Thursday, October 19, 2006

Professional Hoop Jumper

One of the most valuable skills I acquired as an undergraduate is the ability to jump through bureaucratic hoops. Forms to apply for loans. Forms to apply for scholarships. Forms to declare a major. Forms to change a major. Phone calls to an endless array of offices, agencies, administrations, automated systems. Oh, and what's that? You need a notarized copy? In triplicate? Signed by the Pope and Jimmy Hoffa? By tomorrow at 9am? You got it.

At the end of four years, most undergrads are experts at navigating through the hallways and hold times of The Bureaucracy. And I was no exception. But a couple years out of school, I'm woefully out of practice. I don't have as many deadlines. There is no Final Registration. Once I've paid for gas, water, phone and electricity, I'm pretty much set for the month.

Which is to say: I've gotten soft. I'm frightened by bureaucracy. The DMV? Downright horrifying. The latest example of this fear is the case of the stolen passport.

My passport was stolen many, many months ago. I immediately downloaded the appropriate forms for reporting it stolen and re-applying. I filled them out. And then I filed them away, because, ugh visiting the passport office?! What a drag.

Cristóbal kept urging me to take care of it, so I could come visit him in South Amuricka or perhaps we could go to Europe for a few weeks. Lately, Eek has been hatching plans for Springtime trips(!). To Ireland(!). Or somewhere else(!). So she's been on my case, too (for which I'm infinitely grateful; I think I need a kick in the arse on this one).

Fast-forward to this morning, which found me at Charlottesville's main Post Office, filling out the forms (again). When it was my turn, I went into a small office with Lando, the clerk, who was nothing but polite and professional. He proceeded through my documents. "Yep. Mm-hmm. Okay. Yep." And the then, the dreaded and inevitable: "Hm. Houston, we have a problem."

Turns out I needed an official copy of my Birth Certificate, which makes sense. Which means: a hoop! To jump through! My pulse quickened. Sweat beads formed on my forehead. A faint but familiar sense of excitement tingled in my toes.

I raced home and logged onto the interwebs. I clicked through page after page at the Illinois Department of Vital Records. Punched in my credit card number. I faxed in my confirmation. And now, I wait.

But that wasn't enough. I had gotten a taste. That old feeling of Getting Shit Done. I called the local public radio station and made that pledge I had been meaning to make. (Bonus! I get a mug.) I called City Hall to see why our gas didn't work. I emptied my inbox. I drank multiple cups of coffee in an hour. I was on fire.

Why can't someone just pay me to do piddly shit? I mean, seriously. I kind of get a kick out of it.


Blogger jessica said...

Stanley, maybe you can help me. It is that time of year again, when I am failing one of my classes. But! this time the accusition is unfounded and unjust and I will Fight! or be left crying into my hot cocoa. I have to contest the grade with the dean of the department. I plan to use karate kicks.

19/10/06 9:31 PM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

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quite find what I was looking for. I'm looking for
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19/10/06 10:26 PM  
Blogger Stanley said...

jessica: I'm not sure that kicking the dean will necessarily amount to a persuasive argument for non-failure. So, your best advise is probably to follow the advice of askinstoo's comment spam above. You might make it big, even if it is a pernicious, low-down swindle and a nuisance to this blog, its readers, and its authors.

Anyway, good luck; don't kick anyone (trust me); and at least enjoy the cocoa, yeah?

19/10/06 10:57 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Welcome back, undergrad Stan. Oh how I remember.

Also: I'LL pay you to do my piddly shit. I hate it. Everyone wins here!

20/10/06 9:54 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

By the way, you CAN get paid to do someone else's errands--personal assistant! You can pick up their dry cleaning, get their car inspected, download online forms for them, make their appointments, bring them coffee--everything you always dreamed of!

20/10/06 12:27 PM  
Blogger Stanley said...

You're right, Andrea. I was kind of thinking PA, but it'd have to be for someone I really respected and someone who really respected me back (someone like a Sen. Paul Wellstone, PBUH). If I believed in the person I was serving, I would get her the best damn double latté ever and I'd piss myself happy while doing it.

20/10/06 1:31 PM  

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