Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How Bureaucracy Is Like The First Day Of Middle School

I walked into the Certificate of Fitness testing office for the FDNY the other day:

  • To discover the kind of plastic seating you find waiting for you at assembly, and a linoleum floor patterned to hide the stains from spilled sloppy joe sauce.

  • To find that no one else knew where they were supposed to go, and that each person was nervously searching every look and gesture of everyone else for a clue about how to behave.

  • To see cliques form around those few individuals who seemed to know what was actually going on.

  • To see a scattered few mumbling to themselves, earnestly repeating phrases from a packet of study materials.

  • To finally be led into the testing area, have a seat at the test computer and--first thing--have the man next to me lean over and ask me in a whisper what the answer to such-and-such is, immediately bringing us to the attention of the middle-aged biddy sitting not ten feet away (whom I then had the adolescent urge to placate by pointing at the man to indicate who started it).

  • And finally, to pass both CoF tests with high B's and feel inordinate satisfaction as I was issued ID cards with my picture on them.

I could practically feel my voice wanting to warble and crack the entire time, and not just because I still wear a backpack. One positive development, though, is that this time I wasn't wearing pants whose cuffs end above my ankles.

So I guess I've learned something...

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