It seemed Orwellian. Unsmiling women, similar age, shape, demeanor. Pushing papers about identical gray desks in a huge room full of identical gray desks. Through the big windows that opened into this space, I felt like I was watching a scene from "1984".
I am here to pay taxes. I stand at the window and look at the three women nearest me who are so fascinated with their paper-moving that they have yet to look up or acknowledge my presence. The unhappiness emitting from these woman is oppressive.
Finally, a woman stands and approaches the counter. I hand her my papers and check, made out for the entire amount due. Then she utters the only words of this entire transaction; "Are you paying for the entire year or half?"
Perhaps she can't read? I bite my tongue to keep from asking "does the total on the check equal half or all the payment?"
I tell her the obvious.
She processes the payment, hands me a receipt and, without cracking a smile, turns and goes back to the safety of her gray desk, resuming the unhappy paper-pushing demeanor.
It really is like something out of a sci-fi movie. Robot-humans doing their jobs. Part of me is sad for them - content to lead such an existence. Most of me is enraged. I just paid this woman's salary for the month and she can't smile, act engaged and say "thank you?"
In a country where the official unemployment rate is 8.6%, and I'd guess that the unofficial rate, including people who are underemployed, is more like two to three times that, THESE WOMEN HAVE JOBS?
This encounter followed a conversation with a doctor's office that went like this:
Me - "Did you get the CD I sent with the CAT scan?"
Overpaid Person (OP) - "No, we didn't get it."
Me - "Really? It should be there."
OP - "Well, it isn't."
Me - "I sent it a week ago and it was just going 35 miles, I can't believe it didn't make it.
OP - "No, it isn't here. Maybe it is in the back and they didn't give it to me."
Me - "sigh….."
LATER - OP - "It is here. It is the same."
Me - "The same? So you found the CD, the doctor looked at it and said it hasn't change? When someone called after receiving the report I was told it was better."
OP - "No, it hasn't changed."
Me - "But, after 3 weeks of antibiotics, when I saw the CAT scan, it looked better than before, and the report said it was better."
OP - "This is what the doctors said. 'The infection is clearing,' so nothing has changed."
Me - "You are telling me it is the same and you are telling me it is better. Which is it?"
OP - "I'll let you talk to someone in the back."
Person Earning Her Salary - "The doctor looked at the CAT scan and the infection is much better than before. You don't need to do anything else unless you begin to have problems down the road."
Sigh………. I hung up the phone, not relieved that the sinus infection was better, but amazed that ding-dongs are still holding down jobs. With the current unemployment rate, this physician could probably get someone with a PhD in communications to answer the phone for him. Someone who can charm the public, or at least give a sensible response to a question. But, no, he's still got Ding Dong dealing with his public.
Maybe its just me, but I tend to think you should treat people with respect and that people dealing with the public should have some common sense and a slice of personality. I'm running into too many people (ouch - mostly women) who seem so miserable or inept, I think the kindest thing would be to relieve them of their current jobs and hire someone who is happy to be working with the public.
Life is short. Too short to either work in a job that makes you miserable or to have someone working for you that is unhappy or a ding-a-ling. And, with so many people actively looking for work I'm amazed with the people actually draw a paycheck!