Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Adventures in Bureaucracy

A discussion over at Vox's yesterday prompted me to look at my experience at the Metro Clerk's Office in a new way.

The debate is over the trend of women's obtaining advanced degrees but stating that they choose to leave the workforce when they have a family. Fatmammycat said that they would get bored with toddlers. Several parents chimed in, wondering how one could get bored with toddlers, given their energy levels.

Then it was said that women get educations to contribute to society. Spacebunny said that pushing paper is not contributing to society.

Flash forward to my afternoon spent at the Clerk's Office. I was there to pick up the tag for my brother's car. He's still in Iraq, and the tag wasn't available before he left. Since I have power of attorney, that leaves me to go get it. Off I go.

48 minutes later, I get to leave with the tag.

I stood there for 40 of 48 minutes at this woman's desk. She was very nice and tried to be helpful. We can't help it that the bureaucratic MESS currently in place is idiotic, stupid, and inefficent and that the agency probably lost money on this transaction anyway.

First we have to make sure he's on the list. Then she has to put him into the database. Then she says, "You don't happen to have a copy of his orders, do you?"

"What? Nowhere in any of this has anyone ever mentioned I would need a copy of his orders. I have them, but they are at home."

"Well, let me do this..." So she called another office. They faxed over a copy of his orders........20 minutes later.

Also, on her trash can, she had written her name. There was a note tacked on the wall near the trash can that said, "Dear ---, That trash can is state property. My tax dollars paid for that trash can. You shouldn't write your name on government property. Sincerely, Robert the Perfect." Or something like that.

So...back to this discussion at Vox's. There were probably 15 or so women in that Clerk's Office. Most of them probably have college degrees. I bet when they finished school, they didn't dream they would wind up in an city office literally shoving paper from one pile to another. Staple. File. Collate. Staple. File. Repeat. These women are certainly not changing the world.

College education leading to a better job is a farce. (This is coming from a woman who has a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration. You can bet my statements like that went over REAL well in class).

Were there skills that I learned in college? Yes. (nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills) And I met Elena there. Certainly the most worthwhile thing I did. But none of the jobs I've had since graduating with my undergraduate degree absolutely needed the skills I learned in college. I became a better employee through experience.