The Mysteries of Bureaucracy

So I stop into the school’s transportation office to let them know that again this year my kids will be getting on the bus at my house, but off at their mom’s. I explained to the lady why I was there, and she promptly handed me two thick forms and told me I needed to complete a form for each kid, and take them to the office next door. She reminded me that these are 5-copy forms, so I needed to press hard with the pen.

I stared at the forms for a second while my mind tried to reconcile a world that includes so many databases and photocopy machines with one that still manufactures quintuplicate carbon forms. But no matter.

I then asked if it was possible to just write that this was exactly the same as last year and sign the form at the bottom. But I was told that no, I would need to fill out the whole form as all 5 copies were needed. I wondered briefly if last year’s 5 copies had been ground up for use as meatloaf filler for the cafeteria, but the bottom line was that my most expedient path was to just start writing. And I did.

Upon completing the forms and shaking off the nascent writer’s cramp, I proceeded to the next office where I found a helpful lady behind a desk. I said, “Hi”, and handed her the forms. She scanned them quickly and then began leafing through a large computer print-out that was on her desk. She located my two boys, glanced back and forth to the forms a couple of times and asked, “This is the same as last year?”

“Uh huh”

And I see her take her pen and write “same” next to each kid’s name. She thanks me, and as I’m going out the door I see her take the 5-part forms and slip them into the recycle bucket.

The next time someone asks why the quality of public education has gone to hell, I’m going to blame it on the fact that their graduates work there.

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