Life, Overcomplicated (Or The Day The Postman Wouldn’t Give Me My Parcel)

Some things in life are really bloody hard. We turn the television on and every day see things that cause fear, worry, and sadness. We have friends going through hard times. We are faced with challenges all the time that are far from easy: from moving house and relationships to holding down jobs and paying bills.There are plenty of things in life that are tough.

Some things in life, though, are easy. Really easy. Or at least they should be. Let me give you an example: accepting a parcel.

Yesterday, as we set off on a venture to the flea market and then the supermarket – both simple Saturday tasks – the man from DHL appeared. He had a letter with my name on it that required a signature as well as proof of ID. Easy.

Off I popped, back upstairs to fetch my passport. Back down the stairs I trotted, the little red book in hand, so graciously and expensively provided by Her Majesty, and presented the photo page to Mr. DHL.

Easy, right? He has an envelope with my name on it, and I am presenting an official document with my name and photo on it. A simple transaction should be about to take place.

You can see where this is going, right?

Computer says no. My international form of identification was rejected by the machine (you know the ones, they look like mobile phones from the eighties and require you to sign on a screen in such a way that the resulting scrawl is completely indistinguishable from your actual signature). Outcome: a refusal from the delivery guy to give me my parcel.

In my best German (ha!), I pointed out the ridiculousness of this situation. What do you mean you can’t give it to me? I mean, you could. You have it right there in your hand. I can see it. I can see my name, and you can see my name here in this passport with my photo. No, you really can’t? Oh, and now I have to go to the post office with the same piece of ID and collect it in a few days time, do I? Well, isn’t that a treat.

And this, my friends, is life, life that is already like navigating a several-decade long episode of the Crystal Maze, made unnecessarily and utterly pointlessly complicated.

I did feel bad for getting annoyed at Mr. DHL. (I even said thank you as he left, my parcel in his hand.) It really wasn’t his fault. He’d have gotten into trouble, no doubt, for giving me the parcel, and it’s not fair of me to ask him to risk his boss’s wrath. Of course it’s not. But I do blame a world where simple tasks are turned into a rigmarole because people aren’t trusted to use their initiative, because people are prevented from making simple things simple because of a web of complicated protocols.

I’d rather we were spending our energy simplifying the complicated, not complicating the simple.

It’s not that easy, though, is it?

And that’s a shame.

A complicated, confusing shame.

The irony, of course, is that the parcel contains my ID card for the nearby parcel drop boxes, designed to allow you to pick up packages conveniently without interaction with people…



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