Julia McLean is fed up with bureaucracy and she’s not going to take it anymore. She hopes not anyway. She really does.
If I were to set up a website, I’ll call it www.gov.@hellandback.ugh. You have as much chance writing to this site as trying to get things done on line as I tried to do recently when I visited gov-helplines/form-filling-bumph-Canada, which only works for people resident in Canada.
I, however, have lived in France for nigh on 30 years. I always thought France’s civil servants took the biscuit (or petit fours as they say) being neither civil nor servants as I was wont to point out. The problem was that De Gaulle had persuaded the French that this was a true earthly paradise, so for the first 20 years I lived here, most French people never went outside France, being firmly persuaded by government propaganda that France was IT.
Nowhere in the world could you eat as well as in France, and there was no point in going elsewhere when you could surf and ski in France to your heart’s content. Even crap French wine (and there was a lot of that) was better than anything produced elsewhere in the world. French fashion was to die for. French music (re: Johnny Hallyday — aged French rock star) was better than the Beatles and so on.
The result of this was ATTITUDE on the part of all government employees: shortness as opposed to brevity on the phone; never giving their names so they could not be blamed for later cock-ups and a haranguing, bullying manner.
“Why didn’t you bring form no. 123?”
“Well, sorry but the lady who was here last week didn’t tell me.”
“The one with the pony tail.”
“There isn’t anyone here like that”
So the next week you take in the form and nobody knows why you have brought it. In addition, the charmer you spoke to last time has buried your forms at the bottom of the pile so they won’t get dealt with for another month.
Because both the electricity company and all service companies were State controlled, the communication lines were forever obscured. If you didn’t do it their way, you were cut off. Talk about petty bureaucrats in all senses of the word!
You may well be wondering where all this bile has welled up from — it’s from deep down, let me tell you. I have been struggling for a year to get a French pensions company to deliver me a pension. Although not a state company, they still require all sorts of justifications from us. I need a Canadian birth certificate for my husband issued within the last three months (I have one issued in 1988 but that won’t do).
I challenge you to fill out the online form without an old birth certificate on hand, because the detail needed — which hospital was he born in and what was the name and address of the doctor who delivered him — is from a knitting pattern. We were asked his weight at birth – that doesn’t appear on the previous form so we had no idea. Who in God’s government does know? In addition, we were asked to provide a Canadian Guarantor employed as a “simple servant”, or a professional such as a dentist. What makes a dentist so reliable? Aren’t these the guys who are always in the newspapers for pulling teeth and filling unnecessarily? HO! Really upright citizens.
We do have a Canadian friend in France who has known us for a few years. He worked in the Canadian embassy but is now retired. He supervised the setting up of the Canadian military cemetery on the Normandy coast, so obviously he wasn’t reliable, not being a dentist.
If you have a problem, click on CONTACT US and spend a few feverish minutes trying to find the answer to your question. Click on NEXT , fill in that page and then find you have another problem which sends you back to investigate the lists again. I just wanted an answer. Could I use my local solicitor to vouch for me? Going through government CONTACT US systems took 10 days. The answer came back with a smaller typed version of the FAQs plus “yes” at the bottom of the page.
The insurance company also needs a Canadian marriage certificate annotated to show that my husband has not been married before so that if he pops off I get the loot. I trolled through the pages but couldn’t find that type of certificate. All French certificates are kept in the local mayor’s office so that when you are married you are given a Livret de Famille which shows your parents and his parents and then through the years your children’s births. A copy of this can be delivered by the mayor or he could write you an affidavit. Fine. But the French insurance company agents in their blinkered buffoonery do not know or understand that the rest of the world has a different operating system so we are stymied. The beggars (I didn’t spell that right!) get to keep the loot and we could do with more dosh right now, this instant, immediately, ahora, subito, subito, like yesterday. You get my drift.
The phone numbers given on the form are not recognised by the French telecoms system so I haven’t been able to pick up the phone to my MPP or whatshisface, the Premier. They’d find me soon enough if I owed them money and they’d take it out of my account pronto.
What happens to all those old farts who haven’t got a computer or who don’t know how to use it or are illiterate or foreign – and everybody in Canada (except the Inuit and Native people) is foreign and you probably have more old farts than young techies if your demographics are anything like Olde Europe’s.
I’ll stop ranting and raging now. I’ll just wait until Life As A Human posts this and then I’ll email it to all and sundry. Actually, I shall have to post it in a mail box as the government Macintosh operating systems will return it as spam.
“Bureaucrat” by Alexei Talimonov
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