Egerton Chang, Contributor
My wife and I recently decided to keep a sweet sixteen birthday party for our daughter. This would not be a pay party, as all expenses would be borne by us. Bad idea! For the bureaucracy we encountered would have turned off even the most ardent party thrower.
I thought it would be only proper to inform the police, along with our neighbours. So I wrote a letter to the officer in charge, Liguanea Police Station, informing of our plan and indicating that we undertook to turn off the music at 2 a.m.
My wife was told that the letter was "incorrect"; that wasn't the way to apply for permission. I must be an idiot, as I didn't even know that one had to 'apply for permission' to keep a house party. Further, she was told that we should have applied a minimum of one month before the intended date. What a party pooper! Even surprise parties would have to be planned at least a month in advance. Chances are that the surprise could not be kept so for that long.
Yet, we were grateful for being given a 'bly'.
Worse was to come, however. For having been told what form such application should take, typing it and returning to said station, my wife was again told that that was not the way to apply to hold a party.
Only this time, the officer was kind enough to email her the type of letter she should provide. This letter had to include such details as the name of the 'sounds' that would be playing, the number invited and state, "Persons will be detailed to work on the road to prevent the blocking of the roadway and to allow the free flow of traffic, and also to prevent the stealing of motor vehicles."
The next step was to take the letter to the Half-Way Tree Police Station which stamps approval apparently for all such Corporate Area events.
Did I say worse? We were then told of the fee we must pay in order to obtain a permit: $3,500 for a small party and $7,000 for a large one. We weren't told the line of demarcation, but were 'fortunate' to be assessed the lower fee.
So off to the KSAC to pay. This time, she was 'foolish' enough to send her sister to pay. Her sister was told, after waiting for some time, that she could not pay on behalf of my wife. My wife had to use her TRN in person.
Another day wasted.
The following day, my wife paid the $3,500.
We are now told that we must return in five working days to collect the precious permit. Why five? Why return? Why is the receipt not the permit? In fact, why couldn't there be a standard printed form for such application? And why couldn't the fee be paid at any commercial bank? But those are stupid questions from a self-confessed idiot who is foolish enough to want a party for his daughter's 16th birthday.
And it doesn't end there. We are now told to return to the HWT station. with the permit for GOK (God Only Knows) purposes. Seven separate visits for one permit.
What is more disconcerting is that this bureaucracy permeates all sectors, including the private sector.
(For anyone interested, I will email the form of 'acceptable' application to hold a party).
POMPOUS AND UNCOUTH
I recently attended the office of a company involved in the communication/display business to collect a cheque. Now this cheque was due from August last year and having been giving the runaround for so long, I decided that I would be more than reasonable to point out, in writing, that if I didn't get my cheque within a few days more, I would refer the matter to an attorney whose fees would be for their pocket.
Lo and behold, within a couple of hours, a lady called and told me that the cheque was being prepared and I could pick it up any time after 3 p.m. that said day. Almost as an afterthought, I was told of a minor problem with the 'product' and that all they needed was my permission to alter it. I gave her verbal permission and said that written one would be provided the following week. She did not have a problem with that.
I arrived at 3:23 p.m. that Friday afternoon and was told by the receptionist that the lady who I had been talking to would be with me shortly with the cheque.
I waited for about a minute when an officious and pompous 'gentleman' introduced himself with a handshake. He thought himself so significant that he obviously assumed that I recognised his name and his importance. He said, "The cheque is ready but we need your permission in writing before ... ." When I heard the word "before", and given the history, I said, "Don't come with that crap now."
The 'gentleman' flew into a rage cursing and going on about this is "his place" and who do I think I am telling him how to run his business. Cussing "Who this f__king chineyman think he is?" Asking, "If you see Chang name on the building?" And that he is "stopping payment" on the cheque that had not been given to me as yet (LOL). He was like a bull in his own china shop.
Now, I, too, can cuss. But I am an equal opportunity curser. I have never referred to anyone by their colour or to their race or age or sex in any derogatory way. And wonder why people are so quick to do so. How could I? When my two marriages have been to women not of my colour or race and I have adopted two other children who are also not of my race.
Perhaps because it was "his place" and I thought he was making an ass of himself without any help, I never said a word during this ranting.
Having sent the written permission that same Friday (8th) afternoon, I asked someone to collect the cheque last Monday (11th). Probably out of spite, the cheque was still not ready up to the Thursday (14th) of submission of this column.
I subsequently found out that the 'gentleman' in question was indeed the general manager. So it was truly 'his place'. The quick impression that I formed from the reaction of his staff was that his raving was not uncommon, probably even directed at them oftentimes.
'His place' or not, however, I don't think it makes good business sense to start cursing "chineyman" or any other race for that matter.
All for a cheque that had been due to me from August last year. The saga continues.
Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.