Friday, January 23, 2009

Instead of a New Rule, A Well Trod Path

I am going to make an impossible suggestion. Over here, politicians are always keen to tout their newest initiative. I am sure it is not unique, but it seems to have become extreme with some new thing announced every day. It was especially disturbing to me when Gordon Brown campaigned for the position of Prime Minister, after having been Chancellor for 10 years, on the need for a change. And now that we have the credit crunch or whatever you care to call this financial stricture, he is trying to pin the responsibility for it on anyone but the man who had been chancellor while it was hatching.

So today as I was labouring to get my passport renewal application in the mail and came upon yet another stumbling block, I decided that I would not only endorse but would actually adore the politician who said, "I am going to go through the process for each and every thing that my constituents have to do and when I see things that are foolish or awkward or nonsensical, I will fix them. Brilliant, eh? And I think it would be newsworthy because it manifests the kind of common sense that we all cherish.

OK, so here's what I'd like my champion to look at first.

On page 1 of the passport renewal application, it has provision for a non-US address. On page 2, it doesn't.

The instructions for how to fill out the DS 82 come as a pdf. The instructions for photos are not included--the pdf says "link to web site for photo guidelines"). Well, its not a link on a pdf, and when I go back to web site, it is still not a link.

The post office does money orders and they do foreign currency, but they do not do International Money Orders. They used to. They don't know why they don't any more.

My bank can do it, but the teller has to tell me that some of my confidential information might be viewed by someone outwith some organization known only by an acronym. Neither the clerk nor I have any idea what those words mean, but she has to say them and I have to agree to them to get my money order.

The money order has to be mailed to my house--why can't she give it to me? Neither one of us can figure that out either. Now she also has to point out to me that as an extra security measure, my request may be selected for a phone call. Someone from that acroynmous organization may call any time from within two hours of my conversation at the bank until 10am tomorrow morning. And if they cannot reach me by phone, the transaction will be cancelled. In a panic, I give her my cell phone number rather than the home number which we may or may not answer. I make sure my cell phone is turned on and the ringer is turned to LOUD. I am walking around with my cell phone in my pocket and I'll take it to bed tonight in case the person I don't know calls to find out if I am the person they don't know either.

So perhaps in a few days I'll have the money order and can put the last piece of the application together and send it off on a wing and a prayer. Or perhaps I'll be stuck in this loop for a few more days or bounced into another trajectory like one of the steel balls in an old fashioned pinball machine.


At 4:25 AM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

Oh, the tech writer in you is really coming out. Sounds just awful. I read recently that many cancer patients and patients' families were opting not to apply for certain kinds of financial help because when they started to fill out the forms, they found them too daunting. I can well understand this reaction. A private company redesigned the forms and now people can apply much more easily.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, yes, forever, tech writer. And when tech writer meets person who does not like bullies, then you get a real rant!

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Humm.. No not saying it, and yes wouldn’t it be nice to have the forms ask what is needed and nothing more and make them so once filled in is enough, and I didn’t realise that about the Post Office, hum not much fun, and as for phone calls, my Mum had one saying she had won a Caribbean holiday! She just said she didn’t like the Caribbean and put down the phone, I only know because I rang while she was just getting up from the phone! :-)
lol Ruan

At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a well trodden path" would be better English.
Interesting blog.

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Hayden said...

arrrgh! what nonsense the bureaucracies put us through! Makes me gnash my teeth in anger and frustration!

At 9:24 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, Ruan, I love your mom saying she didn't like the Caribbean--what a hoot. I hope to meet her sometime.

At 9:27 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Thanks, anonymous, for advocating for the correct use of past participles. I should not have waxed poetic at their expense! It's interesting that the participle is always used in that expression of the "poor, down trodden masses." Please keep reading and help keep me honest!

At 9:28 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Yeah, I think the proper punishment is to have these folks have to fill out their own forms!


Post a Comment

<< Home