Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Murphy's Law: What to expect from a government bureaucracy

The saga continues.

Last week we completed Mrs. Leonidas' application for renewal of her expired "permanent" resident card. The forms were meticulously completed with every electronic field filled in and the fee electronically submitted.

Yesterday we received email confirmation that the application had been received by the appropriate bureaucracy with a PDF document completed by the concerned bureaucrat to be proofread. Sure enough, in the field labeled "middle name" where we had carefully inserted NONE due to Mrs Leonidas having none, the bureaucrat had entered the initial "N".

These documents need to be letter perfect in order to avoid rejection or even prosecution for violating an obscure and arcane regulation. We followed the directions for correcting the document; which is telephoning the number of a government office and finally, after 12 minutes on hold and listening to instructions in Spanish after pressing 1 for English a sentient semiliterate humanoid answered the phone.

The ensuing conversation was quite bizarre due to the bureaucrat having only a rudimentary command of the English language. Many common words had to be spelled out phonetically for him. God willing the process will proceed.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yep, i feel for you. And that petty bureaucrat probably thinks it was your fault. If there were any instructions to leave it blank, they were probably buried somewhere.

But fault is not the issue. I was working in a government personnel office and submitted a promotion packet for a deserving employee. A week after the promotion board convened, i got the packet back with a note saying it was missing a document. Yes, i forgot the document.

Well, i got in my car and drove all the way to the capital to find the pencil-necked geek who processed this. I told him that if he had called me, i could have faxed the missing document in five minutes. If he needed the original, i would have got into my car and driven it there.

So this poor guy had to wait three months for promotion because of my simple error and one uncaring numbskull's idea of pushing papers off his desk. To him, it was a packet, not a person. Public servants should EXPECT people to make honest mistakes and yea, even do stupid things sometimes. They are there to HELP correct the problem, not to reject the paperwork. Their job isnt over until you get the document you needed.

I suppose somewhere, None is a common name. But you should have been able to fix the problem with a simple phone call. Better yet, the form should have been more specific.

I think this would be the time to kick someone down a well.