German bureaucracy, lunch break obstacles – and a reset to sanity

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Today was rage day – you know, one of those days when you are not sure that you are, in fact, not part of a secretly filmed sitcom.

Germany is very famous for its bureaucracy and sense of order – after all, that’s how we won the w… wait, what?! We are also known for our efficiency. Doesn’t anybody notice that bureaucracy and efficiency are contradictions? Antonyms? Anyway, the bureaucracy in my company is very colourful, but not in a good way! We are currently changing our financial system – before, I would sign the payment instructions and then carry them out myself through online banking. Easy, efficient. I would collect everything to be paid or claimed and then sit down and do it once a week. Worked fine!

Now we have to do all the financial stuff through a superordinate financial department. So now we collect all the bills and refund notes and fill out forms for them. Not ANY form, mind you. Blue forms are for expenses, green forms for claims without bills. You must not, under NO circumstances, mix up the colours. Wrong colours cannot be processed! For anything else, we use white forms, but we must only use blue pens to fill them out. The forms then have to be signed by both my boss and the treasurer (who is only in once a week in the evening). The forms can only be given to the internal courier on Wednesdays – not Thursday, not Monday – Wednesday. And you can just hope the guys don’t use the wrong colour for their signature! After three months now, our freelancers started complaining that they still haven’t gotten their money for January. I tried to call the financial department, but of course no-one answered. They only call back after an email. So today they finally told me that there was a signature missing, and that they would send the form back to us for a new form (BLUE!) and the signatures of everybody involved. Really? I also asked why I have not been reimbursed for the train-tickets that I paid with my private credit card. Oh, they did wire the money, but just to someone else’s account, so they will send a form back to me that I have to sign, and also my boss and the treasurer. REALLY? You mess it up and I have to go through the whole process again? I spent half of my work-day dealing with forms and colours. Everything is a lot easier now…

For my half-hour lunch break, I decided to get something from the supermarket quickly. Quickly is the word you should concentrate on here. Usually, it is the pensioners that block the checkout digging for coins to pay the exact amount. Not today, no pensioners! But alas, the clerks obviously were in break-mode, too. While I was the only person at the counter, the two women behind it had a good midday chat. I mean, who is counting time, not me!

When I left work today, I felt really stressed. I let myself get caught up in all the bullshit, and took it out on the traffic. All those IDIOTS! Driving school in front of me with no way to overtake, the guy stalling the engine at every traffic light. Cars without indicators (they seem to come without them these days), you name it.

And then, when I pulled into my street, this van blocked it. My blood was just starting to boil again. Then I saw two guys pulling a stretcher to the car, and I thought “Oh ok, somebody is sick, it’s an emergency.” Then I noticed that the body was fully covered with a blanket. The person was dead, and the van was a mortuary car. As I waited for them to finish so I could pass them, I calmed down. This person was dead, another soul gone. And I though “Really? Do I really want to spend my time getting into a fret about stupid stuff like form colours and happily chatting employees? Will I waste precious life-time thinking and talking about this. Do I want Hopefully the undertaker picks the correct form be my last thought before I die?”

No, uh-uh, not me! I shall calm down. They want blue forms, I give them blue forms. Guy is stalling the car, heck, he is learning! I shall remember to breathe and focus on the important things – like Mr. Betterhalf smiling at me when I walk into the door. That makes the day worth it!

Colourful greetings!

Kerstin

 

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