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Friday, May 14, 2021

The Bureaucrat

Oh my, but there's a lot going on! The only problem is time is at a premium, but I will eventually share as much as I can. The other day Rosa and I signed our closing papers on a mortgage refinancing to take advantage of the current rates. The thing is it took an inordinately long amount of time to get from application to final approval, and none of it was based on anything REAL. In other words, the important aspects, the money, property value, income, etc. were all just dandy, but the bureaucrats in charge of the paperwork were not satisfied with anything other than  absurdly specific forms, many of which were not easily obtained. 

The experience is finally over and everything is good. SO good that it has resulted in a kind of 'sigh-of-relief' recharging of our kinky sides! But more on that to come. Today I will be posting a short story I wrote as a kind of personal therapy during the more bizarre moments in the process of getting our new mortgage. It is a kind of tongue-in-cheek observation of the inane nature of bureaucracy and those entrenched within that paper morass. I offered to share it with my loan officer, but he declined. Enjoy.

Heaven? Hell? All that matters is the Paperwork

The soul of a bureaucrat floats up to the Pearly Gates and seeks admission. St. Peter says, “you certainly qualify, but to get in, you need a ‘Trinity-3.0’ admission form. It says here in my book that you were something of a bureaucrat in your past life and so I’m sure you understand.”

“Well, of course! That makes perfect sense. Where can I get one?”

St. Peter responds, “I can give you one right here, but before I can do that, you’ll need a ‘Form 666’ from Satan, stating he has no claim or interest in you. You’ll need to stop off at Hell for that one, but it’s OK, they’re actually pretty efficient, but then I suppose they’d have to be to deal with the volume of entrants they process.”

So the bureaucrat goes down below to find Satan and a bunch of demons buried under stacks of paperwork. The devil, however, appears calm and in control. Though evil, he seems a  consummate professional and deftly pulls a ‘Form 666’ out from a cauldron and signs it, emancipating the person from any hellbound liability. “Here you go.”

The bureaucrat, impressed by the efficiency St. Peter had foretold, turns to leave when Satan interrupts. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where are you going so fast?”

The bureaucrat, waving his Form 666 responds, “why up to Heaven, of course.”

Satan rolls his eyes in exasperation. “That’s fine, but first you need to show me your copy of your Trinity-3.0 admission form. Otherwise how do we know you’re welcome up there?”

“But I can’t get the Trinity 3.0 without getting the Form 666 first. That’s why I’m here.”

“Hmmmm, that’s true,” the devil muses while stroking his beard. “But it’s equally true that you can’t leave here without the Trinity 3.0. It’s policy.” After some thought Satan speculates, ”I suppose you could apply for a ‘Special dispensation Tri-3 override’. I have a copy right here.” Satan rummages through another cauldron and pulls out a multi-page form the thickness of ‘War and Peace'

The bureaucrat stares in awe at its length and complexity and observes, “this is going to take forever!” Though a part of him is secretly comforted by the mindless rigidity of these afterlife regulations.

Satan snickers, “yes, I believe that’s the point,”  as he hands over a piece of sharpened charcoal to write with. “Now  don’t smudge it, or we can’t accept it and you’ll have to start over.”

“Don’t you have a pen?” the bureaucrat asks. “In heaven they had pens. St. Peter had a stack of them.” 

Satan laughs. “Well of course they have pens in heaven! They have EVERYTHING up there. But you’re down here, and things here are a little more ……..inconvenient. It’s kind of a theme we’ve got going……..but at least we are always open. Those guys,” the devil points up derisively, “close up shop every Sunday.” Then the devil recalls, “I do believe there is one pen around that some lawyer once snuck down here. There is a waiting list for it though. Let’s see, you’d be # 3,089,675,732. But when the others are done with it….and there’s any ink left, it’s yours.”

“Is there at least a place I can work on it with my charcoal? Somewhere with a flat surface?”

The devil points to a spot across from a little lava pool where a huge crowd is feverishly filling out  the same form, and says, “certainly. You can go over there with the other bureaucrats. Some of them have been at it a long time and are very familiar with that form.....though being what they are, I tend to doubt they’ll offer any help. In all eternity I can’t recall any of them ever helping anyone.” The devils leaned back in his office chair with his hands behind his horns. “You know, I used to send some demons over there every now and then to kind of mess with them while they were working, but after seeing how they constantly bicker with each other over the right or wrong way to complete the form, I realized they were doing a fine job of tormenting each other without any outside provocation. It’s saved me a lot on labor. Heck, I’ve even offered a few of the real sticklers a job tormenting the actual condemned souls here. They’re naturals at driving people crazy with technical minutia.”

As he slowly approaches his colleagues the bureaucrat turns and asks, “you said those souls are all fellow bureaucrats? Where are all the other people?”

“Oh, they’re either up there with feathered wings or somewhere down here roasting away, depending on the life they’ve led,” the devil replies matter-of-factly.

“But what about their forms?” the bureaucrat asks.

“Oh no. There are no forms for them. We just do what makes sense with each of them on a case-by-case basis. It’s one of the few things heaven and us agree on. No, the forms are just for you folks. We want you to feel at home.”

And with that, the bureaucrat realizes that maybe the devil is right. Maybe for a dedicated bureaucrat an eternity of filling out forms regardless of venue, is still a kind of heaven, and goes off to join the others no matter how long it takes. Of course for the rest of us souls, their fate didn’t seem heavenly or hellish…...just very, very fair and appropriate.



  1. Good story KD ...and very appropriate as dealing with these people is a nightmare.
    They add no value to the entire process but are the ones who hold it up.
    WIth COVID dealing with them over the phone is even more frustrating !

    1. Thanks, Glen, but when I went back I noticed a horrible formatting glitch and had to redo it. Are you saying you were able to read it without an issue? I sure couldn't. It's fixed now though.

  2. I find this story offensive and will be filing a 723 AA-6.4, motion for a vote on submittal of a pre-objection intention complaint order to desist and cease and quit and stopdoing until further review.

    I regret having to take this measure. But I live in France.

  3. I love that story. It was already nigh impossible to do anything without Covid everywhere. But now that going to a physical office and picking up a physical form is out of the question, online versions of everything have been drawn up - BUT when I went to fill up a form this morning (online, of course) I was told that the website will be down for maintenance. So I shall have to try again tomorrow! Argh.

    1. I have seen Covid prompt both increased efficiency AND for others increased stupidity. Bringing out the best and worst.