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No thinking allowed at the Denver parking office

"What's wrong with thinking?"

Note: In a blog posted earlier today, Jonathan Shikes salutes the positive side of city bureaucracy. The following represents the other side of the coin.

Yesterday, I was standing in line at the Denver parking cashier’s office, about to receive a much-coveted permit to park on my own block, when something strange happened. The cashier who had been helping me -- a perfectly nice and polite bureaucrat, with fake roses on her desk and a cat calendar on her wall -- was suddenly accosted by her supervisor.

Apparently, the cashier had made some unknown, egregious error in processing my application. Her enraged boss started berating her with questions, using that superior, kindergarten-teacher tone that tends to induce vomiting in people with IQs. "How do you know this?" "You’re avoiding the question." "Why didn’t you ask me?" And on and on and on.

The boss even insisted that I hand back all my paperwork -- including that shiny new permit! -- so she could force the cashier to enter everything into the computer again. Stuck behind the Plexiglas window, there was little I could do to stop her. At one point, I heard the boss snap: "We don’t pay you to think!"

Ah, that explains it. Perhaps if city employees were allowed to think, it wouldn’t have taken me half an hour to get a parking permit. -- Lisa Rab

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts