Well, I’ve just spent a couple of days in our National Capital… the home of the bureaucrats who interpret and implement, in their own mysterious fashion, the policies of the government.
And it seems that the bureaucratic approach and pervades all levels of local society.
For example, a colleague and I had lunch at a cafe in Civic, the heart of downtown Canberra (and original shopping centre before Canberra spread).
It was nothing pretentious… not that it had anything to be pretentious about!
A glass of wine and a plate of calamari was the order of the day.
When the bill came we decided to split it and each handed the waiter our credit cards.
And they didn’t want our money! Yep, that’s right!
Forgetting rule #1… take the money, we were blithely informed that “We don’t split bills”!
“Why?” we asked.
The cash register won’t take it was the reason given.
Well we want this bill split down the middle and paid on our cards, despite the bureaucratic rules of the cash register, we repeated.
“You can’t have that, it’s the manager’s rule” they said.
Obviously a moonlighting bureaucrat.
“Tough” we said “Just do it” not even adding our colorful thoughts about the management.
“We can’t coz of this sign* that says it’s policy” they trumpeted victoriously, looking smug and comfortable.
(* The sign was tiny, written in an eye straining, small font stuck to the cash register behind a vase of flowers in an area you don’t see on entry.)
The discussion continued with me outlining their obligations under trade practice and consumer protection legislation.
All to no avail.
We used my credit card and settled the bill.
My colleague grinned, “My turn next time” he said with a ‘just saved my money smile’ knowing there wouldn’t be a next time.
And so it ended… with the wrong result for the wrong people.
But the bureaucrats were happy… their work was done.
And a benign peace reigns in Canberra.