One of the nice things about living in Cyprus is that the locals are - basically - very friendly. They're also pretty relaxed. That can be irritating if you want a workman to do something in a hurry, and have to accept that 'tomorrow' means 'any time in the future that isn't today'. On the other hand, it means that people aren't in a hurry. Frequently if I just want to buy one or two items in a supermarket, people standing in the queue will wave me ahead of them.
Yesterday afternoon around quarter to five, I finally had the last batch of Christmas cards and newsletters ready to post, along with three small parcels, so I walked to the Post Office. Most of the cards - 55 of them - were for the UK. After putting stamps on the parcels and the few non-UK cards, I sat down at the customers' table in the Post Office, where there's one of those little water twirly things for wetting stamps, and got started. There are always at least two stamps on any item in Cyprus: the main one, and a 1c stamp for the refugee fund. Unfortunately the PO had run out of 30c stamps, and also 15c stamps (they never seem to know how many cards will be sent to the UK at this time of year!) so I was given 55 each of 25c and 5c stamps.
Just as I had done about three, the Post Office assistant came round the counter and sat down with me. She has very little English (unlike the main Post Office lady) but smiled at me, and said, 'I help?'
There was nobody else in the Post Office at the time, and I suppose she had nothing else to do, so I smiled and thanked her. She took some of my cards... and managed to wet and stick them about twice the speed I was managing! Nobody else came in, so she stayed until we'd finished, and it took about 15 minutes in all. I thanked her again, profusely, and she smiled and said, 'I not help... you be here tomorrow!'
When I told Tim, he said - a little cynically - that they probably were worried I'd be there for hours, and they wanted to close at 5.30. I prefer to think that this was a friendly gesture across cultural boundaries. Whatever the motivation, I very much appreciated the help.