Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Grumpy With Bureaucracy

New Grumpy column out in Tsunami next week. I hope it's funny, but I also got a bit pissed off writing it. This is actually quite a serious rort. It's nonsense that these bureaucracies are not accountable to anyone. I'm a bit fucked off by it all... but you have to try to squint and see the humour.


Me being me, I have just realised that I have lost my passport. I'm leaving the country to go to Boom in Portugal and to maybe check out the party season in Ibiza. Boom will be spectacular, Ibiza... I don't know what to expect. That's if I make it at all, what with the Mystery Of The Vanishing Passport. I have no idea what happened to it. I just assumed it was always in its special passport place. But when I got the little passport wallet thing out and opened it, there was nothing there.

“There's no passport there,” The Dreaded One told me helpfully. I went into frantic mode, because that always helps the situation. I frantically checked the surrounding area. No passport. I frantically widened the search. No passport. I frantically checked the little wallet thing again about 17 times. Nopassportnopassportnopassportnopassport etc. I frantically checked every pocket I owned. I checked every secret stash place I could recall. I checked potential secret stash places that maybe I'd forgotten about. I checked the freezer. I interrogated the cat for hours and didn't come up with a Goddamn thing.

“Maybe you loaned it to someone,” the cat wisecracked as it left the room, chuckling in its smug way. Quite clearly the cat just wasn't getting how important this was. It's a ten day turnaround for a new passport and we leave in eight days. Not good.

I phoned the passport place and spoke to a human. They told me that it was possible to get a two day turnaround, I just have to pay another $78. No problem. This was good news. $78 and my birth certificate and I could have my passport in two days... birth certificate? Who has a birth certificate? I went into frantic mode again.

Long story short: I go to the birth certificate place and the human tells me that everything is peachy and I could have the birth certificate the following day for the standard price of $39 or I could have it right now for $60. I tell her I want it now. She hits print and seconds later hands me the document and I hand her the $60. But what is that all about? If I wait a day and come back and she calls up the file and hits print, I can save myself about 40%. It's only 21 bucks, but that's massive percentage-wise for doing the same thing a day later. Um... rort anyone? Why, exactly, is it cheaper to come back a day later and do the same thing? If I come back two days later do I get my birth certificate for free?

And why does the passport thing take 10 working days at the standard rate but a speedy two for an additional fee? If it can be done in two days, just do 'em all in two days. Call me suspicious but I'll bet there's no queue to jump, no backlog to clear, just a juicy bureaucratic rip off taking place each and every day. Some kind of hangover from the days when paper files had to be manually searched for, copied and posted out days later. People, technology has made it all immediate. All of it.

You bureaucratic humans, you shit me.

Grumpy is Lee Bemrose, freelance writer at twobluefish@bigpond.com With any luck he has left the country before any passport humans have read this column.


Lee said...

Update: I filled out an application form online and printed it out, thinking that it's a smart thing for government departments to let you print forms on your own paper rather than them printing off forests of forms. I took it to the passport office and they told my it was formatted wrong for A4 paper and had clipped off some of the barcode and was useless. So I took home another form, filled it out (carefully) and took it in today. I got an email a few hours later telling me that my passport had been produced and I can pick it up tomorrow. Then I recieved an envelope in the letter box a short while later from the passport humans telling me that my lost passport had been cancelled as per my recent phone call, and they included an application form for a new passport as well as a form to cancel the passport they are telling me had been cancelled... what is wrong with these people?

Guyana-Gyal said...

Man, Lee, consider yourself lucky that things do work where you live. If you wanted a passport here, you'd have to join a long long long longlonglonglonglonglong etc line. Then you find you you need stamps, etc. So you go to buy the stamps etc and join the line at the end again. ETC.