Monday, October 27, 2008

We Make Bureaucracy: 1

Many would think I have the ideal job. What do I do? Talk with developers about the company Web site of which I am the primary guardian, and respond to an occasional email from someone in the office who wishes reassurance that their needs are being met.

Few know of my actual existence. But why should they, when I am hidden in a closet at the edge of the telephone information center where seven days a week, men and women raise their telephone headsets to advise customers how to travel from Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, or even San Francisco to some other destination, providing instructions about where to catch a particular bus, or transfer, and how much money it will cost.

The TIC, for that’s what it’s called, plays an important role for riders who are on the streets and haven’t yet learned to download schedules to their PDA devices either because they don’t have one or because they can’t find that link on the home page, or simply need the reassurance of a live person’s voice who can successfully advise them on lost and found items and where to go to pick up a purse, a laptop, a beloved hat.

“Sir, where are you? There are lots of bus stops in Oakland.”

In the meantime, I sit in the closet which is about 10 feet wide and 12 feet long but nicely appointed with oak-stained office furniture that I imagine as recompense for shutting me up in here, while outside are the voices of people who welcome each other in the morning and wish each other a good evening at night, and advise each other of food that is available in the kitchen.

For while employees of the TIC have sworn off highly caloric fried and salty taste treats as a diabetic’s worst nightmare, every so often, a gooey chocolate cake makes an appearance. Whenever it does, I get a slice.

The real reason I am shut away in an isolation booth is a vestige of the last turf battle between certain departments who are now regrouping for another possible skirmish, which honestly might throw me back on the floor in front of a window. Not a totally bad thing.

It's not that I'm locked inside my office, which I've decorated with post-its , and a plush teddy bear sitting on my desk with a red and white hat from last Christmas. I can easily come and go. But apart from a virtual team that resides in Atlanta, Georgia, I don't have a reason to work with anyone here on a daily basis. So what am I kvetching about? Bureaucracy. What else do I have to do?

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