Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bureaucracy Rears Its Ugly Head

The following is a bit I wrote for the East Valley Times a couple of years ago.
The Reeeeeeely funny thing about this came in the mail this summer!

A few days ago a Shasta College catalog came in the mail.
Coincidentally I had been pondering the possibility of taking a class in pottery making. I checked the catalog and found a beginning ceramics class. What luck!
I went to my computer to fill out the application form, thinking,
“My oh my! The Internet has made so many things easier-for most people.”
On the school’s website, I got a questionnaire with multiple-choice answers.
My first choice to make was:

Am I still in high school? Or
Have I attended college classes before? Or
Is this my first time to enroll in Shasta College?

OK, well, I am definitely not still in high school, and I have taken college classes before, but I am enrolling in this college for the first time.
Eenie meenie miney me, I think I’ll take choice number three.

Unfortunately, this choice generated instructions for me to attend orientation and matriculation. (Matriculation?) Then I needed to be assessed in math and English.
Oh, no I don’t.
I ignored that part.
Next instruction:
Send high school transcript.
Since my high school was torn down about thirty years ago, I think I’ll ignore that part, too.

Next they requested that I write letters asking for any college transcripts I might have accumulated.
This was getting confusing. That’s too many letters to write for a fun class.
I skipped that part as well.
Next came the level of education question. Didn’t I already answer this? My choices were:
__Finished high school (Yes, During the Kennedy administration!)
__GED (Didn’t know this was an option at the time.)
__Some College (Yes, about 300 units!)
Since the technology wouldn’t let me elaborate, I chose the latter.

Now I found questions (still multiple choice) about my reasons for attempting to enroll in college. My choices were something like:
__To further my career
__To learn new skills so I can leave my sorry job
__For professional growth
__I just got out of high school and don’t know what else to do.

No, I don’t want to do any of the above! I only want to take the one class, just for fun!
As it turned out, after name and address none of the questions were answerable.

I needed a real person.
I called and got to speak to a sweet young voice that assured me that I could take the pottery class for fun. I just needed to get a “Webadvisor” account on line.

So, I spent the next half-hour arguing with my computer screen and pounding on my keyboard, attempting to accidentally establish a webadvisor connection.

(Let me interject here, that everything I accomplish on my computer, I do so by accident.)

Somewhere during my inexpedient floundering, I got an email from a guy at the school asking me if I needed help. He was very polite. He didn’t say, “What in heck are you trying to do, you cretinous schmendrick?” as I am sure he was thinking.

I dashed off the following return email.

Hi there,
What I want to do is enroll in Beginning Ceramics S2598.
What I did was attempt to apply for a webadvisor account.

Lynn Guinn & lguinn are taken, (Imagine! There’s another Lynn Guinn in these parts!) so I added #947 (my favorite flight, to Cancun, where I was wishing I could immediately be transported.), and the account was set. When I tried to access this account to enroll in said ceramics class I got back that lguinn947 is not a valid user name.

I tried several times with several capitalization configurations, and
sometimes it liked my username but not my password, and sometimes it liked my password and not my user name!

I am sure it is I, who is bungling here, because computers never make mistakes.

Perhaps the system is annoyed with me because I do not want to follow all of the directions and send for the appropriate transcripts, but I am a 61 year old retired public school teacher with a masters degree and this procedure would require more letter writing and red tape than I wish to participate in. I don't want to further my career; I don't want credit, or even a grade. I simply want to play with clay.
Thank you for your help,
Lynn Guinn,
Confirmation number 1631-02006S-4-01085007-099634441-0745276358
(Quite an epic number, wouldn’t you say?)

The helpful guy gave me the tools I needed to enroll. When I finally got through, I found that the twenty spaces in the class were filled and there were twenty-five more wishful artists on the waiting list.
I couldn’t help but think that when I began the process of enrollment there was plenty of room for me in the class, but by the time I actually applied, alas, the spaces were all filled.

I hope that by the fall semester the people at the college have realized they need more classes in clay. I certainly hope I don’t forget my confirmation number.

Then this came this summer:

Dear Lynn,

Our student records reflect missing information in regards to your high school attendance.

In order for Shasta College to provide you the best service now and in the future, please reply to this email and provide us with the following information;

*Name of high school last attended

*City and state of high school

*Year of graduation or pending graduation

Please reply to this email with the updated information.

Thank you for your time, and we hope that Shasta College is meeting your educational needs.

Shasta College
Admissions & Records


Blondie's Journal said...


This is a masterpiece!! I enjoyed every second reading it and laughed so hard I nearly piddled!!

Talk about red tape!!

Have a good week, my friend!


mbkatc230 said...

Boy, I'm glad they were right on top of that! Maybe this means there's an opening in the class??? This was really funny, thanks for the laugh. Kathy

Lori E said...

"Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible"
I think quote by Javier Pascual Salcedo?

Nancy @ La Chambre Rose said...

Such a simple thing that only used to require waiting in line to get it done. I see a bright future for our tax dollars. Loved the post!

Joanne said...

Oh Lynn - this is HORRIBLE. I work in post secondary and I just shuddered reading this post. I hope to goodness no one ever encounters this sort of stuff when trying to register with us.

I would love to forward this to our registrar as a word of warning.

Housewife Savant said...

I hear ya!
I had to enroll for my online class via snail mail. There was NO item for "Slacker Housewife Forced to Take Class to Keep on Slacking".

MaryRC said...

oh man oh man what fun are you. here via housewife savant. next time.. local rec center..

Keely said...

Hahhahhah! I love it. I think all uni's are the same.