Public Service Stupidity

When possible, it’s best to avoid structures occupied by civil servants. Mainly because the chances of running into a stuper (short, yet again, for an uncommonly stupid person) are high. And secondly, to avoid getting that variety of annoyance that causes tendrils of steam to escape from one’s nostrils and ears.

If you should notice a smartly dressed, indecisive looking woman poised outside the double glass doors of a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office, frozen in mid-step, that’s me. I’m likely in the midst of a heated debate with myself about the merits of stepping inside. It’s not because I don’t want to see Arnold’s jaunty, framed photo, grinning and greeting me upon entry. I like the Terminator/Conan starring as the Governor of California. And it’s not because the picture on my driver’s license resembles a squirrel just before it’s trounced by a car tire. It’s just that I’m bracing myself for a potential encounter with a stuper.

At some point I realize that I must make the best of it and finally enter. I remind myself that at least I won’t have to wait in a line. I always call ahead for an appointment because if one doesn’t take this small action in my state, a day at the DMV could last fourteen hours.

However, although I am regarded enviously by the thirty or so who lacked my foresight in making an appointment, I still wait in a line, consisting of one person: me.

Ten minutes pass while two employees engage in animated conversation. Neither notices me or makes eye contact with anyone on the other side of the borderline. Do they converse about official business? Not unless Martha Stewart’s 2500 square foot chicken coop qualifies as such.

I decide to make my presence known. I clear my throat loudly and receive no attention or even an interruption in their chatter. I then cough distinctly enough to be heard at the beauty parlor next door. Still no reaction. I consider hoisting myself up, onto the service desk, pulling out the bullhorn and announcing my arrival.

Instead, I march past the limit line and up to the desk. Both employees freeze and regard me with determined unfriendliness. They are astonished by my audacity.

“Do you have an appointment?” One of the workers decides to challenge me.

“Yes,” I reply assertively.

“Get in line then.”

And their conversation continues.

Is it because they know we’re at their mercy that they care nothing and think less of actually assisting the person on the other side of the divider? Or is it because they have seen so many stupid persons come through their queues that they’ve grown disillusioned, cold, cynical and unfeeling about being helpful or courteous? We may never know.

The only way to handle such governmental employees is by utilizing your storehouse of enormous patience and tolerance, for your own sake. Plan ahead. Psyche yourself up prior to your interaction or dealings with the civil servant and do not let their stupidity or cynicism get in the way of enjoying your day. Realize the contact is only temporary and fulfills a need or purpose.

If possible, contribute to their conversation. Smile. Laugh at their jokes. Feign interest. Prove that you are a living, thinking, fellow human being. Catch their attention so that they are unable to ignore you and finally have no choice but to break down and provide the assistance that you require. Just because you are purposefully disregarded does not mean you should react accordingly or in a negative fashion .

Take control of the situation in a positive, friendly manner. That way, the employee may actually desire to help. This stance can awaken the inert mind into action, reminding ineffective workers that they are there to provide a service, which when done well, makes everyone content.

Think first, last and always.


9 Responses to “Public Service Stupidity”

  1. M.C. says:

    It’s so hard not to lose patience at the DMV. The people who work there seem to try to make it as hard on the customers as possible.
    Good advice!

  2. Suzie says:

    You are lucky!
    When I went to renew my license, I could hardly understand the worker’s English.

  3. Julianne says:

    Appointments huh? That’s a great feature. We don’t have that luxury here in Tennessee. The best advice I’ve gotten for dealing with the TN DMV: “Go when it’s raining. No one ever goes to the DMV when it rains.” Odd advice but I plan to take it the next time I have the pleasure of walking through those doors.

  4. memo says:

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  5. Keli says:

    In all fairness, the very last time I went to the DMV, I had some very intelligent people help me. Unfortunately, that was once out of about 8 visits.
    Yes, there may be a language problem sometimes.
    Appointments are a new development. Good idea to visit in the rain.
    ¡Gracias por visitar! (That’s the best spanish I can do, thanks to Babel Fish Translation!)

  6. Agnes Mildew says:

    Do you think there is possibly a genetic code for civil servants – that which compels them to do as little work as possible in as rude a manner as possible? Our very own civil servants, those who are supposed to dispose of my fortnightly rubbish collection, are now refusing due to ‘contamination’. What do they expect when the lazy swines will not take filth away for two weeks? Violets and roses? I hate them…with a vengeance!

  7. mikster says:

    Ahhh… so next time you’ll just pull up a chair and join their conversation?


  8. Keli says:

    I think the possibility of a genetic link in very likely – I will add that to my research topics. Thank you.
    I agree two weeks is too long to come out smelling like roses!

  9. andrew says:

    They definitely deal with stupers. Maybe there should be a stuper badge -so that they know who is who-in any case why get into the civil service industry if you don’t like humans-lol!

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