Going to a government office to get something done is always a big hassle in this country. You are either asked to come the next day or the following week or after their lunch time. And, you keep hopping from one window to another, from one room to the other and from one table to the next. They blithely refuse to help you in desperate times when every passing moment is precious for you and to them; it’s just a tick on the wall clock.
I recently had a brush of such experience in one of the ought-to-be respected government organizations. No sooner I landed in the room of the person I was to get my documents signed with, I was asked to come after an hour for something that would just take 15 minutes of his time. Already on a tight schedule, it seemed totally ludicrous for me to idly wander for an hour for nothing. Considering he was engaged in his task at that moment, I asked if he would attend me when he was finished with the task at hand. He wouldn’t bulge an iota even after I had made several requests.
Known for being testy at times, I put a cork on my tantrum and managed to politely ask if I could sit on the sofa and wait for him to finish his current work. With his consent, I sat down on the dust laden sofa, scrutinizing the room we were in. Surprisingly he beckoned me soon after he was free and I found him, surprisingly again, amiable when we struck up a brief conversation. However his assistant, an old irascible lady hadn’t quite imbibed her boss’s trait as she shrewdly retorted telling, ‘OKAY! Lady! Can you hold your horses now!’, when I pointed out that she had missed one of my documents. In the end, it just took exactly 15 minutes to get all the things done.
I couldn’t help but wonder why the government officials are such sadists. It’s just like they are seeking some unknown vengeance with us, putting us in desperate situations, making us suffer and yet we have no other option but to conform to their sadistic deeds. As I was making an exit out of the dilapidated building, trying to hammer out the reason behind their psyche, I felt may be this is it, their workplace, a dilapidated antediluvian building with its even worse interiors, which is somehow inflicting these negative vibes in them. Even people like us, who work in well-furnished buildings, have our times of frustrations; I didn’t stand on firm ground to carp about them but only could commiserate at their plight.
Most of the government offices as we’ve seen are in an utterly neglected condition, with cobwebs caving in from all the corners of the dusty and damp room with cracked windows and piles of files lying on top of each other, covered with dirt, ironical in this computer driven world. The room that I was in earlier also had cracked walls and in these rising Fahrenheit temperature, there was only one fan serving quite a number of people. Working in such a horrible room, I couldn’t blame the old lady for her curtness. When the policy makers are driving away in imported SUVs and jet black Mercedes, getting paid for doing all the talking and virtually no work at all in rooms fitted with imported AC, it is rather depressing for these officials, who do the actual work, to come to a building in ruins with muddy ground, noisy fans, and one immersed in stench from the toilets. I felt, who in all his sanity can manage to work double-faced in such a condition and I saw their attitude to work and to people as mere way of venting out their frustration, sadly though in a diabolical fashion.
Of course, government offices and officials require a lot of reform, from computerizing the manual tasks to alleviating corruption; I believe the first step should be elevating the working environment by at least cleaning up the dirt and tidying up the rooms and furniture if not a complete renovation. A healthy and clean working environment raises one’s morale and attitude. With an effort towards this direction, we can hope of better and productive government officials, who have become an adjective rather than a noun to connote indolent, lethargic procrastinators.