Sunday, October 27, 2019

Adventures in Bureaucracy

In life, I’m generally a rule-follower, not out of any deep sense of moral principle, but more out of the desire to take the path of least resistance. It takes energy to be a chronic scofflaw, and I’d rather expend my reserves on other things. However, in my dotage, I am losing more and more patience with annoying bureaucratic hoop-jumping and clunky, overly-complicated processes that slow down the implementation of my agenda. My actual place of work is a relatively small campus, but it’s part of an extremely large and complex regional system, and out of necessity, most of us who work there have become geniuses at the subtle art of the “work-around.” I don’t want to go into too much detail because I don’t want to give away my game, but I’ve gotten pretty adroit at…let’s just say circumventing certain things. Not breaking any rules, mind you, just creatively making things move a little more efficiently.

However, I recently learned to my hair-pulling frustration that there is no circumventing when it comes to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Believe me, I tried: It was time to renew my driver’s license, so I went resentfully online, signed up for an account that necessitated an absurdly complicated password, and filled out their numerous forms, only to be told at the very end that I was “ineligible” to renew online and had to do it person. This was hurtful, but I figured a few phone calls would straighten things out. It turns out, there is no such thing as phone calls to the Department of Motor Vehicles. After several hours of obsessively trying to find a workaround, I gave up and realized that I was going to have to kill a morning busing downtown and standing in line like a chump for God knows how many hours to take care of this task.

I whipped off a whingy text to Mr. Typist about my impending ordeal, and he offered to come with me and share in my misery, which I immediately took him up on. The next morning we trundled off at the appointed time, me barely keeping my seething resentment in check at this outrageous interruption to my morning routine. When we arrived at 9:00 a.m., there was already a line forming, but the doors hadn’t opened yet. I checked the hours on the door, which indicated that the opening time was 9:30, even though the website had clearly said 9:00 a.m. I was incensed. Mr. Typist thought it would be prudent to just wait in line outside, but I was having none of that. I hotly told him that I was not going to stand in line in the rain like this was Soviet Russia and be controlled by the state like some puppet on a string and I was going to go get a cup of coffee and come back, because that would show them. He shrugged and we trudged off to a coffee shop, only to find a very long line there, too. I waited in line so long for the coffee that by the time I got it, it was almost 9:30. I took two sips, left the cup on the table, and stalked out, prompting Mr. Typist to ask how much the coffee cost. “It cost whatever coffee costs now,” I snapped.

We got back to the building just as the doors were opening. I was placed in the “express line”, which made me feel a little better. When I got up to the counter, the guy was cheerful and efficient. He asked me if I still wanted to be an organ donor, and when I told him yes, he instantly whipped out a laminated sheet of paper that pictured a pipe organ and said, “This is the only kind of organ we accept.” I couldn’t help it, I laughed pretty hard. He was so committed to his his joke that he actually laminated it. I like that in a person. By the time our interaction was over and I left, I was feeling quite uplifted. Here’s a person with a dull, process-oriented job who has to deal with crabs like me all day, and yet he managed to remain chipper and inject a little levity into our interaction. It gave me a glimmer of hope.

On the way home, I apologized to Mr. Typist for being such a grouch, (except I didn’t use the word “grouch.”) He took my hand and told me that it was okay, because he had a great morning since he got to spend it with me. Forget couples counseling--it is these such moments that sustain a marriage. I can’t believe I managed to squeeze an entire post out of a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles, but there you have it. My apologies.

My most recent go-to Spotify channel for gym listening is called “80’s Anthems,” so here is sexy as hell Billy Idol, Billy Idoling it up in the most 80’s way possible. The hair alone is glorious. (And no, I still can’t do a pull-up but I can hang from the bars and get a slight crook in my elbows for half a second now.)

--Kristen McHenry


Dale said...

:-) Yay Mr Typist!

One thing I've found useful, working on my pull-ups, is starting at the top (by standing on a stool or something) and lowering myself down, as slowly as I can manage. Same muscles, and eccentric contraction (honestly, that's what they call it -- tension on the muscle while lengthening) which spurs more breakdown, and hence more growth, than plain ol' contraction that shortens the muscle. You want to give it at least a couple days' rest between each time, though.

I do 3 sets of 12 these days, doing as many real ones as I can and then finishing out the twelve with start-at-the-top cheats. said...

This post is delightfully fun to read, Kristen. Your humor is always tops. And your vocabulary rivals that of Mr. Thomas Wolfe!

Kristen McHenry said...

Thank you, Patrick! :) Dale, thank you for the pull-up tips. A very long time ago, I used to be a massage therapist (not that it's helping me be any less clumsy at the gym) so I am dimly familiar with the term "eccentric" when it comes to muscle...that, and the fact that I now watch body-building videos with embarrassing frequency. Your technique sounds very solid and is aligned with some of the better videos I've watched how to get your first pull-up. One day I shall achieve it!