I need to vent.
Since most of my coworkers are on vacation this week, one would assume that this means more for me to do – you know, pick up the slack, keep things running, get those projects out the door. Not the case. And not for lack of a big ol’ stack of dern things that gotta git did. No siree. My newest lesson-of-the-week is this: there is a wall that I simply cannot get through.
Let’s play a game. It’s called Name That Wall. Any takers? The Great Wall of China! Nope. Guess again. I know! I know!! The Berlin Wall. Ah no, I’m afraid it’s not that either. This wall is higher, fiercer, more insurmountable, and more impenetrable. It may even be visible from Space. It is called Bureaucracy. There is a gigantic, bureaucratic wall that has succeeded in completely and utterly preventing me from making any progress whatsoever on any of those pesky projects I was sent here to complete.
Right now, at this moment, I have no fewer than one dozen outstanding e-mails, all of which play some significant role in one of my tasks at hand. I currently have outstanding inquiries at the International Romany Writers’ Association, the European Roma Information Network, and the office of a certain British councilor, among others. I also have two each awaiting responses from Partners’ for Democratic Change and the United States Agency for International Development. And can anyone guess the big winner? I have a grand total of six outstanding messages pending at various branches of the United Nations.
While we little folks down here at wee international organizations unfortunate enough to only have branches in, say, three European states, try to organize and network our way into the international system, the international system is so bloody organized that it’s worked us right out. Getting a response from some of these people can be a nightmare of tail-chasing as person numero uno refers us to person numero dos, who then recycles us right back to person numero uno because “I’m afraid this is not our department. I am certain that Uno will be happy to assist you in this matter. Please do not hesitate to write if you have any further concerns.” Then, of course, Uno is away from her desk for the next seventeen weeks and will not be answering any e-mails.
Here’s the thing. It’s Monday, for one. But more than that, I realized this weekend that I am exactly halfway through my internship, and several of the reports I’m supposed to compile and contacts I’m supposed to make have not progressed one whit because no one has time to respond to e-mails from strangers.
I would like to mention, however, that no one seems to have any trouble responding to short articles by strangers who make them angry, as was the case with said British councilor. After a solid e-spanking about how I should make sure that I have all the facts before writing about Roma being evicted from their homes, I was professional enough to offer to write a follow-up article if the Gentleman could, please, inform me of said facts. Straighten me out and I’ll be glad to present the Other Side. Naturally, however, the councilor has since been too busy to reply to any such e-mails.
I realize that this particular blog is something of a departure from the tone and the candor of my previous pieces. But what can one expect when one finds herself twiddling her thumbs at the very beginning of a week, while the pile of to-dos grows stubbornly on her desk, because she cannot move forward without the documentation/ permission/ explanation/ clarification of Ms. Whoever at the United Nations Office for Investigating Something Important (UNOISMI, for short).
This might also be a good time to very clearly state that the opinions expressed in this blog in no way reflect those of either the Dzeno Association or the Advocacy Project, and are in no way meant to reflect poorly upon any of the organizations I’ve mentioned above, many of which continue to do excellent work despite my aggravation at their perpetual busy-ness.
And truthfully, while an organization such as UNOISMI eternally, er, annoys me, by its bureaucracy and its size and the over-extension of most of its employees, it is not without understanding on my part. I am, after all, still an unknown writer from a fairly small organization in what is still a fairly small country. I guess I can cut these busy folks some slack.
Though my pile of “dern things gotta git did” numbers in the dozens, I am certain that most of those whose responses I await are staring down the barrel of “dern mountains that gotta git climbed.” As one exasperated World Banker I know recently (and accurately) commented: We could probably all benefit from some streamlining.
Posted By Stacy Kosko (Czech Republic)
Posted Jul 19th, 2004