Thursday, July 19, 2007

A tale of two mollusks

Twice yesterday I was held hostage to someone with a protocol who wanted to follow it at all costs. Including costs like reason, rational thought and sanity (theirs and mine).

The first was at the bank. I went in to find out why they never sent me a new credit card after my old one expired three weeks ago. "Ah," said the woman behind the counter, looking in my file, "It's because you aren't an Australian citizen. We have to see your visa before we can reissue you with a credit card."
"I'm from New Zealand." I explained. "We don't have visas."
She looked flustered. Then she spent twenty minutes on the phone to people all over Australia, finding out that yes, NZers do not require visas, no this does not make us illegal aliens, yes, we are allowed to own credit cards, but no, she is not allowed to override the computer requirement that the visas of all Unaustralian Menaces must be sighted before reissue of their expired cards.

In the end she had to issue me with an entirely new credit card, new number and everything, and will continue having to do this every time my card expires, or until we get a new government who isn't so paranoid about Foreign People having access to money.


Then I got a phone call from HR about the paperwork for my new contract here. They wanted to know why I hadn't filled out and returned the application to join the university's pension scheme that they sent me with all the other paperwork. I explained that I am already a member of the university's pension scheme and have been for two years, since this isn't the first time I have been employed by the university.

"I can give you my membership number," I offered helpfully.
"I'm sorry," the man on the phone replied, "We do require you to fill out that form."
"But it's an application form to join a pension plan I already belong to! And it's six pages long!"
"We won't actually send it off to the pension scheme people, if you are already a member. But we do have to confirm that you returned the completed form before we can process your first paycheck."

Bunch. of. mollusks. That's what I say. Actually, I shouldn't malign the mollusks. An octopus would probably make a perfectly good administrator, what with all those arms, and having his own ink and all. And I bet a squid would have better things to do than insist on pointless protocols. Gah!


Anonymous said...

ah the insanity! i think you should fill out the form as a mollusk would. ie home address: ocean. they didn't say how it has to be filled, right?

Miss M. said...

I know a guy who wrote a paper once (though of course it was never submitted to anything let alone published) likening the physiology of microscopic nematode worms to various beaurocratic institutions. Perhaps a companion piece could be written on the behavioural patterns of mollusks?

Aya said...

Poor you! I used to think that I would live to be 106 like my great grandma or at least reach 90 like my grandmother (still well and kickin' it).

A twice-weekly run-in with mollusks of the sort at your bank and HR dept. leads me to believe that I will be happy if I crack 48. I'm not going down alone, though. I'm taking a whole bunch of office monkeys with me.

EA said...

Mollusks! Well at least with the draft in you've got time for all this... ha, ha, ha... that was a joke... ha, ha... heh... heh... okay, maybe not so funny...

Juggling Frogs said...

This is how rumors get started.

I can see the headlines now:
"Australia overtaken by swarming mollusks..."

Badaunt said...

It's not just Japan? I guess it's a cross-cultural bureaucratic thing. Maybe we have discovered the secret to world peace. You just get a bunch of multinational bureaucrats into one very large room, supply them with computers and forms, and watch them bond. Then the rest of us lock the door, throw away the key, and join in happy celebration.

(Incidentally, I finished the semester without handing in that form! I won!)