Signs of Danger

I had to go to a local government office recently to get a permit. The office is open Monday through Thursday, 8:00am to 2:30pm (but closed from 11:30am to 1:00pm for lunch).

I worked from my computer at home in the morning so that I could go to the office that afternoon, arriving just before 1:00pm. By 1:45 nobody had returned, but the office lights and computers were still on. So I tried to call the phone number on their website, but the number was not in operation.

Around 2:00 a car pulled into the driveway and the office lady got out of her car. “You haven’t been waiting long, have you?”, she asked. “No,” I said, “only about an hour. I tried to call the number on your website, but it doesn’t work.”

She rolled her eyes, saying “Yeah, that number’s out of date. I don’t know why they don’t change the website.”

She unlocked the office door and we went inside and on the wall by her desk was a photocopied sign that has the word “WHINING” inside a big circle with a line through it. (In other words, “No Whining”.)

“What do you need?”, she asked, setting down her pocketbook.

At the registrar’s office at the university where I went for undergrad studies there was a sign at the front desk that said, “A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an ’emergency’ on my part.”

A high school friend of my dad used to run his own dry cleaning company. I went into the front office there once and he had a sign up that said “Rule #1. The customer is always right. Rule #2. If the customer is wrong, see Rule #1.”

I wonder how different the government office and the university office would be if they had copies of the dry-cleaner’s sign instead.

(I don’t get upset at these people, though. They have to spend their entire careers in those places, while I only have to go for an hour or so once a year.)

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