Saturday, September 11, 2010
How to Work For (and live with) a Bureaucracy Without Going Mad
George Fripley’s “You Can't Polish a Turd” (subtitle: “A Civil Servant’s Manual”) kept me laughing all the way through. If you’ve ever worked for a bureaucracy, dealt with one or know someone who has done either, you know how maddening the experience can be. And how maddeningly amusing. I found myself nodding my head and coming up with my own examples throughout the book, as I’m sure you will when you read it.
The secret to dealing with and working for a bureaucracy is to learn the system and to learn how to work with it without losing your mind or your soul. The best thing is to not lose either, but that’s more difficult … and perhaps impossible. But if you want to give it a go, George Fripley’s manual is the book for you to read. And carry your much dog-eared and tattered copy with you every day on your way to and from work so you can consult it.
Be sure to keep a copy of the book by your telephone to consult before, during and after speaking with (or trying to speak with) someone at the bureaucracy you have to deal with. I wish I’d had a copy handy (unfortunately it hadn’t been published yet) when I had to deal with the international department of my credit card company to straighten out my address. Took me two years of talking, writing and tearing my hair before they finally got it right. “May I please speak with a supervisor?” “There isn’t one here.” “Can you locate one?” “We’re unable to do that, sir.” “Why?” “I can’t say, sir.” With a copy of You Can’t Polish a Turd at hand, I’d have saved myself a lot of headaches and my wife’s ears hearing a lot of swearing.
What more can I say? Buy a copy of the book and see for yourself. It’s available both in paperback and Kindle.