Friday, September 19, 2014


This delightful read, by a British police inspector who wishes to be anonymous, is THE DISCORDIAN BOOK OF THE MONTH.  It is drawn from the author's experiences at work -- it's not so much about busting crime, which he loves and would not give up for anything.  The book is really about what he has to slog through when he is THROUGH busting crime.  Because of the bureaucratic structure of the policing system in Britain, "Inspector Gadget" can spend minutes handling a crime scene and nicking the lawless perpetrator -- then half a day, or longer, swimming against the tide in a choppy sea of red tape.  Chapter after chapter is devoted to the different ridonkulous forms he needs to fill out, the special procedures he needs to go through in situations someone decided needed a different kind of attention, the extra miles he has to drive and the theoretical reasons for it all, as drawn up by his superiors, many of whom have NEVER been front-line police officers. 
Remember the sage words from the Principia Discordia about the wisdom of sending back a long, carefully-completed form that's come to you in dodecatuplet, stamping it "DENIED: PLEASE RESUBMIT IN UKRAINIAN"?  This is THAT sort of bureaucracy.
I won't make any attempt to summarize the craziness here.  But I will say that this guy must have a love of actual police work more powerful than anything on earth if he is willing to go through 6 hours or more of hairsplitting paperwork and 8 hours looking for a jail cell after a 5-minute bust for drunk & disorderly.  Especially when, as an inspector, he knows that all this wasted effort keeps him from being able to help anyone else out who might need it, and even more so when he is painfully aware that most of the police force that ought to be available to people in need are assigned to desk jobs, auditing whether guys like Gadget are meeting their quotas.
If you think your job is a bureaucratic or procedural nightmare, check this one out.  I read Gadget and went back to my own desk this morning, astonished at how simple it all suddenly looked.


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