It occurs to me that some in our populace live by the assumption that their brains – and the reasoning power housed within – were designed for decorative purposes alone. Yes, I know this sounds extreme, but allow me to offer some examples:
Recently, I was at a well-known fast-food establishment and presented the young counter person with my coupon for a free medium-sized value meal. (Yes, I was a game winner, and quite proud of it.) As I was quite thirsty, I asked if I could upsize the order to include a large drink. Of course, being the courteous sort, I offered to pay the difference between the medium and large-sized orders.
She said, “No.”
I thus put forth the hypothesis that with coupon in hand, I would pay nothing for this fine cholesterol-enhanced dining experience, BUT, if I were to receive the larger drink, that her profit-conscious employer would procure roughly a dollar thirty-one from my not-quite-bulging wallet. Despite my infallible logic, she again declined. I then suggested that perhaps I should speak with a higher authority. Surely, the manager would see the light.
“Against policy,” she said in a bit of a huff.
“How could it be against policy for a business to make money where none was to be made?” I asked. “How could it be against policy to make the customer happy by granting a simple request?”
“Against policy,” she repeated with an I-think-I-once-had-kind-of-a-thought expression in her glassy green eyes.
And this was the manager.
Another example: the DMV – land of three-hour lines, weary customers, and excessive expense. No, wait, that’s Disney Land.
Anyway, I bought a car for my daughter. Being law-abiding types, we dutifully took the title, proof of insurance, emissions test paperwork, the deed to our home, a blood sample, my grandmother’s favorite knick-knack, and a soon-to-be-signed check to this bureaucratic utopia. After staring at the car title with a practiced eye, the DMV employee proclaimed that I and the seller of the vehicle had signed on the wrong line.
Thus began a months-long odyssey. We took the title back to the seller; both of us crossed off our initial signatures, initialed them, and then signed in the appropriate spot. Returning to the DMV, I now learned that this was not adequate, that form number blah-blah-blah-dash-blah-blah must be filled out and signed by the seller.
Thanks for telling me this before I drove cross-town to see the guy!
Another trip, another signature, another jaunt to the DMV.
Oh! Now we need blah-blah-blah-blah-dash-dash-blah-dash-blah-blah. Notarized!
Back, forth, back, forth. There was never a dispute as to the authenticity of the signatures nor the intent of either signer. This was simply an exercise in bureaucratic nitpickery.
Another example: the phone company. I politely enquired as to the possibility of changing my regular due date to midmonth where it would better fit my monthly cash flow. Gasp! The horror of it all! This was against policy.
How about the cop who once ticketed me for driving thirty-two in a thirty? (Yes, that really happened.) Any grace? Nope. A law is a law.
Observing this serious cult-like adherence to even the most trivial procedures, I came to the only fair-minded-mildly-logical-not-quite-fanatic conclusion possible. All government and corporate policy must obviously be written by God himself.
It’s the only reasonable hypothesis.
It’s not rational to believe that such drone-like adherence could be inspired by mundane pages, that thoughts penned by other human types no more capable or enlightened than you or I could arouse such verve, such fervor. And recognizing this divine authorship, we can now understand why there should never be even the slightest opportunity for two clear-thinking adults to work together toward a simple, slightly-off-procedure, solution. Policy is sacred, after all.
Therefore, it’s clear that the maximum punishment must be administered for even the slightest act of deviation from established principles. Death by stoning comes to mind. Or perhaps solitary confinement with a 24 hour Teletubbies video feed. Maybe we could ship malcontents to Guantanamo Bay. Starvation! Starvation might bring these non-conformists into the fold. Would water-boarding be over doing it? How about electroshock therapy…?
Copyright 2009 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.
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