A Flood of Bureaucracy (part 2)

It was a lovely morning, and the carnage of my patch of succulents was complete, with only one or two hen-and-chickens hunkering down beneath the reach of the iron tines of the rakes. I was sore wroth.

One of the neighbors (not the ex-berry farmer) happened to be out in her vineyard that morning and noticed that it was an official road works truck, little men in orange jump suits. (She’d thought they were clearing the culvert, which they did not, stopping well clear of the clogging weeds and debris it held.) Ten increasingly irate phone calls and many days later, it turns out no, it couldn’t have been an official truck because the county didn’t have a crew there that day, and they don’t wear orange jump suits, and there wasn’t a work order for my area, and anyway “Our guys wouldn’t have done that.”

So I am here to announce that the Martians have landed, and wreaked hideous destruction my patch of succulents. Or maybe Islamic jihadists have decided to strike at the Watsonville roads and thus paralyze the nation.

Ten more cautious and firmly controlled phone calls later, I now have a form (which took me fourteen solid minutes to download on my dial-up connection) requesting a No-Mow Order, with detailed instructions on how to construct marking stakes so the crews will pass by my next attempt at erosion control. My Passover stakes are, appropriately, red-tipped, and are to be lettered with, on the first one:


And on its partner barely fifteen feet away:


Most ridiculous thing I’ve done this month.
Not that bureaucracies necessarily breed inanity. A few years ago when I applied for a permit to build my mother a house behind ours, the form came back approved and ready for posting. Looking more closely, I noticed that some anonymous friend in the planning department had solemnly typed the following into the box labeled “purpose”:

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  1. Kaylene on March 27, 2005 at 4:11 am

    Oh dear. Martians and road construction… What a combination… Hope it all gets sorted out. Good luck; I have a feeling you’ll need it if getting things done out there is anything like trying to get things done here. Did “Sherlock Holmes” ever get the cottage behind your house?

  2. Mags on March 27, 2005 at 11:04 am

    You should, of course, keep some bees by that ‘retirement cottage’.

    I filled a form in last year for work, covering all sorts of FDA questions, and one box asked for the ‘Name of President’. As we’re a UK company, we don’t have one. So in a moment of weakness, I wrote ‘George W Bush’ and sent the form off. As yet, no-one has phoned up to ask if we are taking the piss.

  3. Anonymous on March 28, 2005 at 7:02 am

    Ah, the joys of bureaucracies. A good set of hens-and-chickens is a terrible thing to waste; how irritating. I hope your signs work.
    I need to ask a question about the launch for Locked Rooms and don’t know how to do it politely. That is, can I ask here? (I related very much to Laurie King’s description of her web savy as resembling the dog in the Gary Larson cartoon) I live in (mild) fear of committing some terrible bloggy faux pas! However, I need to book plane tickets (to England, I’m pleased to say) & must be there on June 18. Is it likely the launch will be moved again? Will the attire be vaguely (or very) formal? Love the look of that car. thanks for the patience of all — Meredith T.

  4. the good witch of Mary Tavy on March 31, 2005 at 10:53 am

    Reminds me of the story of Harry Truman’s experience when he was Missouri’s highway supt. When he was in Europe during WWI he was impressed with the tree-lined roads there so he planted seedlings along the Missouri roads. The farmers repeatedly mowed them down until it was finally impressed upon them that those ‘weeds’ would some day be trees.

  5. Anonymous on April 2, 2005 at 10:35 pm

    Glad to know that the government workers are the same in California as they are in New York (Where I was born and raised) and Sweden (Where I am now) I would laugh, but my I don’t need that kid of Karma. 😐 Hope your signs work!!

  6. riobonito on April 3, 2005 at 3:31 am

    Dearie me, my guess, is those men in orange jump suits might have been prisoners on a road work crew, I don’t know, its a thought! That is what they wear in my the county I live in now.

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