San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

The Mind of a Bureaucrat: Where No Brain Has Gone Before

Recently I picked up a wonderful new attachment for my PDA, called Intelect-Inside, which, when pointed at a subject within 15 meters, is able to capture and display the unexpressed thoughts of that person. A few days ago I went to a quasi-government office. I arrived at opening time and while I waited, having nothing better to do, I pointed the thing at a young employee who was sitting at a nearby desk.

What follows here is the sequence of his thoughts, translated from pachuco Spanish to English:

Whoof! Made it just in time. Stupid new security service! Why do they have to check employees coming in and going out? Yesterday afternoon they almost found the staplers. I’ll have to stop doing that before I get caught.

Don’t these privatized people ever rest? I know the kind of thing Security is trying to catch in the mornings. They stopped Elberth from the Filing Department from bringing in his bottles of guaro. That’s goodbye to his little business! He’s going to feel the drop in his income… I bet he won’t be able to afford Rosita any more…

Hey, maybe I’ll be able to pick up with Rosita myself. Nah! With the stapler, paper punch and scissors business going phut, I wouldn’t be able to afford her, either. Stupid new security service! But I daren’t take up with Rosita anyway – Stupid Carmen would immediately tell my wife.

Where is Stupid Carmen, anyway? I know! She must be in the bathroom putting on her face. Uncanny, the way she arrives back at her desk exactly one minute before the jefe walks in.

Uh oh. There’s the messenger from Metropolitana.

I mustn’t meet his eye! Maybe if I ignore him, Sánchez will attend to him. Boy, Sánchez is really trying for a promotion – he was actually working when I arrived.What’s he trying to do – show the rest of us up? Stupid Sánchez!

Mustn’t raise my eyes! Hmm, my shoes need waxing. They haven’t been cleaned since the new guards stopped the shoeshine lad from coming in. Now everyone has dirty shoes and we don’t have those racy magazines any more, to pass the while away. Stupid security service!

The new privatized cleaning service is good! They cleaned the dust from my outbox. I wonder if I should make two piles of the stuff in my inbox? The one pile is likely to topple over. Should I put the files in alphabetical order to expedite things when someone needs something? Nah! Too much trouble. Let ’em wait while I riffle through.

Ooh, there’s Rosita! Yoo hoo, Rosita! Wow, I love it when she stretches backward like that.Heck! I caught the eye of Metropolitana – but he just smiled and looked at Rosita. I think that blouse is one she bought from the Nica. The Nica hasn’t come back since the new guard service started – they probably stop him from coming in. I saw him lurking outside yesterday – luckily he didn’t see me. I don’t like those shirts very much, anyway, so why should I pay for them? Maybe I should grow back my moustache. No, I can’t grow it back because then the lottery chap would recognize me, and I owe him more than I owe the Nica.

Hmm, that man’s here to see the jefe – I’d better pretend to be working. Boy, the dust between the files in my inbox is terrible. I think I’ll go to the infirmary later and pretend to have hay fever, and maybe they’ll give me some more of that allergy medicine I sell to my brother-in-law.

Here’s the file I told the guy from Cosmopolitas I had processed and sent to the Evaluations Department. Stupid Cosmopolitas guy, with his shrill voice and horrible haircut – I hope he got properly messed up! But I must be more compliant or he won’t repeat the nice Christmas present this year.

Ah, here comes Stupid Carmen – so the jefe will be arriving any moment. I’d better keep looking busy. But I mustn’t look up – Sánchez still hasn’t attended to Metropolitana.

We should turn the desks around so we don’t have to face the counter and “see” the people who are waiting. But if we turn the desks around, the people at the counter would see our computer monitors, and that’s no good! I wonder where I can get the new version of Free Cell?

Stupid Carmen hasn’t said “good morning” to me. In fact, she hasn’t even looked at me.Who does she think she is? Boy, I’d really like to nab her stapler, paper punch and scissors, and then see her squirm! But she locks them in her desk whenever she’s away from it. Stupid Carmen! What does she think I am, a thief? It’s not as if taking staplers, scissors and paper punches were really stealing – nobody around here cares about that sort of thing.

Where’s the jefe? I want his newspaper. I’m sure La Liga won, but I want to check the final score of last night’s game. Stupid ICE and its power cuts – it should be privatized! But if they privatize ICE we will follow right behind, and that would be really terrible – I don’t know what I would do! And all these other poor people. Except Sánchez – he would find a new job right away, curse him! I really should try to get into the hierarchy of the union and become one of the Untouchables.

There’s the guy from Profesionales. Maybe he knows how the game ended up. But I’d better not ask him – he may want me to do something for him, and now it’s now only 20 minutes before my first coffee break, so I can’t take on any more tasks.

Here’s the jefe. I’d better look busy.What’s this green thing in the second drawer of my desk? Yech! It’s the doughnut left over from the Independence Day celebration. Disgusting! I’ll put it on Stupid Carmen’s chair when she’s not looking. Now I think I’ll go check out today’s lunch menu at the cafeteria…


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