Bureaucracy: Exhibit A

JULIE: Can you help me? I’m looking at the published meetings schedule, and it looks like I’ll need to be in two places at once. Is there anyone else in this situation?

ORGANIZER: Um, I don’t think that’s possible.

JULIE: Hmm… can you take a look at this event? I’m involved in that event.


JULIE: And then can you see this event, held at the same time in a different place?


JULIE: I’m involved in that event as well.


JULIE: So I was just wondering if anyone else is running into this, and if any solutions have been created? Or any schedule revisions?

ORGANIZER: Can I put you on hold?


ORGANIZER: Okay, thanks for holding. I’ve been told that the online schedule was actually tentative. A final schedule has been created internally and a hard copy of that is going out to all participants. So everything will make sense when you get your hard copy.

JULIE: Okay, thanks.

[A few days go by. I receive a hard copy in the mail. It is a printout of exactly the schedule that was published online. I get back on the phone.]

JULIE: Hi. Do you remember speaking with me a few days ago about a scheduling conflict? You told me that a hard copy was going out that had resolved the conflicts?

ORGANIZER: No.[Editor’s note: this is a blatant lie, and we spend a silent moment acknowledging that beofre continuing.]

JULIE: Okay… well, you told me that the hard copy being mailed out would resolve schedule conflicts, and actually it’s just a printout of the online schedule. Which contains a conflict for me.


JULIE: So we’re back to my original question of, how do we resolve this?

ORGANIZER: ….. All I can do is make a note of the conflict for you.

JULIE: What happens then?

ORGANIZER: Nothing. Well, you’ll have to contact your colleagues and let them know you have a conflict.

JULIE: Is there anyone else with my same conflict? Maybe we can adjust the schedule?

ORGANIZER: I’ll have to check our records.



JULIE: Can you do that now?



ORGANIZER: But if you’d like me to note your conflict, I can take that information now.

This reminds me of making an online reservation for a swamp tour this past Mardi Gras, and then discovering that the email form I filled out (titled “Reservations”) did not, in fact, create a reservation. The man on the phone corrected me that I had filled out a “reservation request.” He also told me that, since I did not follow up my online “reservation request” with a phone call– during which the actual reservation would have taken place– then no reservation was made. I asked him if this procedure was outlined anywhere and was told tersely that this was “standard Internet purchasing procedure,” as though I was time traveling from 1989 and didn’t know any better. I then asked if he could pull up my “reservation request” and was informed that this information is not saved. In any database. At all. This, you see, is why you need to follow up your online reservation request with a phone call, the man explained to me as though I was very, very stupid. I thought at the time that I would go insane from being the only rational person in the conversation, and I felt much the same way after the above phone call about scheduling.

And on a gross-out note, Addie J picked up someone’s scabby Band-Aid at the water park yesterday. I considered having her arm amputated at the shoulder, just to be safe.


    5 comments to Bureaucracy: Exhibit A

    • Ah bureaucracy. Don’t you understand, Julie, it’s YOUR fault? LOL

    • karen

      Do you remember that Seinfeld episode with the car reservations at the airport? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T2GmGSNvaM&feature=related

    • Jules

      Totally! I was thinking about it during that conversation, in fact!!

    • Jenni

      I was talking with a person from the electric or gas company the other day and after she repeated her ridiculous customer service jargon mumbo jumbo three times exactly the same way, I finally said to her, “I hear the words that you are saying to me, I’ve heard them three times now, but they’re not making any sense. You need to figure out a new way to say this so I’ll understand since I don’t work at your company and have no idea what these terms mean.”
      It didn’t work. She had no idea how to communicate other than the specific script she was given. Soooooo frustrating.

    • Jules

      Annoying. Fortunately for you, you don’t have to deal with it much longer! 🙂

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