Cheque’s in the Mail

Call me crazy but sometimes I like bureaucracy. I like the idea of another human being, most likely located in an office park or nondescript government building, receiving a letter from me and opening it. What does that person look like? Are they having a good day? Where are they going for lunch today? It’s full of mystery.

The rules are usually well-defined. It’s like maintaining your car: put in the right type of oil, gas, and other fluids and you’ll get a smooth ride in return. In this case, I wanted a refund for the 5£ deposit I put down to purchase an Oyster transit card on a recent trip to London. Yeah, yeah, I know. All that trouble for a measly 5£? Of course, I could have stopped at a Tube station while I was still in London to return the card and get a refund. But why not give it a try from 4,000 miles away?

I filled out a refund request form on the Transit For London (TFL) website, put on the proper postage (just over $1), threw the Oyster card in the envelope and sent it on it’s way!

Today, a few weeks after I mailed the letter, I received this personalized note from a nice gentleman at TFL named Nico Williams. I was delighted to learn that my refund has been “authorised” and a “cheque” is on it’s way! It took about a half hour of my time to fill out the form and mail the letter. The postage paid by TFL was 1.17£ but other things like the paper, envelope, ink, and Nico’s time certainly cost something too.

That’s the joy of bureaucracy – I put in all the right inputs and someone 4,000 miles away put a smile on my face. Here’s to you, Nico. Hope you had a great lunch today!

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