Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Government Agencies : The Same The World Over.

Before I begin, quick update on the new kittens.

Momma-cat is fully recovered from childbirth and is actually acting like a mother now, and taking care of the kitten. In fact, maybe taking a little too-good care. The kitten has drank so much of her milk over the past 24 hours, he looks like he’s swallowed a beach-ball.


Well, I went to the Employment Service today, something I was not looking forward to. It’s depressing to go look for a job, surrounded by people who are actually doing my old job. Plus, I was already registered on their website, and look through their job listings regularly. I just didn’t see the point in traveling all the way to Liberty, to do something I can do at home.

Anyway, I figured actually talking to a job counselor might actually help as they might give me a suggestion I hadn’t thought of.

By the way, they didn’t. They just kinda directed me to the computers.

Speaking of computers, it was nice to see that some things are the same the world over. The room was absolutely stuffed with top-of-the-line computers…yet the actual job search engine was an old legacy system.

It was almost identical to the system I used to use for processing unemployment claims in my last job. A system obviously designed to be housed on a mainframe, and accessed by dumb terminals.

It’s this kind of bureaucracy that always drives me mad. The people doing the actual job complain to their superiors that their system is really old, clunky, hard to use and slow. This gets passed up the line, and they simply keep installing new computers. After all, newer computer = better faster system, right?


To the non-computer literate, it’s the equivalent of complaining that the roads are old, full of pot-holes and little more than bumpy dirt tracks, and every time you complain, the DMV gives you a newer and faster car as a ‘solution’. Yeah, you might have a shiny new Lamborghini Diablo in the garage, but when the roads are in such bad shape you can only do 5mph, it’s not going to help you much.

All this reminded me of an incident at my last job.

We had a simple problem. There weren’t enough parking spaces at the building I worked in. The locals were complaining because people who couldn’t get a space were parking in their streets and blocking them in, etc.

Now, like any government service, they were unwilling to actually spend any money, no matter how necessary the expenditure was. For two years, they had weekly meetings, asking for possible solutions. (Some great advice given to us was to ‘arrive earlier when the car park was empty’. Somehow, this would magically reduce the number of cars).

Well, when I knew I was leaving and didn’t have to worry about keeping my job, I sent the following email to our big boss:

Let x equal the number of cars.

Let y equal the number of spaces.

To rectify the problem, we need to arrive at the following equation

y = (OR) > x

Basically y must be equal to or greater than x in order to solve this problem

As of now y < x.

In short, the number of parking spaces is smaller than the number of cars.

Therefore, in order to solve this problem, y must be increased to a quantity equal to or greater than x.

I could have stated this solution much more simply. I could have said “The only way to solve this problem is to increase the number of parking spaces, as it is impossible to reduce the number of cars enough to where there will be enough spaces.” I could also point out that there is a large area of scrubland adjacent to the office building that could be quickly and easily turned into an over-spill parking lot.

However, after two years of meetings, memos and emails asking for suggestions on this problem, and that fact that within these two years you have found it impossible to grasp the solution to this problem, I thought that if I made it sound as complicated as possible, something might get through.

In short, buy the land, or forget about the meetings, because having to talk about this problem every week for two years is driving us all mad. It’s obvious talking about this problem isn’t going to solve it, so can we please drop the charade? We know you’re not going to spend any money, so we’d appreciate it if you’d stop forcing us to waste time in order to pay lip service to us.

Many Thanks


I didn’t actually tell anyone I worked with that I’d sent that email (The idea was, it didn’t matter if I pissed anyone off, I’d be gone by the end of the week anyway. If it got around that anyone else was involved, at the time we were striking over the terrible pay we were getting and they were actively looking for reasons to fire people.)

Unfortunately, I never heard anything about it, so it obviously never got back to the office.

Seems I touched a nerve, and they didn’t have an answer for me.

While the problem remains to this day unsolved, I get a sort of perverse satisfaction that they never replied.

1 comment:

jim said...

hey matey, the car parking problem got worse, they not only didn't find more spaces they also double yellowed everything in a 2 block radius around it, god only knows where all those cars are now (prob in the town centre and people 'bus' in), but hey i'm no longer there so who gives a crap, at least theres no more meetings.