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Trivial Nonsense

Entry 1375, on 2012-04-02 at 15:25:34 (Rating 4, Comments)

There's a lot of trivial nonsense and wasted effort put into many activities in the modern world. A large proportion of the people in our society don't contribute much to its overall progress, in fact many of them make a negative contribution by actively inhibiting the efforts of more productive individuals.

Some jobs seem to exist for the purpose of getting things done and others seem to be more geared towards stopping things from happening. Of course, my old favourite bureaucrats, especially managers, would be the first in the firing line for this criticism.

I don't usually take too much notice of anecdotes because they can be misleading and not represent the big picture. Anyone can carefully choose individual cases to prove any point of view and one of my favourite skeptical quotes is "the plural of anecdote is not data".

But there is one type of anecdote that I find more compelling, that is the one that I recount myself! Yes I know I'm being hypocritical here but who cares? If I label this blog entry with the keyword "rant" I can get away with anything, right?

So here are some of my (true) anecdotes of stupid trivial nonsense from bureaucrats. By the way, I'm going to use a character "Fred" as the victim of these incidents. I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether these incidents represent something that happened to me or someone else.

A few years ago Fred saw that an auditor was checking the department he worked in for accounting irregularities. The auditor spent a lot of time carefully looking through the documentation he was given. Everyone knew that there were many suspect actions that the staff used to bypass the idiotic rules that managers imposed on them and it would be entertaining to see if the auditor noticed anything.

By the end of the lengthy process, which presumably cost Fred's place of work a small fortune, the auditor recommended that they stop providing free perked coffee for the staff. So the staff had to visit a cafe and buy their own coffee which saved their department some cash but instead of working through their coffee break and drinking their coffee at their desk the workers disappeared for 15 minutes.

The director approved fully of the recommended change but it must have cost them tens of thousands of dollars a year in lost productivity. What unbelievable stupidity!

Anecdote the second is this: Fred worked part time and was often exploited because of his status by being forced into doing extra work without being paid and having his hours reduced unnecessarily. It turned out that some of the dirty tricks the management used were against his employment agreement. So the employer had to refund some of the hours that were taken from him.

Unfortunately the bureaucrats in charge of pay gave Fred a little bit more than he was entitled to. By a little bit I mean $2.02. So they started a series of letters to Fred demanding he repay the extra amount as quickly as possible. Fred was told to ignore the first letter but that was just followed by another. As the process continued it became obvious that the bureaucrats were wasting the small amount they hoped to regain many times over in trying to recover it.

But presumably no one considered the possibility of just ignoring the whole issue because that's not the way these brainless morons work. Thinking and application of common sense is not a part of their job, obviously.

Here's anecdote three: the managers at the organisation Fred worked for decided they had to follow the "best practice" that their profession demanded. As soon as we hear the term "best practice" we know some pure idiocy is on the horizon though don't we? Best practice is just an excuse not to think and to avoid blame for failures. After all, if you followed best practice and still failed how can you be blamed?

Anyway the particular objective of this bit of time wasting was to produce a mission statement of some sort, or maybe it was a set of objectives, or something intended to motivate the staff, who knows because no one took any notice of it apart from laughing at it anyway!

The mission statement took the form of an inspiring word. I won't say what it was because that might identify the perpetrators and then Fred might face some sort of half-assed disciplinary action. Each letter in the word stood for a principal the organisation (well actually the bureaucrats) held as important.

It was all embarrassingly pathetic. It really did look like the sort of thing a teacher would put together with the help of a bunch 8 year olds. Of course, to heighten the embarrassment it was displayed prominently in a public area of the organisation's offices.

It's bad enough that such an insult to any normal person's professional standards should exist but it's much worse when you think about how much the morons who wrote it were paid for the time spent on it. Most professional staff are self motivated and know how to do their job well. Having puerile nonsense like mission statements to tell them they need "heroism" or "integrity" is just pathetic.

Finally here's anecdote 4: Fred drives to and from work and many other places and although he has been known to accidentally reverse into other cars on rare occasions he is a decent driver. He often sees other people doing stupid things though, like driving much too fast for the conditions, not giving way, and almost causing accidents.

Fred does have a habit of driving a bit faster than the speed limit sometimes but only when the traffic density is low and there are no other factors leading to possible hazards.

But when he is pulled over by the police for doing a few ks over the speed limit his explanations of his behavior are ignored. When he asks the police why they aren't out stopping genuinely dangerous drivers instead of persecuting someone for doing a small amount over the speed limit his argument is not taken seriously.

The police just launch into some self evident commentary regarding how the faster you go the more damage is likely to occur. Well duh. I think we all know enough basic physics regarding the energy involved in collisions at different velocities to understand that!

So those are some of Fred's experiences. I'm sure that everyone can think of similar situations they have been involved in themselves. Something is wrong with our society where self-important dimwits have control over reasonable intelligent people like Fred. It's just not right but the only people who can really dismantle this sick system are themselves bureaucrats so what's the chance of that happening?

About the same chance as the average bureaucrat using his brain: zero!

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Comment 1 (3007) by Rob on 2012-04-08 at 10:52:14:

Hey Fred,

I do like the quote "data is not the plural of anecdote". I'll have to try to work that one in a conversation sometime. BTW, slow down unless you drive something worthy of speed. You didn't really think a traffic cop would listen to logic or reason did you?

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Comment 2 (3009) by OJB on 2012-04-09 at 12:29:31:

I talked to Fred and he asked me to thank you for indicating your appreciation for the quote. It's one of his favourites too. Regarding the slowing down, he told me recently he got a speeding ticket and then later drove at 200 kph on the same day. He's crazy!

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