People are bastards

By Dave McLean

The typical scenario starts like this: you call in to register, you get half the classes you need, maybe one you don’t want, and days worth of hassle just trying to figure out what you’re going to do to remedy your situation. So, you trudge off to your friendly faculty advisor to wait in line and check out your options.

Once inside; you eventually gain an audience with an advisor, who dutifully tells you the class you’re trying to get into is full. You plead your case and ask if there’s any way a non-major such as yourself can get into the class and the body language says it all.

"You’ll have to meet with the Associate Dean," she says.

As if jumping through all the hoops wasn’t bad enough, you now have to slam through two brick walls (the Associate Dean’s secretary is quite an obstacle, designed to discourage students from booking appointments at all) in order to get a more favorable result.

Don’t get me wrong, I like waiting and it’s something we all have to learn. Once you get past the fact that it took two weeks to finally gain an audience with the Associate Dean, you explain your story once again and hope that it hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. The trip to the Associate Dean comes out even less favorable if your GPA isn’t up to snuff. There is nothing she can do for you –you feel helpless, disappointed and angry. Sometimes it goes the other way, and that in itself might be even more frustrating. A quick glance at your request and she signs it. What?

Disappointingly that’s how it goes, but then again the university isn’t the only place where you file through the chain of command to get a desirable results. Too often the front line employees are the ones that know the least, get paid the least, have the least amount of power, yet at the same time have to take the most pressure or carry the heaviest load of responsibility.

It’s hardly fair to blame the first person you meet on your way to solving a problem, but it’s usually hard to avoid. The widespread disempowerment of employees all over the world is somewhat of a conspiracy towards us all. As mega-corporations and mondo-institutions such as banks or our very own University of Calgary unleash the wrath of their bureaucratic process we, the "little" people, are chained into their problem solving systems. It’s a vicious cycle: 1. Report your complaint; 2. Wait; 3. Talk to customer service; 4. Unresolved complaint forwarded to Supervisor; 5. Wait; 6. Complain about the complaint process, go to step 1.

What we really need to do is start at the top and complain our way down. Why should the poor customer service rep have to filter through problems day in and day out? If you have a problem with your registration; why not talk to the Dean of your faculty first I’ve heard that if you get to know them well, they can overload you into any course. The advisor can only tell you who to talk to next. Now that’s a radical idea.

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