Precision

Last week I visited a friend I hadn’t seen since Christmas. We usually meet twice a month, but because we both were sick during the last months and because of other circumstances, we had a six week break.

In that time I sent her a letter, which she showed me at my last visit: A strip of paper was glued onto the envelope, informing us that the envelope did not meet the specifications since it was smaller than the required size of at least 9 x 14 cm.

My friend and I couldn’t believe it, especially since I had sent her letters with that type of envelope before, and there had been no problems with it. Interesting also that the size did not get any mention by the clerk when I posted it in person at my post office. So we measured the envelope, and indeed: it had a size of only 10 x 13,5 cm…

Even my friend – an otherwise extremely proper Japanese woman – found that ridiculous. I can see that too small envelopes may wreak havoc with the modern machines used for sorting mail these days, but since I wrote the address in Western alphabet, it was very likely that a real person had to handle the letter anyway. A real person with obviously too much time on their hands…

By the way, the little note also said that “as a courtesy, we forwarded this letter regardless of the size issue”. Sorry guys, but I call bullshit on that one: The only reason you had to forward the letter instead of returning it to me was that I didn’t include a return address…

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