Last year I had lamented over the Italian Post Office, and its brazen, unabashed incompetence. So now we're here in Ireland, and things are different.
For starters, the Irish Post Office has grabbed Christmas by the horns. Barely three days had passed since Ireland's weeklong celebration of Halloween, and they have pulled out all the stops with mechanised Santas, nativity scenes, and general holiday mayhem all splayed out in their voluminous lobby. It is clear they do not intend to play second-fiddle to Marks and Spencer or Arnott's or any other high-falutin' department store when it comes to the holiday spirit.
The employees are very personable, in a next-door-neighbor kind of way: there is no faked smile, or the pretense of them being overly excited you have appeared at their window, but once there will happily chat with you and answer your questions. And while no one would accuse them of being on technology's leading edge they have their Italian brethren beat hands down when it comes to knowledge and execution of their jobs. There are still anachronisms for sure--this week we bought 140 holiday stamps, and the clerk printed out a receipt with 140 line items for each individual stamp--but at least they had the stamps at the ready and didn't have to meander for 15 minutes in the back room looking for them as if they worked in a hardware store and not a post office. (I don't mean to denigrate Italians, by the way--they are wonderful people, except for three of them in the downtown Bergamo post office who, if there is a god, will soon be burning in hell.)
So good on you, Irish Post Office, you represent your country well.