Friday, 20 April 2007

Death by Bureaucracy

What a bright and sunny morning. Stark contrast to the heavy rains of last week. But the gloom of exams still hangs over. Short of notes. 5 days to go. Headed over to the Open University first thing in the morning so that i could buy a few books and then head to work.

I get there at 2 minutes to 9. Obviously, the shop was closed. My private sector punctuality was a mismatch to his public sector career. The King of the bookshop entered his court at a quarter past 9. Smart looking chap. I underestimated his insight into his job. See, he manages the bookshop for all the subjects taught at the Open Uni, so there are a bloody lot of books there. So i never expected him to know what I was looking for. But lo and behold, I had to only mention the subjects and he swiftly pulled out what i needed. Maybe government servants were on the ball after all. hmm. He starts writing out what I thought was a receipt.

I pull out my wallet. Count out the cash. He hands me the paper he was scribbling on. Tells me to take it upstairs (which is a bit of a distance away considering his throne was at the back of the building) and pay it at the finance department. Sweet. Maybe I shouldn't have underestimated him cause he was only following orders and he did what he had to do well. But I should've known his department was going to spring this one on me. But I made the mistake of underestimation again.

See, I thought I could stroll into the finance department, pay the thing, come back, get my books and go. How wrong I was.

So I go up to the cashier and surrender the paper. He takes one look at it, gives it back and tells me to get it signed from an office "over there". So i head "over there" and ask the first guy I see who should I get this signed from. He points me over to a table which is surrounded by many eager ladies pulling at goodies that lay on the table as if it were a screaming nugegoda vedor's ware on a saturday afternoon. So this lady seated behind the desk, who was the nugegoda vendor's substitute, quickly puts away a saree and jumps when she sees me there with my paper. She quickly signs it, obviously embarrassed like a nugegoda vendor when caught selling fake goods. Then she points me to another "over there" and tells me to get it signed again by a manager. At this point I'm thinking WHY? So I go to the manager. He pulls out a calculator and checks to see whether the King (remember him?) has got the amount right. He signs it. I heave a sigh of relief. Head over back to the cashier who takes about 15 minutes to write out the actual receipt. Finally I get it and head back to the King who is in the middle of a long chat about the cricket with 3 others in his court. He takes the receipt without looking at how much I had paid, hands me the books, and finally i'm on my way...

Why couldn't he have taken the payment in the first place? Wouldn't that make the whole process alot more productive for both myself and the department?

Bloody red tape...You'll be the death of me.

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