So with all of this bookmooching, I've been getting lots of book-sized parcels arriving from around the world. Unfortunately, I've also got that pesky day job so I'm often not at home when the postman rings (no, just once).
When this happens, I get a little note telling me to go to the post office to pick my parcel up. Not the same day of course — that would be too convenient — the next day. But not if the next day is a Saturday because my agence postale is closed on Saturdays.
Last week, I found the little note on Friday so had to waituntil the Monday afternoon to pick my parcel up. But I got to the post office only to find the door closed with an unapologetic hand-written notice on it. The agency was closed for two weeks for a holiday (!), but parcels could still be picked up at the main Post Office. My blood pressure did a little war dance.
The next day, I got another of those chits and so took them both to the main post office. I queued for the usual eternity and smiled my best bonjour when it was my turn to approach the hallowed counter. I presented my two slips of paper along with a public transport card with my photograph and name on it which I'd dug out of my bag.
"What's that?" said the guy behind the counter as if I'd placed a steaming turd on his desk.
"I.D.", I said.
"No, it's not", he said.
"Yes, it is. Look it's got my name and photograph on it. Is that me or is that not me?"
"It's not a passport or a driving licence. For all I know, you found this card in the street."
"It would be a strange coincidence if I'd found a card in the street that just happened to have my photo on it!"
By this time, I was protesting in rather a loud voice, and peppering the argument with ill-advised asides such as "Vivement la privatisation!". That was stupid, I know from experience that one should never argue — it's best to feign contriteness. People started staring, but the nasty little man wouldn't budge and I left huffing and puffing without my parcels.
I went away for a couple of days after that and forgot all about the parcels. When I got back there was another chit for a third parcel on the doormat, and I thought, great, I'll be able to kill three birds with one piece of ID. Only this time the parcel had to be picked up from, wait for it, yet another post office at the other end of town.
On Saturday morning, I finally got round to going back to pick up the first two parcels. I'd looked out my passport and I was ready to be polite to the self-appointed guardian of my reading materials. He wasn't there, and the parcels were handed over without me being asked for any proof of identity whatsoever.
I haven't been to get the third parcel yet. It's just too emotionally draining.