Why I Fail to Thrive in a Bureaucracy

I have never been one to suffer fools gladly. I suppose that actually sums it up. I could stop this blog entry right here. And it’s not the first time I’ve addressed this subject. See also my entry entitled How to Give HORRIBLE Customer Service. So I don’t suppose I really need to go there again. And yet, here I am. It’s only fair, though, because there are days when you just can’t avoid bureaucracies no matter how desperately you try.

Like the time I was applying for college and they asked me to provide my transcripts from Surrey Community College. I called them and said I never went to Surrey Community College. In fact, I’d never even HEARD of Surrey Community College. And they then told me that I would have to get a letter from them proving that I’d never been there. Thank heavens they cooperated, because they could have very easily laughed at me. So somewhere in some folder at Indian River State College is a letter that says that I, in fact, have never attended Surrey. It made me want to transfer to Surrey, frankly. Stupidity like that makes me want to tear my hair (or someone else’s) out by the roots.

Believe it or not, I once was a bureaucrat. I was an eligibility specialist for the State of Florida’s Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Over the years I saw, time and time again, someone come up with a form to make our lives easier, and in no time it would turn into a MANDATORY form that made our lives much, much harder. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve had to say, “I know it’s stupid that you have to have this form filled out before you can get benefits. I know this form has absolutely nothing to do with your situation. But you have to have this form filled out before you can get benefits.” The inmates truly run the asylums. I only lasted 4 years in that job, and it nearly sucked the life out of me. The best thing I’ve ever done was quit.

When you do not allow your employees to exercise any form of independent judgment or common sense, you create the world’s most illogical monster. Anyone who deals with AT&T or the federal government knows this. And the people who are willing to stand up and point out that policies are idiotic, or, essentially, that the emperor wears no clothes, are the very people who are labeled as troublemakers and are generally hounded out of the organization. It’s a shame, because those are clearly the very employees who care, and therefore the ones that are most needed.

bureaucrat

(photocredit: positivesharing.com)

I guess I’m ranting because today I had to get up 4 hours early to drive 15 miles across town and take an annual test to prove that I am a competent bridgetender. Never mind the fact that I’ve been on the job for 12 years, and if I didn’t know what I was doing by now, there would be a lot of boat wreckage at the bottom of the river. Never mind the fact that a lot of the questions on the test had nothing to do with my ability to competently perform my duties, and yet if I get less than 90 percent right, I could lose my job. Never mind the fact that this is the only district in the entire state of Florida that requires that bridgetenders take such a test. So why am I having to take this test? Two reasons. Because it’s mentioned vaguely in our contract, and because the Florida Department of Transportation Drawbridge Supervisor guy has “Give bridgetenders a test every year in February” on his evaluation form, and if he doesn’t meet all the criteria on his evaluation, he loses his chance of getting a raise. (And yet we only get raises once every 6 years, of less than 10 percent.) So that’s why I woke up 4 hours early today.

I’m trying not to scream.

9 thoughts on “Why I Fail to Thrive in a Bureaucracy

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