"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Friday, December 05, 2014

angels in bureaucratic places

Yesterday I had to go to the university to speak to an academic advisor during their very limited "drop-in" hours. It was just over a technicality. The system wasn't letting me register for my next class, and I needed them to do ... something ... to fix that.

I was pretty grumbly about it, to be honest.

"Stupid online system that doesn't work ..."

"All the way to the university,
park several blocks away,
wait for who knows HOW long at a stupid drop-in ..."

"Oh suuuuure, you can make an appointment,
but that requires being able to actually get through
to a real person on the stupid phone ..."


You get the idea. To be fair - my grumbling was based on years of nearly quitting altogether from time to time, simply because of the entirely unnavigable website and bureaucracy

Aaaanyhoo, I needed to register. I'm way late for registering for this next course, because of this technical difficulty.

So I went. Parked (and set the timer on my phone for an hour, after which my car would be ticketed), walked in to campus (mentally grumbling the whole way), found the building I needed, took a deep breath, smiled and walked in.

The person at the desk smiled back, indicating a pile of forms and a bowl of candies.

"Just fill in this short form ... have a candy if you like ... and they'll be right with you."

I glanced around with resignation at several others waiting, and the person at the desk clarified. 

"They're all first-years, waiting for a different academic advisor. Yours isn't busy - she will just be a moment."

A minute later, my name was called and I went down the hall to Kelly, who was looking through my files and records. She assured me she would fix the technical difficulty, and then followed up with, "Let's just do this...." Took out a pen, scratched out "4" and wrote in "3". 

"So you just need to do three 4th-year courses now, not four. OK?"

"... Uh ... OK ..."

"And an elective. Any course at all. Whatever you like."

"OK ... oh ... I took an Anthropology course a few years ago by mistake.
It was a great course, but it didn't count for anything.
Does that count now?"

"Absolutely," she said. "So that's done. So you just need three 4th-year courses, that's it."

"OK," I said, stunned.

"Now," she said. "Which course do you want to take in January?"

"Any one at all that fits the requirements," I said. 

"OK ... hmmm ... they're all full ... but of course someone might drop one ..."

I nodded. I'm familiar with that part. She talked me through the list, mentioning one course that sounded interesting, and has a professor I've had before; I really liked him.

"That's an HB course," she said.

"Oh, ok. ... wait, what's HB?"

"Hold back," she smiled.

"Ooohhhh ... wait, what is that?"

"Oh," she said. "That's when they hold back seats for late registrants, just in case. Why don't you just go see Olga, upstairs, give her this ... and this ... and she'll get you a waiver and register you in that course, or whichever course you like. OK?"

"OK," I said. "Um ... thank you so much!"

Went to the 6th floor. Saw Olga. She smiled, reviewed my records, waived the hold-back, and registered me. 

Walked across campus to drop off a pastoral reference at another department for a student who's in my church.

Walked back to my car, with four minutes to spare.

Used those four minutes to dance and shriek joyfully in the middle of the street.

!!! only 3 more courses to go !!!

And a very happy Outrage-Free Friday to you too!

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