Murphy's Law

A lifetime of bureaucracy

My last experience with bureaucracy was enough to last me a life time. Applying for my driver's license was six months of pure agrivation. Filling out forms 54335634.345344/ee.3, 123212.343223.2/3aaq, and 33456.11223/ww/s in triplicate, having my eye doctor (yes, my eye doctor) fill out forms 127767.334q/zzs, 8882343.12q/spc-476, 0099923433454.2/ee45f, and 127765.33eer/6 in triplicate, and having all that rejected, was too much to handle (eventually, I did get my license). I thought, that can never happen again, especially at a college such as FAU. I've been wrong before.

I arrived at FAU at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m., hoping to get this registration thing over early. Ha! To begin with, my major is Computer Science, so I attended the meeting for all science majors in the Samson Science Building. The assistant dean of the science college walked in, and wrote about twenty science majors on the board. Except Computer Science.

“Any questions?” this dean asked.

“Yes,” I said, “what about Computer Science?”

“Go see Dr. Coulter over in Flemming Hall. Room 215,” he said. So I went.

Dr. Coulter was very nice about everything. He told me what I needed, even though the Computer Science Department is not yet fully formed. He handed me a registration form, and told me to go to the Administration building to fill it out.

I go over to the Administration building to fill it out. I then have to go back to Flemming Hall to get it validated. No problem. I wait in line for twenty minutes to have it validated. Then I have to go back to the Administration building to have the form entered into the computer. So I wait in line for twenty minutes to get to the computer.

Problem. I recieved a pink slip at the computer.

I then had to head over to the Health Department to clear up some records. I wait for 45 minutes to find out that they (the people at the Health Dept.) never recieved my immunization records. They say they might be in Administration. I walk back and wait for fifteen minutes this time, to find out that Administration doesn't get the immunization records. The immunization records are always sent to, you guessed it, the Health Dept!

By this time I was getting a little mad. I head back, wait ten minutes, and force the entire department to search for my records. No go. I then had to drive home (twenty minutes away), find my immunization records, drive back, and give a copy (yes, I had to make a COPY first!) to the Health Dept. before they can sign the pink slip saying everything is cleared up!

With the pink form in hand, I head back to the Administration to have my registration entered into the computer. I wait in line for twenty minutes for the computer; I give the pink slip to the gentleman behind the computer. He inputs the registration.

Problem. The English class I signed up for has closed. I now have to pick an alternative class. In fact, by that time, all English classes were closed.

In desparation, I frantically look for another class to take. I settle on FORTRAN. It fits the schedule, and I need to take it anyway.

So, back to Flemming Hall to have my new registration validated. I wait for twenty minutes; nobody will validate my registration form.

Why? Because I don't have an English class. And why don't I have an English class? Because the Health Dept. didn't have my immunization form. And why didn't the Health Dept. have my immunization form? Because word got around that I caused trouble at the Driver's License Bureau! It's a vicious cycle.

Anyway, twenty minutes later, I finally had a validated registration form (they had to give in, becuase 1) I need at least twelve credits to get financial aid, and 2) because I was stubborn).

So it's back to the Administration building. In ten minutes, I had my registration entered into the computer, and was waiting for my schedule to be printed out. Thank God it was over!


My friend (who was with me all this time) looked at my schedule, and pointed out to me that FORTRAN and Calculus overlapped. In fact, Calculus overlapped FORTRAN completely, so I have to either drop one of the classes, skip a class, or find a new class or …

Bureaucrates really hate me.


I was writing the column because I didn't have a car, reguardless of the impression I give in this column (what I neglected to mention was that the license in question was a learner's permit, not the actual license itself. What good would that do me to mention that in a college newspaper? I eventually did get the license, but not until the following year).

Now, how does not having a car lead to writing a humor column? The actual answer lies in moving to Florida in 1979 with my Mom but that's the longer version and frankly, it's a bizarre tale. But the short of it is that I was carpooling with my friend Bill (who is mentioned a few times in this column). Our first semester at Florida Atlantic University and Bill has a lab until 5 pm on Wednesdays, and my last class on Wednesdays is over at 3 pm, so I have some time to kill.

The student paper held editorial meetings on Wednesdays at 4:00 pm, open to all who wish to attend. Having nothing better to do, I attend.

I'm asked what my interest is in. I mention writing a humor column, as I did that in high school (for all of three columns, the last being referenced in this, my first column for college). They said “Great! Can you have one ready next week?”

And oddly enough, this was only one of four (4) columns that I ever received anything in response to. The others being:

  1. The one where I compared the library exit to Check Point Charlie. At the time, before leaving the library you had to have your belongings subjected to an examination, on the pretext of book stealing prevention.

    Anyway, shortly after I wrote this column, the practice stopped!

    There was supposedly a letter written to me from the library staff, but I never saw it.

  2. The one where I talked about my high school English Teachers in some less than flattering terms. The only column ever to get back to my high school, by the way.

    The less said about that one, the better.

  3. The one were I used my column to respond to another columnist in the same newspaper. He responded in his column, and I responded before the editor at the time said “Enough!”

    Then again, this was just before the paper folded anyway …

And the rest, they say, is history.