The post-offices convey and deliver periodicals, letters, printed matter, parcels and money orders for private citizens, establishments, offices, plants and organizations. Railway, motor and air transport is widely used for carrying mail. Letters and periodicals are delivered daily by the post offices to the home in urban and rural areas. The technical equipment of the communication services is constantly improving. Stamping, parcel binding and letter sorting machines, conveyers, hoists, electric cars, etc. are used in the post offices.
There is a post-office in every town and nearly every village in the country. The large towns, of course, have more than one.
Post-offices are not open at all hours of the day. They close at a certain time, and in many countries they are always closed on Sundays and on public holidays.
The post-office has many duties. If we pay a visit to our local post-office, we can see a number of windows with a notice in big letters showing the operations handled. The first one is marked "Parcel Post", the next one is "Money Orders." Then there’s one marked "Poste Restante" (A. E. - "General Delivery"). Going down the line you’ll see: "Stamps", "Postcards". "Stamped Envelopes", "Registered Letters". In some conspicuous place you’ll find a board with the postal rates. This will give you all information about how many stamps are needed for inland or foreign letters, that is, how much postage must be paid on those letters. Then somewhere near the entrance you’ll see a notice giving the hours of delivery.
The window marked "Parcel Post" handles all parcels or packages. Don’t forget to insure your parcel if you’ve got something really valuable in it. This costs but a trifle, but makes delivery double sure. The larger post-offices even maintain a wrapping and packing service.
If you want to send printed matter (newspapers, magazines or books), you’ll have to go to the window marked "Book Post". These are found, true enough, only at larger post offices. At smaller post-offices the window taking care of general mail service (usually the one marked "Stamps", "Registered Letters") will handle book post, too.
The "Post Restante" window keeps mail until called for. The post-office maintains this service for those who prefer to pick up their mail in person.
When sending a letter of particular value you should have it registered (with or without declared value). The advantage of this service is that registered letters are not left with the ordinary mail in the letter-box, but delivered personally (the addressee has to sign for them). The sender is, given a receipt at the post-office, so he can always trace the letter. If you want your letter to be delivered by special messenger without any delay, you mark it "Special Delivery". Of course, there will be a special charge (for the service), but if the letter is urgent it is worth it.
The "Money Orders" window needs almost no explanation. You may send money orders by mail or by telegram. The important thing when making out a money order is to write legibly (a good thing to do in general, by the way). Illegible handwriting leads to delays in delivery. And whatever you do, don't lose the receipt.
Sometimes for various reasons people are required or choose to send their letters or telegrams with reply pre-paid.
If you are not sure whether the person still resides at the particular address, you add on your envelope: "(Postmaster) Please Forward." The post-office will send the letter to the new address, since your addressee has most probably left the post-office his new address with a request to forward his mail.
In English-speaking countries letters are addressed in the following order: a) the name of the person to whom the letter is being sent; b) the number of the house and the name of the street; c) the name of the city (town, village); d) the country.
And now a few words about telegrams. There are three types of telegram service in our country: ordinary, urgent, express.
The services differ from country to country. In the United States, for instance, you’ll find Night Letter and Day Letter telegraph messages. The Night Letter (NLT) is a telegram sent when the wires are least busy. There is a reduced charge, (discount) for this form of service. The Day Letter is sent off almost immediately and must be delivered the same day it is sent.
One more important part of the communication system is telephone. The operation of telephoning is very simple. You look up the necessary number in the telephone directory (telephone book, phone book), then you take up the receiver and wait for the signal (buzz, buzzing sound). Next you make the necessary turns of the dial, according to the number required, and you will know at once whether the line is clear or engaged (Am. busy) from the buzz given automatically. If you hear a prolonged buzzing, hold the wire and your number will answer in a moment. A frequent high tone buzzing means that the line is engaged. In this case you must put down the receiver (hang up) and wait for a couple of minutes.
The techniques of telephoning is very much the same in all countries. Only remember your good telephone manners:
1) When talking on the telephone - speak clearly. Do not shout and take your cigarette out of your mouth.
2) Make sure that your conversation with a busy person is as brief as possible.
3) When calling a friend who does not recognize your voice don’t play: "Guess who?" Announce yourself promptly.
4) When you get a wrong number don’t ask: "What number is this?" It is a good manner to ask: "Is this two-three-four-five-six?" If not apologize.
5) If a wrong number call comes through, don’t lose your temper. Simply say: "Sorry, wrong number", - and hang up. Don’t bang the receiver.
6) Always identify yourself when making a call, especially if you are calling on business, e.g. "This is Mr. Volkov of the Russian Trade Mission. Could I speak to Mr. Jones...?"
7) If you have a visitor, do not carry a long chat where your visitor tries hard to avoid listening to your conversation. The best thing to do is to say you are busy at the moment and ... "May I call you back in a little while?" But don’t forget to do so.
8) When inviting friends to a party do not ask: "What are you doing Saturday night?" or "Will you be busy on Saturday night?" The correct way is to say: "We’d like to have you over for dinner on Saturday."
9) Finally, remember: if you make the call, you should terminate it yourself. Do not "Drag it out".