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05/13/2004 Archived Entry: "Desire to smash a bureaucrat"

I TEND TO BE A PEACEABLE PERSON. But one way I've achieved peacefulness is by staying away from things and situations that might trigger my anger. One species of critter I avoid like poisonous vermin is the obnoxious Bureaucrattus Officialis. I've structured my life so I rarely have to deal with petty government bureaucrats. But today I had to go take care of an ordinary little matter I've been putting off for several years -- something most folk do about once a year or so, but that I've managed to avoid until now.

I thought I had all my ducks in a row, all my information structured so that I could breeze through this process with both minimal hassle and more importantly, minimal database invasion of my very private life. Then I got there and found that the state, in its infinite nosiness, had just adopted a new paperwork requirement. Do I need to mention that it's a highly invasive paperwork requirement?

No, I suppose not.

Each time I tried to explain to the clerk (who, in this small town is more than a clerk; she's a one-woman department) that my circumstances didn't fit the paperwork, that I had excellent reasons for not filling in that form, she just shrugged. Or pointed at a couple of check boxes and said, "Those are the only exceptions." "Those are the rules." "I don't make the rules." "The legislature didn't make any provision for that." "You have to do what the form says."

She pulled out every one of the old bureaucratisms except, "I'm only doing my job."

But she wasn't only doing her job. She was clearly, clearly enjoying her power to control other people and clearly amused to see me frustrated and taken aback. The fat stupid broad was smirking at me. And I remembered the years of my life when I wasn't even trying to live below the radar, when encounters with creatures like that were commonplace.

I'm a peaceful person. But I swear, for the first time in years I wanted to smash a person's f-----g face in. I walked out of that building thinking George Haydukian thoughts of payback. I won't smash. I won't seek revenge. Because to do either of those things simply lowers me to that woman's level.

But I swear, I do not know how so many of you deal with creatures like that one on a regular basis. In anything like a free society, she wouldn't be fit to get a job cleaning toilets in an inner-city park. And the control-freaks who decided the world needed that uselessly invasive piece of database entry wouldn't be fit to s--t in those toilets.

FWIW, I didn't fill in the state's little blanks. I'll have to think of a Plan C -- and frankly, it's wearying to have to continuously dodge every new act of petty tyranny cranked out by that perpetual-motion petty tyranny machine, the state. But I did appreciate the reminder of why I need to try even harder to be one of society's ghosts.

Posted by Claire @ 12:43 PM CST

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