing ships here. Luxury retailers like net-a-porter actually have a disclaimer on their site that they no longer ship to Russia bc they cannot guarantee delivery, no matter how expensive and hands-on the service. So congrats to you! Latvia 1 Russia no comment.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, yeah, I think I was pretty lucky! They should probably use DHL or something. LP is probably not the most trustworthy.

      • Anna says:

        No, I mean – DHL, FedEx — no guarantee for any of that. I mean, this place ships $5000 dresses and they’re like, sorry, if we send it with a live escort we still cant make sure both of them wont disappear into the abyss.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Luckily, I don’t think I’ll ever be buying a $5000 dress!

  5. ah! you brought me back some terrible memories with this: “Suddenly, there was a dash for the lady at the end counter.” I used to live near that place four years ago and had to go there almost every second week to pick up “lettres recommandées”. Exact same experience and even if I speak Latvian that feeling of “I don’t know where I am and what to do” was there every time, because it seemed like “interior rules” of that place changed constantly as well as the “main jacket” person 😀
    but my God – that video!! how is it even still allowed to exist on youtube – it is so wrong on so many levels – I wish I could un-see that 😦
    btw – best of wishes with your German and moving plans – and if I may suggest http://www.goethe.de/INS/lv/rig/deindex.htm is the place to go – I did two levels of intensive courses with them back in 2004 – real good -still can understand and even speak a little if needed 🙂 greetings from Brussels, Signe

  6. rower says:

    you happen to get one of worst PO’s in Riga – there are not many, that have moved from bad place (corner of Lienes & Asara, BTW) to even worse place. 🙂 to bad, you’ve decided to live in so called “old Center” ;).. and to bad, you’ve decided to move away. Viel glueck!

  7. Now Lynda……don’t know how to start…. I am a bit mad at you. Not about the postage dillemma, things like that happens often and in every country.
    I am actually very mad at you but I am still smiling. Sooo… what is this Goodbye Putin, hello Merkel? Really?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Well, I’m not saying he IS coming, just that I’m moving a little further away from Russia – to be on the safe side 😉 Merkel seems like a suitably formidable woman 😉

      • Well…I dont mind you calling Latvia Eastern Europe, but Russia? And Putin?
        Then I would be right by saying you are English, am I?
        I am not going to have a fight about this just I thought you are wise woman and after many years spent in Latvia you would know more then just that bull shit about leopard print clothing that you are desperately trying to make fun of.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Further away from Russia, I’m not saying Latvia is Russia! Probably just some ill-advised humour over a sensitive situation – that’s how I roll 😉 And no, I’m not English and I don’t have a ginger beard either – i-diddly-i 😉 Anyway, I like you so let’s not bicker! You’ll like the next post, I promise! Just having a last read-through before publishing…

  8. barbedwords says:

    Aggh, postal problems drive me bonkers. People in the UK don’t realise how reliable the postal service is there. My family sent me a couple of birthday cards last month, which they’d put together in one brown envelope. When I received them over a month later, the cards inside had been ripped open, presumably searched for money (there wasn’t any – we’re not that daft!) then put back into their envelopes and into the brown envelope which was then sellotaped shut! Why the Roman postal workers thought that was less suspicious than just not delivering the cards, I have no idea 😉

  9. I’m getting excited that you’re learning German! I’m hoping that’s another good sign 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      It is 😉 We could be neighbours in September!

      • Deanna Herrmann says:

        Woohoo!!!! I can’t wait to read your funny take on Germany (if it happens). Plus, maybe we can meet for a pint someday. Then I can get your autograph. 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’m hoping it’s not nearly as easy to become ‘famous’ in Germany 😉 And YES to the pint – German beer…drool 😉

      • Deanna Herrmann says:

        No you’re right, it won’t be. It’s really a great country. But just like any culture, there is a lot to poke fun at. And you’re are the BEST at doing that.
        Yum. Yum. Have you tried enough to have a favorite yet?

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’m still working my way through them 😉 I’m a big fan of the weiss beer though! I think German bins will be one of my first posts. Some Latvian chick who moved there got in trouble with the ‘bin police’ after her neighbours got suspicious that she wasn’t sorting her rubbish properly. They went through it, found that their suspicions weren’t unfounded and reported her 🙂

      • Deanna Herrmann says:

        Lol! Oh yeah. Germans are sticklers for rules and paperwork! My MIL’s landlord gets on her all the time on not putting enough of the “yellow bag” items in there instead of regular trash.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I don’t even know what that means 😉 I’m sure I’ll be in trouble all the time!

      • Deanna Herrmann says:

        Well I’ll be glad to help any way I can! I am married to a German after all so let I can always ask him. 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Perfect 🙂 Although it will make for better blog posts the other way. I wonder if they have wifi in German prisons…

      • Deanna Herrmann says:

        Haha. Good point.
        Hmmm that’s another post. The internet and cell service kind of sucks here. At least in the region I live in.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’ve noticed that in a couple of places – and lots of places don’t take cards! Latvia is streets ahead in both respects, I must admit. That’s where it ends though 😉

      • Deanna Herrmann says:

        Oh yeah! Germans pay cash almost exclusively.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Bit of a pain 😉

      • Deanna Herrmann says:

        Agreed. 🙂

      • Emmi says:

        In Germany they dont take cards in bakeries, small corner shops, hot dog stands and such like. apart from that they take not only credit but even debit cards everywhere so you`ll be fine. as for the garbage make sure you sort it out properly, Germans can be a bit anal about that – and about breaking rules in general. I once crossed the street on the red light because I was in such a hurry and I actually heard a few people screaming at me to come back and stay untill the light turns green! other than that Germans are fairly nice people. customer service is excellent, neighburs are polite and always say Hello. And also everyone rides a bike, even small children. This way you can save on transportation costs – you should definetely try it! Yet as an Austrian country girl, I prefer my native Austria where people are a bit more warm-.hearted and helpfull in my opinion.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’ve never been to Austria but it’s only a short hop from Germany so I’m sure I’ll make it sooner or later! Yeah, I’m a big fan of the Germans – and customer service really is fantastic. And I noticed the bikes and scooters etc. – love it. Especially as there are proper cycle lanes and people stay where they’re supposed to. Oh, and the pavements aren’t full of holes!

      • Emmi says:

        I was however a bit disappointed with the food selection I`ve seen in the German supermarkets. Not enough dairy products, fresh produce and way too much sausage! By the way the German definition of sausage is completely different from the British one. The firts time I tried a British sausgae, I was like, are you kidding me? German and Austrian sausages are like chubby solid and flavourfull grill hot dogs (not a fair comparison but still) while British sausage is like a mash of some poorly cooked meat in a plastic wrap. Eww. And in general I would say, Austrian, Belgian and French grocery stores rock, Germany takes second place in my personal chart ( not great but good enough to survive) while UK must have the wort groceries in the world. The stereotype about the horrible English food is totally true. Most dishes at ASDA and other supermarkets are actually ready made. Hardy any raw products. Do British people not cook at home? However, I heard from a British friend of mine who recenty went to Riga, that Latvia has some great supermarkets and farmers markets with lots of milk, fresh produce, cheeses and such like. Is it true? Could you make a comparison post on Latvian vs Irish vs German food once you`ve sttled in there? Would be really interesting to know.
        P.S: Both Germany and Austria have very little to no cupcake shops. That thing is basically unheard of here. cupcakes and cheesecake are almost the only two British products I enjoy.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I was really impressed by the German markets – everything is so shiny and clean. Actually Germany in general is pretty shiny and clean 😉 The quality of food in the supermarkets here is not great – the meat especially. It’s incredibly fatty. There are quite a lot of little markets though – and one big one! As for all the convenience food in the UK, I think you’re probably right. I don’t know how many people still cook meals from scratch there – sad really!

      • Emmi says:

        glad you liked it there. definetely go to the Oktoberfest if you can – thats where you can sample the best sausage and beer!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Oh, I fully intend to!

  10. How exasperating – although it all turned out ok in the end, but think of all the energy you expended to get there! I’ve not had a problem when I’ve gone to collect a package from the Royal Mail, but I did have a mystery the other day when a scribbled note from the postman, on the back of one of the letters that had been put through my door, seemed to suggest that there was a packet waiting for me at my neighbour’s house. I went round and she didn’t have it – we couldn’t understand it. Luckily, the next day I was in when the postman came round so I asked him what had happened to my parcel. Oh that, he said, that was yesterday’s postman just reminding himself that he had a parcel in his bag to drop into your neighbour! Mystery solved. 🙂

  11. Kavalkade Krew says:

    Try a smaller bag?

  12. bevchen says:

    My local post office has never lost a parcel, but I swear they purposely employ the slowest people on the planet. There’s one older guy in particular who I DREAD getting! He speaks slowly, takes the delivery slip slowly, searches for the address in the system slowly and then shuffles off at snail’s pace to sloooooowly hunt out your parcel. Aaargh!

  13. freebutfun says:

    …und jetzt mal abwarten, wir wollen alle auch hören wie du mit der Deutschen Post zurechtkommst 🙂
    There is something about mail offices in different countries… I was once almost thrown out of one in Malaga; I only wanted to get stamps for a parcel but the guy at the counter spoke too fast for me. Every time I asked him to speak slower he spoke louder getting more and more agitated. At the end he was fuming (literally in my mind, the best cartoon image: a short, round, bald and red guy with smoke rising from the top of the head) and wanted me out of there (that I did understand), and I couldn’t help but almost roll on the ground out of laughter, after all, spoke some Spanish and some English, but I knew the Chinese guy in line after me didn’t speak any of those and had already asked me how i spell ‘China’ in English… We really made the day of that customer service officer… 😀 PS I still don’t know what his problem was. At the end another staff member just gave me stamps and sent off the parcel.

  14. Baiba says:

    Nostalgic stuff this time. I used to live on Valmieras street for 10 years, we moved away only 1,5 years ago (we might even have shared the bus 52 or trolleybus 22:)). I actually liked it there, strange as it sounds:)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Me too actually 🙂 It’s more real than other areas of the city. Although I haven’t been on either of those buses – I walk everywhere! Apart from to one lesson in Jugla but that would be a bit of a trek 😉

      • Ēriks says:

        Walked through the Valmiera street neighourhood (Stabu iela, Avotu iela) couple days ago. It really has it’s charm, mostly due to the variety of the buildings and their facades, each house is different in it’s own way. Hope they’ll restore them sometime (especially the wooden houses), altough making this district too sterile would ruin it’s appeal (at least to me). There’s something about “gritty” buildings that makes them look real..

      • Expat Eye says:

        I don’t think this district is in any danger of becoming sterile 😉 But yes, it would be great if they even gave some of the buildings a lick of paint – it would make such a difference!

  15. Antuanete says:

    You are lucky to have first interaction with Latvijas Pasts now, not around Christmas time. THEN it’s horrible experience! My local PO (in Ogre) is quiet and nice usually (though last time it has been renovated was clearly in 1980-ies), but before Christmas it turns into crammed, hot, sweaty and time-consuming hell. And no ticketing machine, of course – they are only in central LP offices, where there are lots of people due to office buildings around.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’m a huge fan of the ticketing machines! In the banks too – just makes everything so much more relaxed – you can sit and wait, not stand and grump 😉 I haven’t been to Ogre – you recommend it??

      • bevchen says:

        There’s a place called Ogre? Surely you HAVE to go purely for the name?

      • Expat Eye says:

        I was thinking of buying a Shrek mask and doing it 😉 There’s also a Malta here – I doubt it’s anything like the real thing though…

      • Antuanete says:

        Actually, the best sight here is, ehm, forest 🙂 Ogre Blue Hills nature park is close nearby, it has lots of trails, small lake and recently built viewing tower and is very popular among runners, hikers, MTB-ers and just families from the town. Soon there will be anemones and other flowers blooming, and in general this is forest for beginners 🙂 If you intend to come, please let me know in e-mail.
        Apart from forest and river, nothing special here, few historical buildings, one pedestrian street, some cafes, that’s all.

        For other readers – spectacular as it is, town name is spelled not like “ogre”, but “U-Ogre” (I don’t know how to properly write this double vowel, maybe Linda can clarify).

      • Expat Eye says:

        OOWAHGREH! 🙂 I remember laughing the first time a student told me they were from there 🙂 I hear you’ve got a lovely new car park as well? Forest for beginners sounds good though – even I could probably handle that!

      • Mārtiņš says:

        A huge fan of the ticketing machines? Then you must like that in some Rimi you have to take a ticket to get their food weighed in plastic boxes.
        To me it looked weird. However, more often than not, it seems that nobody cares the customer in supermarkets.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Hmm, I’ve never done that in Rimi 🙂 I do like that I can swipe my card and it tells me if Heinz beans are on special offer though 😉

      • Antuanete says:

        Honestly, I don’t know about any new car parks; probably it is something very local which your student mentioned, because didn’t know anything else impressive in whole town 🙂
        Think about that forest; I can figure out where you can get beer afterwards 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        I might bump into some of my ex-students 🙂 I’ll email you if I decide to pop down! You can be my OOOWAHGREH guide 😉

  16. Yay watch! And German!

    The video was a bit lost on me. It sounded like they were singing about Ikea, which made the visuals a bit confusing.

  17. Anita says:

    LV post is cheap at least. After moving back to ‘civilized land of all dreams u could ever imagine’ Australia, I stopped ordering online because I couldn’t afford it.

  18. tidl says:

    omg, that video was amazing :)) all essence in 7 minutes or what

  19. while I’ve heard some stories of parcels never arriving here in Lithuania too, I must say Lithuanian post has never lost a single parcel I’ve sent or was expecting be it local internet shop, Amazon, Ebay or other shops and sites I do my shopping and selling on. So I’ve no complaints regarding this aspect. But I must say that service in my local post IS S L O W. One would think they’d want to hire personnel who can actually type, instead of ones only able to press seemingly random keyboard keys with their pointing finger of only one hand at a speed of one hit per 15 sec or slower 🙂

  20. Mārtiņš says:

    You must have visited the Central Market for the watch procurement. часы электроника, google the pictures (as a souvenir or gift – more than perfect).

    By the way, have you been in the Central Market, felt its charm?

  21. People in America love to hate on our postal service but they have absolutely zero clue as to how good we have it here! Hilarious story. I’ve never heard the term “hungry bum” before. I will now have to find a way to use it at least once a day to make up for all the lost time that it hasn’t been in my lexicon!

    • Expat Eye says:

      You’ll notice more of them now you have a term for it!

    • Daina says:

      So true that Americans don’t know how good they have it, especially when it comes to the low cost of mailing a letter or package. However, the inconsistency of the US Postal Service has started driving me mad. This past Saturday I mailed a package from the DC area to Michigan (500 mi or about 800km distance), and amazingly my mom received it on Monday. My sister’s family mailed me a package and a separate card on the same day earlier this year; I believe it was Wednesday that the items were mailed….I received the card on Saturday, the package (not a large one by any means) on the following Tuesday.

  22. expatlingo says:

    No photo of the watch or the ass scratching?

  23. nancytex2013 says:

    Good God woman. Leave. Now.

  24. Sharn says:

    It sounds like an Australian Post Office.

    I’ve had some post office trauma let me tell you. You’d think the tracking online would convince them they had it in their post office somewhere. But noooooooooooo.

    I feel your pain and yay for getting both of them!

  25. I think you were lucky not to have to pay to receive your mail. When I was in Slovakia, my daughter sent me a package for my birthday containing, as proclaimed on the outside wrapping, 1 bar of soap, 1 sponge, 1 bottle of cologne, and 1 hair barette. I could not claim it unless I paid 500 korun because the post office insisted that I could sell these items and that was against the law. Vainly, I kept insisting it was a birthday gift that I did not intend to stand on a street corner and offer for sale. The official just kept repeating “Law, law, law.” I checked it out with one of my Slovak friends who assured me that happened because I was an American receiving an overseas package and the Soviet thinking was still in evidence.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Wow, thankfully we’re a bit beyond that! Although I did notice that there was a fee if I didn’t pick up the stuff within 10 days 😉 Guess I could always flog it on a street corner if times get hard 😉

  26. Daina says:

    Glad to hear that you received both packages! Und bald werde ich hier nur auf Deutsch schreiben! 😉

    I still hold a grudge against LV Pasts for a transgression dating back quite a few years when my sister was living in Riga, and I sent her a really nice large Ansel Adams calendar for her name day and she never ever received it.

  27. lafemmet says:

    I made a watch last month. Munchkin needed one on both arms. A real one on one arm wasn’t enough. SO I drew one on paper, cut it out, and taped it around her wrist. The actual time part didn’t matter. She doesn’t even know her numbers yet. Glad you got your stuff! 🙂 I know about postal challenges!

  28. lizard100 says:

    It’s amazing how these things work I other places. There’s a need for ticket machines here in Holland. Otherwise it’s “wee is on the bert!’ (Whose turn is it?) which can be a but frustrating. Any sense of order seems not to apply to women over 65! Apparently someone said they are exempt! (go Muchael D!)

  29. Mārčuks says:

    I learn something new every time I read Your blog. Didn’t know that Laiks isn’t latvian company and has such a gorgeous TV commercial.:D

  30. Lāsma says:

    Just wanted to say you’re cool. 🙂

  31. Never had any problems with Latvijas Pasts, I visit the post office almost every day to receive and send parcels and always in every post office everything is OK, or maybe I am just lucky.

  32. June says:

    Now if I were a Latvian woman – or June… 🙂

  33. Every expat has to have their post office story. Rite of passage. What took you so long?!

  34. I feel ashamed about that video. Really feel sorry that in my motherland someone could make something so sick. 😦 But anyway- thanks fore sharing. And, yes, there are always problems with Latvijas Pasts.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I know – that video is wrong in so many ways!! I’ve heard that LP are notorious for messing things up so I feel very lucky! 🙂

      • Liga says:

        How did you even find the video. It was…well…wow. Who would have thought that it was possible! It must have been a hell of a brainstorming session. Wow… I guess I am saying a sort of a Thank You? 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        I have good friends who send me all sorts of disturbing things 🙂 Usually I find a way to work them into a post! This one was particularly awful, I must say!

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