Now, there are some things in this life that are designed to be overcome and some that we should just accept, if not graciously, then without excessive complaint. And, as much as some of us think that the grass is always greener on the other side, I can attest to the fact that on occasion, it most decidedly is not the case.
Take, for example, collecting my small winnings from the UK lottery.
I don’t generally enter the lottery in the country in which I live as I harbour suspicions that the monies are largely diverted to other causes, rather than the good causes for which they are specifically intended. So, it’s quite nice when I’m in the UK to be able to buy a ticket or two, safe in the knowledge that at least some worthy individual will get the opportunity to live in luxury funded in part by me.
So, I purchased my tickets for the Wednesday draw and, without further thought, stuck them in my pocket. The following day I remembered my tickets, retrieved them from my pocket and checked them on the app. Imagine my surprise when it informed me I had won a not insignificant amount of money. At least, not insignificant when converted into the monopoly money that we call currency.
Trotting off to the shop where I bought them, I was informed that I’d have to go to a post office to collect my winnings as the shop cannot pay over that amount.
Off I went, into town, parked the car and headed off to the post office. As I arrived, standing in front of the counter were 2 women, grinning broadly and wearing sashes. Gosh, I wondered somewhat overwhelmed, are they here to greet me? No, they were there to greet everyone! Apparently, the post office counter was closed for an audit and I would have to go to another one ‘down the road’.
Back to the car, I drove ‘down the road’ as instructed and arrived at some odd little shopping centre where I walked across the car park to the post office, located in some equally odd little supermarket. As I got closer, I noticed the queue of people lined up, chatting away, as though they were enjoying a social occasion and expecting to be there a while.
No problem, I was going to the next town later, so would head to the main post office there. This I did, only to find that they don’t pay out lottery winnings, or os I was informed. By this time, I was getting a little irked. I mean, I had now driven about 20 miles to collect my dosh and if it continued much longer, I would probably have spent the entire amount on petrol and parking tickets.
“Go to the post office near to the university”, I was advised. Eventually finding the post office I was directed to, I saw it was again secreted away inside a tiny, little supermarket… much smaller than the previous one. Inside, was an equally tiny counter hosting a sign “Queue Here”. I queued there. On my own. A one-woman queue.
Soon after, the post office lady arrived from the till right next to the counter I was standing at, took my ticket, checked it, then asked for photo ID and proof of residence. My jaw dropped open. It wasn’t millions that I’d won, not even thousands. However, I had my passport with me and a copy of my Eskom electricity bill (more about that later). I proffered both documents and waited to count my money.
“I can’t accept this”, she said waving my Eskom account at me, “it’s not from here.”
“I know that,” I replied calmly, “but neither am I and that’s where I live, my residence.”
“Oh, you don’t live in this country then?”
“No,” I said, “I don’t.”
Long story short, after a 45-minute phone call and lengthy debate, during which time I managed to purchase an excessive number of packets of Maltesers, probably to feed my anxiety, they somewhat amazingly agreed to accept my passport, along with a letter addressed to me at someone else’s UK address. Goodness knows why, but I wasn’t complaining since running between post offices had by now taken almost the entire day.
She happily took my documents and I equally happily awaited my cash. At that precise moment, she rose dramatically from beneath the post office counter, triumphantly brandishing a cheque book!
“What’s this,” I asked puzzled since I was now wondering how I was going to cash a cheque in the remaining hour of the business day that I had left in the country, “it doesn’t say anything in the rules about a cheque?”
“Oh,” she replied breezily, “it’s only because I haven’t been trained yet to hand out cash.”