Have you ever felt that you’ve time-warped somehow while reading “Government-Speak” or Bureaucrababble?
I seem to have had a week of it.
It first started when I had to create a log-in and password so I could complete a government report. Despite it being a really truly branch of the government, I had to laugh when my lowly little computer popped up with a “Warning. The website you’re trying to latch on to is not secure.” Well, now that just gladdens the heart, doesn’t it?
Creating the password itself required, I think, a minor degree in science, as it had to be 15-20 characters long, including at least two each of capitals letters, lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Naturally one just tripped off my tongue, and I wonder how the government thinks you’re ever going to remember such a monster when you’re technically not allowed to write it down anywhere.
You then get to the “Quick Guide” a snappy little five-page document, as opposed to the weightier regular guide burgeoning out to 55 pages.
In it I found such incredibly helpful entries such as this:
“Requiring Activity Unit Identification Code – The Unit Identification Code (UIC) of the Requiring Activity (RA) refers to the UIC of the Requiring Activity that would be performing the mission if not for the contractor. This is not necessarily the Contracting Office, Contracting Administrative Office, or Funding Source.”
But wait! There’s more….
“Major Command of Requiring Activity – Command of the Requiring Activity that would be performing the mission if not for the contractor.”
And these paragraphs laughingly come under a heading “Explanation of Required Field”.
Now nowhere does it tell you how to actually find any of these mysterious codes, and if you actually have the temerity to call the help desk, you’re greeted by a rather huffy person who cannot for the life of him understand why we mere mortals cannot quite grasp the evidently easy-peasy Department-Speak.
We – meaning you and me, the taxpayers – are actually paying someone, no doubt in cubicle number 8,495, to write this drivel, and then to have it checked by, oh probably, 97 different supervisors before it can go to print.
It would not surprise me in the least if these people go home after putting in a mind-numbing eight hours in their lonely cubby holes and demand such things as:
“Married woman in relation to the marriage partner! Convey to me an alcoholic beverage made by the brewing and fermentation from cereals, preferably malted barley and flavored with hops. Then I desire the table d’hôte, served at a suitably high temperature, consisting of one protein, two varieties of plants, and followed by a frozen food containing cream or milk and butterfat, sugar, flavoring and, if you must, eggs. There’s a passionately tender emotion.”
In other words – “Oy, wife! Gimme a beer, a hot dinner – steak and two veg, and then some ice cream. There’s a love.”
As Professor Higgins bemoaned in My Fair Lady “By right she should be taken out and hung, for the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue.”
Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.