Today started off perfectly well.
I caught up with packaging all outstanding orders, rationalised the stock boxes following the fair, dealt with invoices etc, placed orders for essential supplies and sketched out a plan of campaign for the next 10 days in preparation for KDF.
By late morning we were on our way into town to do a number of errands which should have taken little more than an hour or so.
My good mood wasn't to last long though.
First stop the main Post Office to post the orders. For reasons best known to themselves, the PO recently decided to refurbish the office, which was not in itself a bad thing. However, insanely, they have done away with the two dedicated counters for those wishing to post packages. This means that there is just one (usually monumentally long) queue for everyone, whether they're renewing car tax, asking for Passport Application Forms to be checked, collecting pensions, buying foreign currency, paying bills or posting packages.
Needless to say only 4 of the available 10 cashier points were open, so the wait was long and weary.
I am a seasoned poster of parcels, and my post is always neatly packaged, in strong cardboard boxes, with printed address labels, customs slips correctly completed, and all supporting paperwork present and correct.
However, for some reason, most people seem to think that a paper bag, or black plastic bin liner is sufficient protection when posting a large or bulky item. A few weeks ago I stood in a PO queue while a woman tried to hand over a guitar which was 'wrapped' in a black bin liner (from which the neck of the guitar was sticking out!) with a hand-scrawled scrap of paper to serve as an address label, stuck on with a single piece of sellotape. Naturally the cashier refused to accept it, not on the grounds of the woman's stupidity, but because it posed a health & safety threat to any postal workers who might come into contact with it. He declined to tell her that it would also probably end up in the form of matchsticks, as it had absolutely no protective padding or packaging at all.
So anyway, finally negotiated the PO queue and successfully dealt with my packages (the entire transaction once I got to a cashier took less than 5 minutes)
On to the bank, where again the queue was epic but only two cashier points were open. By this time, I was losing the will to live but stoically shuffled forward till it was my turn.
Time spent in queue 15 minutes.
Transaction time 30 seconds.
Then waited for PP who had her own bank transaction to perform elsewhere. Watched completely implausible teenage Santa and his chavvy Elf handing out flyers to passers by.
On to opticians to view the frames I like from the weekend newspaper colour supplement. Quickly scanned the display racks and couldn't see them, so I helpfully produced the aforementioned magazine and requested help.
'Helpful' Assistant: Hmmm. No, sorry, we don't stock those.
Me: (Righteously) But it says here in the ad that they're available from you.
HA: Oh right. No we don't stock those.
Me: (Taking a deep breath) Ooookayyyyy. Could you order them for me to try.
HA : Oh yes, no problem. What is the code?
Me: (Slightly taken aback) How should I know? They're your frames.
HA: (Resolutely) Can't do anything without the code.
Me: (Patiently) I checked your website this morning and they're shown clearly. Perhaps if you check your own website you'll be able to find the code.
HA: (Triumphantly) We don't have the internet. Sorry.
ME: (With undisguised incredulity) YOU DON'T HAVE THE INTERNET!!!???
HA: (Slightly abashed) No. If you go round to the library they have internet access there. Get a note of the code, come back and we can order them for you.
Me: (Regaining the power of speech) So, let me get this straight. You want me to do your job for you?
HA: (Blushingly) Errrmmm. Well. Yeah. If you want those frames.
Exit opticians. Walk just round the corner to the Information Centre which has free internet access. Find website, find code, note code, walk back to opticians, provide code, request phone call to inform me when they arrive in store, provide phone number.
HA: (Chirpily) Ok that's all done for you then Ms Morris.
Me: (Heavy sarcasm dripping from every syllable) Thank you SOOOOOO much. You've been extremely helpful.
Exit opticians(again) and fight the rising urge to kick the barely post-pubescent Santa and his Elf having a crafty cigarette in the doorway opposite. A less believable festive pair it was difficult to imagine and I had already declined their offer of a tatty flyer after earlier witnessing Santa clear his throat loudly then spit on the pavement.
Christmas cheer........I think not.