Burro Crazy home > backlash

Perhaps the spaniards know something

Bureaucracy. What is it like? Apart from being a tricky-to-spell word, it also seems to be hard to understand. If my fantasy language analysis proved correct (and I have just made this crap up) it would translate as Mad as a donkey from Spanish - burro = donkey and cracy = crazy. However, since it does not linguistically mean Mad as a donkey, why does it practically mean it?

I can only demonstrate the absurdity of bureaucracy by example. Two recent events spring to mind:

The Work Dishwasher

A dishwasher, which we don't need, started providing electric shocks to people who happened to touch both its interior and the sink at the same time. Since both metal surfaces should have been at zero volts and since the jolt, though stronger than coffee, was undesirable, we called a plumber, an electrician, and the Bosch engineer. All three of these denied the existance of any detectable cause of the problem, which was I believe was caused by a dodgy extension lead that nobody has bothered to test exhaustively.

The Bosch engineer did, however, point out that the warranty of his dishwasher would be voided by the use of the machine with an extension lead. His suggestion: sever the wire and hard-wire a longer length of cable to it. Hello? We have to do some home-wiring and that is better than buying a professionally made extension? A home-wired plug, on the end of a joined power cable is better than moulded plugs? (the one we'd remove and the ones on a high-quality extension). No ****ing chance!

So, to beat the system, I've requested that we call the electrician out again. He can put a mains outlet nearer the dishwasher! One Gordian knot duly cut.

The Bank and the Cards

My partner is a lovely lady. She's currently working very hard on a postgraduate degree course. She will, ultimately, achieve many things as the lawyer she's studying to become. However, the rules at the bank, to whom she owes the value of her graduate loan (so she cannot ditch them), have been a greater obstacle to her than her university exams.

It seems that the branch, which is a student oriented branch, would rather she picked up her replacement cash and credit cards in person, rather than receive them through the post. She has questioned their motives for this decision and it seems that this is a safeguard to avoid unsigned credit cards being nabbed at houses of multiple occupancy, in which students often live. Today, she decided to complain again, both about the fact she is being treated as a child and about the tone of a reminder note that arrived to inform her that she'd ignored a notification to pick up a replacement card - a notification she did not receive.

The dialogue between my dear lady and the bank clerk went something like this:

Why do I have to receive my cards at the branch? I've had cards for the past seven years and you are the only people who won't sent them to my home.
We have to send them to your home because you're a student and you must, therefore, be living in a student house.
I am a student, but I'm living in a private house, which I own with my partner - I am a postgraduate student, you know.
You have to appreciate that we cannot verify that you're living in your own house.
OK [she did not bother to point out that she did not appreciate it and that they were, effectively, calling her a liar] but I'll be a graduate in a few months - no longer a student, will you be able to send my card to my home then?
Of course, provided that you change address.
Change address? you mean I have to move?
But that's ludicrous, I own the house I'm living in - surely I don't have to move...!?

Frieze's Final Thought

You can guess how the bank thing and dishwasher thing would have gone on if the point had been pushed. The men would probably have cast eyes skywards and pointed out that they didn't make the rules and maybe even something about the value of their jobs... Why don't people think? If a system is not working in a particular instance, then maybe the system is wrong. If a workaround is more ludicrous than the problem, either don't suggest it or expect to receive the sharp end of someone's tongue.

02 May 2001
Ashley Frieze