Bureaucracy

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This will be an angry post, one where frustration sometimes is best

relieved by venting! It can be about the fact that it’s quite challenging

to get a hold of an actual human being on the phone! It can be your

own disappointment or disgust at the way businesses seem to give you

the ‘run around!’

I can only hope you will add to this, with your own examples of

“Bureaucracy!”

(There is a reason why there are so many people throw the word, “idiocy”

around! Also, I do know there may be some people who may mention the

dreaded word, “politicians, ” too.)

Tomorrow will be my smiles and chuckles post. . .

 

I would like to start the ball rolling with a look at a small example of how

business in my workplace, at the good ‘ole warehouse, is run.

Last Monday, while about 20 people were lining up to ‘clock in,’  at our

time clock there was an obstacle to walk around to get to the clock. It is a

small ‘vehicle’ or ‘cart’ that has an engine, which the ‘bosses’ scoot around

on.

It would ‘crack you up,’ to see them get on one of these, only to go about 30

paces, to get to another office or to use the rest room.

In each of these cases, no one else is allowed to ‘touch or move them.’

On last Tuesday, at the morning meeting, a fellow coworker mentioned that

whoever is parking their little mode of transportation in the way of the time

clock, was actually ‘breaking a safety rule.’

Then, my friend added, it is unsafe, due to the way people have to ‘clock in’

and then try to get out of the way of the next person in line. ‘There isn’t any

room to do this safely.’

Then, he mentioned that someone ‘almost tripped over it!’

Well, what do you know?!

That darn cart was once again parked in the location directly under

the bins order fillers’ time clock. I wish to note, at this time, I never get

in this long line, no patience for such nonsense. I enter the hallway by

the lockers, ‘clock in’ where there is usually only five people getting

their last sips of coffee, filling their water bottle, or something like this.

It is located by the break room.

No one blocks the break room!

Anyway, at the morning meeting on last Wednesday, one of our immediate

bosses, (one is for heavy bulk fillers and the other regular ‘bins’ order fillers)

made a proud announcement,

“We sent out a memo to whoever is leaving their cart by the time clocks.”

(In this case, he meant an ’email.’ There are no more memos, unless the

boss’ boss prints out an email and checks it for any facts that may not be

disclosed to us, (‘paeans.’) By the way, how many people would have put

an ‘o’ in that? Since everyone says ‘pee-ons’ I struggled with the spelling!

Out of practice!

On last Thursday, the cart was moved, presumably due to the ‘efficiency

and effectiveness’ of the email!

Another minor example of ‘Bureaucracy,’ came in a rather smelly way!

I went away to my Mom’s on June 27th and arrived home on July 6th.

I had a grand time, some challenges but overall, a nice escape from my

everyday life.

When I arrived home, I smelled an odor in the hallway, quickly sped up

to get into my apartment, presumable to be in my old, familiar, cinnamon

and other kinds of homey smells. (I love Yankee Candle Company’s scent

of “Home Sweet Home,” use it in my candles, warmers, and in my car, too.)

Oh my!

It was my apartment that truly stank! Yuck!

I quickly went to the nearly empty fridge, it held only pleasant condiments

and the baking soda box held any of the odors. No spoiled foods, check!

I then ran into the bathroom, and as I got there, I was splashing in the

hallway! The carpet was soaked and yes, it smelled horrific. Like a dead

animal, no none of those in evidence!

I called my apartment manager’s phone number, leaving a message.

I went out into the hall, stopped across the hall. The friendly woman, who

is still nameless, since my good friend, “Bo” and daughter “Amyah” moved

out, I have not attempted to know this one. I miss the grandmother friend

and her granddaughter, too. (I gave her a lot of my Dad’s porcelain light-

houses and other nice things, like a ‘throw’ blanket with the 12 Lake Erie

lighthouses on it.)

The neighbor opened her door, asked me had I been gone long? She had

noticed my absence and admitted to smelling my odor. She also told me

that her air conditioner pipe from the upstairs (floors 2 and 3) had somehow

gotten clogged. The overflow or pressure had leaked into her apartment,

hallway and into her bedroom, too. She said this happened on June 30th,

that the manager had provided a fan to dry it, would be cleaning her carpet

sometime around July 11 or 12th.

I was ‘freaking out!’ That meant he clearly knew others were having this

problem and had not bothered to knock and check around to see if there

were other instances of this. Just while I was talking to her, Pete called.

He lives on the second floor with his wife, Nancy. It is not like he is off

the premises, surely he would have smelled this, since they are supposed

to vacuum the halls and wax the chair rail in the hallway.

I approached this with caution, remembering my Mom’s favorite expression

for handling irksome circumstances:

“You can attract more positive responses with honey than with vinegar.”

(There are variations on this but this is how she would say it.)

I told Pete, that I had come home from vacation and found my apartment

very ripe smelling, think it has to do with the water heater leaking or the

air conditioner pipe. He said he would bring me a fan.

I called my oldest daughter, she came over. I was sure I would have a fit,

if someone would not be there to keep me from over-reacting!

I boiled tea for the two of us, I lit about ten candles around the apartment.

I put a little of my vanilla scented lotion inside my nostrils.

When Pete came down, he knocked and then opened the door. He did not

admit to me that there was any odor. (I miss my old landlord, Ron, he would

have sympathized and also, maybe offered to help find out the root of the

problem.)

Pete said, “I will have to call a maintenance man tomorrow. He is also good

with the electrical stuff. He can check your heater and air conditioner.”

Carrie was walking in, saw my look and asked me to come in the hallway

while Pete set up the fan to blow air into my wet carpet and then he opened

the doorway to the ‘electrical stuff.’

Carrie ‘admonished me:’  “Don’t use your teacher look or your teacher voice,

Mom! But you may ask him if there are any avenues to proceed to, if it were

an ’emergency,’ mention that mold is not healthy for you to sleep in.”

I re-entered my apartment, almost knocking him down. Pete was going to

leave! I had to take a short breath not to let my steam blow!

“What would you do if this happened to yours and Nancy’s apartment?

Would you think there may be a solution that could be chosen tonight?”

 

(Inside my head I was yelling,

“So I won’t have to sleep knowing that there is water with possible mold

or e-coli, lying inch thick in my hallway!!”)

Pete asked me twice in quick succession, had I run my air conditioner

while I was on vacation?

Each time, I answered, “No.”

I am not sure if that would have somehow made it ‘my fault’ that the air

conditioner’s condensation had run into my apartment, but he seemed to be

focused on this point. Now, later, I wonder if I had it so that it would run

while I was gone, would that have somehow alleviated their responsibility?

 

An emergency plumber came that night.

 

I am thankful that he said to Pete, “This place smells disgusting! It would

be hard to sleep with this in the hallway!”

He said to me, “Maybe you could spend the night at your friend’s apartment,”

looking at my 34 year old daughter. (God bless his heart!)”

He also explained how there is a perpendicular pipe, that had filled with

mold, where the condensation from others’ air conditioners siphons down

into this. Normally, going into a drain. I was glad he explained that the

whole thing was ‘not your tenant’s fault’ to Pete.

In this case, as I talked to my coworker the next day who also happens to

live in my apartment building, he feels that Pete should have offered to

pay something towards a motel room. Another coworker says, he would

have insisted on getting the carpet cleaned and suctioning off the water,

too.

I have a good thing to tell you! My carpet did get cleaned on July 1oth,

so I only had to live with the stench for Sunday through Thursday nights.

Another good bureaucratic occurrence is to be announced.

I got a refund from the Cable company!

What? You heard me right!

I called them to tell them I did not get my Time Warner Cable Channel

Guide for the months of June or July! I wondered if I needed to go to

the Post Office and ask for a trace on it? The first woman that I talked to,

used a businesslike tone, saying that they were no longer publishing this

lovely television guide, that was quite a bargain for less than $3. It had

the look of a magazine, with at least ten pages of colored paper, then the

rest of it, in black and white newsprint. I would pore over that, circle and

use two different colors of highlighters, too!

When I did not get a significant explanation nor confirmation of the bill

being changed, since I had sent both June and July payments by this time,

I asked for a manager!

I used a plaintive tone, almost whiny, but was almost beside myself, really

upset about this. I wanted to know if there had been written notice of its

discontinuation? I wished to have an explanation why this happened? I

wondered was I the only person who felt it was well worth paying for this

monthly guide?

The manager was like a psychiatrist, she had a bell-like tone to her voice,

very sympathetic, kind and saying, “Oh, that is too bad!” and then, “Oh,

I can understand how important this was to you!”

I actually got a $30 refund, she felt this was well worth using her power

to use “discretionary funds.”

She was looking at my years of being an “Outstanding customer,” and

telling me she did not want to lose me, that I was “Valuable” to Time

Warner Cable!

I may have to call HER next time something else goes wrong, somehow

she imparts some warmth and love to the whole ‘bureaucracy’ and gives

me hope after all!

Let me know you worst case scenarios with bureaucracy and I will kindly

impart my “Oh, that is too bad’s” to each and every one of you! I have a

good feeling that this post may help you ‘vent’, ‘rant’, and you will feel

much better!!

Fellow bloggers ‘therapy’ begins when I hang my ‘shingle up!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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32 responses »

  1. There’s an old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets oiled.” No shame in being a squeaky wheel. And you have a 34-yr old daughter? Jeez. You look younger than me.

    • Thank you, first of all, for the compliment! I agree, that is a perfect expression to ‘get things done!’ I will try to remember this the next time, instead of the honey and vinegar one! Smiles, Robin

    • Hi, Sherry! I appreciate your sympathy! It is much better now, although, I think I will ‘smell’ it for awhile. I even took a cloth with some Febreze and was wiping all the walls with it, to help whatever leftover odor to finally ‘be gone!’

  2. Now if you could only get the Time Warner Cable woman to take over running your apartment building, you’d be set, Robin! That smell must have been awful. Ew. That’s terrible. So sorry for you!

    • She was a dear one, that TWC lady! I will hope that Pete will remember that I was fairly normal in my approach. I will ‘take that sympathy’ and keep it in my head, for times that may be tougher than odor, in the future, Mark! Your warm friendship helps a lot! It is receding and I continue to try different things to change the way my sense of smell reacts, as I enter the apartment. On a much worse note, my coworker, Don, who lives in a different part of the building, had his toilet back up into his apartment! I know he was harsh with his demands, (he is not an easy-going kind of guy. He got the whole sanitation carpet treatment, but says it is much worse than mine. I live by the mailboxes, so he stopped by after work…

      • The toilet backing up in your apartment is intolerable, Robin. Yours is enough to scream about. Dan’s is enough to blow a gasket. I am like both of you. I’d be waving my arms and making a big scene about that!

      • Oh, he definitely is not the quiet, unassuming type! I have heard him express himself, (complaining about work) before! He will make sure they take care of things over in his hallway and home. I did not go by to check in with him, though. Distancing myself from most of my apartment dwellers, just to be different here. I usually get ‘too friendly’…

  3. Sorry to hear about your apartment. I think we always meet people in life where they don’t want to take the responsibility but I have experience every time that we need to ask and more often than not, we might get the result we want. Take care Robin.

    • Thanks, my dear! You are totally correct! It is best to ask and sometimes we will get the result we want. Better than complaining without any action taken on our part. So wise, my friend! Take care and enjoy your week!

    • It is so true, Chris! I am so glad to see you laughing and not in the least worried, since you knew by now, things were back in ‘sync!’ Smiling back at you!

      • Yes, indeed, Robin —
        one of the things I’ve noted and admired about you from reading your blog for almost a year now, is that you don’t let things get you down for long —
        ……. you spring back better than ever !!!!!! 🙂

        Cheers — it’s almost the weekend !!!!

        C

      • Thanks, Chris, for being here for that long a time! You are one of the ‘oldies and goodies’ that I enjoy having around! Now, don’t be offended about the oldies comment, since I love oldies radio stations and also, old programs and vintage cars, postcards, motorcycles and antiques!

  4. That would have been an annoying situation. It seems to be fixed now from what you said, and that is a relief.
    Yes,I understand the annoyance of trying to get a human being on the telephone. It drives me crazy and I usually just hang up.

    • Thank you so much, you are sweet to say that people on the phone are annoying and they drive you crazy! I got home last night and had one of those long calls ‘put on hold.’ I guess if that is the worst thing that happens for awhile, I can handle it (and the smell…) Smiles, Robin

    • You are absolutely right, Colleen! That man had me smiling from his compliment to his assertiveness over the situation! This is a good place to let it all ‘hang out,’ and if these are the worst things that happen to me, for awhile, I can cope! Nothing can compare to others’ problems…

  5. I could say ‘I feel your pain’ Robin, but that seems inadequate to alleviate your frustration with work and with your apartment. Why do these frustrating events have to accumulate at the same time? That always seems to make things seem worse. I guess the worst part is when someone as gentle and kind as you gets hit with something bad, it seems most unfair. I think you handled your challenges with panache and class, and your rant was a good pressure release. I hope all is better on both the work and the home fronts. – Mike

    • This was very nice of you, Mike to be so understanding. I know you would have made the guy squirm, in my behalf! I am over my upset feelings, just as a ‘good rant’ or letting it all ‘hang out’ makes anyone feel better!
      I think my nails coming through the ceiling at work was much worse than the tripping over the little scooter thing in the way of the time clock! Thanks for your kind words and will be so excited when you are flying home soon! Take care and keep enjoying your scenery in Spain! Smiles, Robin

  6. I used to teach sociology. Part of that was teaching about how organizations operate (or don’t) so I know a lot about bureaucracies. The mere mention of them drives people crazy and most of us deal with them multiple times every day of our lives. When they operate as they are supposed to, nothing beats them for efficiency. The problem is that they rarely run as they are supposed to–as witnessed by your experiences and lots of other peoples’!

    • Why didn’t I pay attention to the teaching Sociology part of your memoir? I am so sorry about this, Lorna! You would be the perfect person to help me rationalize and also, listen to the vent and then explain what worse case scenarios others deal with… I am done with my complaining, for now! I think your knowledge would have been an asset to businesses, but your humor and interesting stories made you a fascinating teacher. I would have tried to ‘side track’ you off the subject matter and into your experiences… Smiles and thanks for the well stated business monologue. I like the use of “efficiency,” “organizations operate” and your explanation of how this should run smoothly, but rarely do!

      • I always told personal stories–funny ones of course–to make the subject matter more interesting, memorable and relatable. I helped students see the concepts operating in my life so they could see them and understand them in their lives. That’s why I loved teaching so much–all those “light bulbs” going on around me. Plus there was always a lot of laughter coming from my classroom! 🙂

        And I could tell you about lots of ways that bureaucracies go wrong. Maybe I could do a blog about that…

      • You were ‘my kind of teacher,’ Lorna! I loved the ones who did this, sometimes didn’t even ‘crack’ a book, but talked about the subjects, opened the class for discussion. This would really work with your subject of sociology! It didn’t work with my middle school Language Arts classes, since we still had to have Spelling, English with its sentence structure and rules! Smiles, Robin

      • Oh, Lorna, go ahead and add your own Bureaucracy blog! You will have a whole different ‘angle’ on the subject! You go, girl!!

  7. What a rotten thing to return to after some time away. I wouldn’t have been so patient, even if I have a hard time being assertive, there are times someone has to be made to make things right. I’m sure you pay your rent on time. Well, it is up to the apartment manager/owner to provide you with a livable place, and in my opinion, should make it so, as quickly as possible.

  8. Yuck! Your man Pete sounds lazy! How awful for you. You need to get to know your neighbor so she can call you if you have a nasty smell while you’re gone again!! As for the other things, oh my! Life is a series of nuisances if you let it be. I know you focus on the positive so much, every once in a while, you have to let rip. 🙂

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