or, what Max does for fun.
I had been at the post office yesterday morning to pick up a book I had ordered. I had taken my passport with me, just in case, but they didn’t ask to see any ID. There was another package notice waiting for me when I got home last night – I knew it would be a CD that I had ordered for my brother. I went back to the post office this morning, but this time I left my passport at home.
And anyone that has ever gone to pick up a package at a Czech post office already knows exactly where this is going. If you want to make things easy, you take your passport with you; if you’re in the mood for a bit of sparring, you leave it at home.
I handed my notice through the window. The woman asked me for ID. “Občanský průkaz, prosím.” The game was on.
The first piece of photo ID I found in my wallet was my UK learner’s driving licence. I handed it over.
This is a driving licence.
Well, I need to see an ID card.
That’s what we use for ID. We don’t have national identity cards.
Well then, I need to see a passport.
I don’t have my passport with me, but I have a copy of it.
Oh no, a copy is no good. We need to see the original. Where are you from?
I’m American. Look, here is my American ID.
Oh, good. You do have ID, this is fine.
Actually, that’s a driving licence too.
And she went to get a book that had pictures of all the different IDs they could accept from different countries, although I think it was just EU and EEA. At any rate, the book contained neither a British driving licence photo card nor a California driving licence.
She still insisted that I would need to present my actual passport. I questioned the rationale of not being able to accept two ID cards + a copy of my passport as a substitute. But she was a true civil servant and she was not going to bend any rules just for the sake of reason. She refused to give me my package.
I live just around the corner from the post office and so I was back within a few minutes. I handed the notice and my passport to the woman behind the glass. She then apologised that she had not been able to accept anything less than my passport. I said that it was okay, that the rules weren’t her fault. She told me that I spoke Czech very well, I thanked her for the compliment. She gave me a paper to sign and then finally handed over my package. We smiled at each other in acknowledgement of a game well played on both sides.