Friday, May 29, 2009


In the US (and maybe here) there's a phrase "going postal" which usually means going crazy... or more specifically losing it and getting violent in the workplace, based on an incident in the early 1980s where a series of postal workers came in and shot up their managers. We recently saw a movie called "He was a quiet man" that has some of those plot elements (good movie, recommend, no spoilers here).

To be honest though, the post office doesn't seem like that bad of a place. There's something reassuring about the transaction, I entrust you with my goods, we exchange a tiny bit of money, you go off and take my stuff anywhere in the world. No way could I get a package from here to the US for under $30 if I had to do it myself. Good on ya, post office, big fan here.

Now, VicRoads, on the other hand... It's the equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the US. We're able to convert our US license to an Australian one without an actual test, which is great. But we do need to go in person to their office. We needed to make an appointment, and the earliest appointment was 8 weeks out. That's longer than the gestation period of an emu (all the way from "hey there good looking" to "hark, a little baby emu!" and still no license).

Their "downtown" office is about 40 minutes on public transit from the Docklands. Here's a picture of their front door:

And here's what I imagine it would look like if an asteroid to hit their office:

They asked for all kinds of ID, passport, utility bill, old license, local credit card, etc. There was also a form that asked a zillion things. One was if I was taking any medication. Oh, if ever there was a box that I could untick. Stop time... just reach across the counter... comically large eraser... wipe out the whole thing.

The bad news was that I'd need an appointment with a doctor and have him fill out a form and I'd come back a second time. It took a while to set up going to the doctor, paid some money for a rubber stamp really.

Today I thought it would be nice to do my follow up appointment, so took off work early. Getting cross town was nuts, almost none of the trams were working because of evacuations associated with a chemical leak downtown. Took forever to get a taxi then was stuck in traffic.

To make a short story long, I rock up and their first question is "passport please?" Even without my passport, they apparently wouldn't have given me the license anyway because my medical form would still need to be reviewed by their doctors which takes a couple days. One part of me felt like I'd lose my marbles and just go ape... Another part felt like "yup, of course, deserve that". Can we just get a replay on that asteroid?

Christine is quite effective at getting her way re customer service. My strategy is mostly to be quietly indignant and marbled with sarcasm.

"Do you really mean I have to come back a third time?" "Yes" "Like I have to take off work again?" "Yes" "And go all the way cross town?" "Yes" "Because my ID verification from the first time is in the computer but not your actual paper form?" "Yes" "And the same shift manager from the first time is right there and she saw everything I had last time?" "Yes" "Can you copy it from the computer to your form?" "No" "If you give me the pen, can I do it?" "No" "Is this a hoax?" "No" "Right, well forget you then, I'm off!" "Bye" I don't think it works. Having worked for the government, you would think I'd could speak in secret code to them. Hard to win against industrial strength bureaucracy though. I'm probably better of not driving anyway.

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