Come October, birthday time!
About three weeks later I received a letter (in Vietnamese, and with many stamps) from the main post office in Ho Chi Minh City. My Vietnamese colleague told me: ‘Packet for you! Just pick it up from the post office.’
At the post office in the little town where I live the clerk looked at me as if I deserved some very special care.
‘The packet is not here. It’s in HCMC. You have to go there.’
As I didn’t have time for the trip I asked a colleague to pick it up. Colleague went, it took some time to find the post office on the outskirts of HCMC. Then, I got a call. I simplify the ensuing mix of English, Vietnamese, and curses in proto-German.
‘They won’t give me your packet.’
‘They want a letter from our employer. You have to apply for the packet to be sent to the company.’
Dutifully, I asked HR for said letter. Two days and a few more stamps later, it went off to HCMC.
Birthday came, birthday went.
Finally, today, 51 days and at least twenty stamps on different letters and receipts later, I got my present.
NB: The address on the envelope shows a typical feature of Vietnamese learners of English – omitting /s/ or /z/ in the middle or at the end of a word, now also in writing.