RECENTLY I had to go to my neighbourhood Social Security Organization offices to get a certain paper. With my son in my arms, I stepped into the waiting room at 8:30am, fresh-faced and smiling. Within nanoseconds, my jaw dropped and my eyes glazed over as I regarded the massive crowd of people waiting to be served by employees at the four desks.
“Oh the numbers have already run out!” a woman told me in a warm, conspiratorial tone.
“But it’s only eight thirty am!” I exclaimed.
“Oh you need to come here at six am if you want to get one!
“Six am?? But it doesn’t open til eight!”
“Quarter to eight,” she said, “and if you want to get a ticket you need to queue up from six am to do so.
The following day, there I was, me and another 80 or so people, mumbling, sipping coffee, smoking cigarettes, cracking jokes about how advanced our country has become. Some waiting patiently, listening to their music, others already enraged by the experience, others still chatting casually about their endless problems with government bureaucracy. Many of us well aware that after this two-hour — sorry, one hour and three-quarters — wait, we would all be jostling our way into the building, galloping up the stairs and elbowing our way into the waiting room to grab a number and then a seat. Frightful. Uncivilized. Necessary. And that after that, then the real wait would begin, lasting perhaps for up to four hours.
Four hours! What do you do for five hours waiting in some ugly room with a bunch of miserable looking, bored and irritated people? I took my ticket and escaped the bad vibes, bought myself a coffee, reading a book, chatting on the phone, exploring the neighborhood… and coming up with fun ideas – like the one you will hear in this recording that I have created in the style of a luxury hotel advert.
Often enough, there’s nothing like being able to laugh in the face of adversity, and whether you have to deal with spirit-breaking, backward bureaucracy or not, I hope it makes you laugh too.