Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I don' geddit.

The British are credited with bringing great education and even greater administration to so much of the world (not just India, you know) so why is it British education and administration are so poor now?

Exhibit A: I've dealt with the US embassy. They were great. Friendly, helpful, etc. I've dealt with the Canadian embassy. Ditto. I've dealt with the Hungarian embassy. Again. friendly, helpful etc. I even called the Laos embassy. Not exactly what one would call friendly, but they answered the phone and answered my questions.

Call the UK embassy?
Ring.....ring.....ring.....ring......ring......ring.....ring.....ring......ring.....ring... etc.

Hello Britain???!!!! When I was a kid in the '70s, guess what? We had an answering machine at home. That's right - at home. You probably don't know what this is. What a marvelous machine. You can record a message to be played to callers when you're out or otherwise can't answer the phone. Then (and this is absolutely killer) the caller can leave a message for you to play back upon your return! Isn't that just the keenest?

BTW, it's the 21st century now. I hear you can get actual real computers that do this job. And, like, they can do other things, like direct your callers to different extensions. How amazing is that? No doubt NASA developed all this great stuff to handle their astronauts' calls while they were away jumping across the moon, swimming through a vaccuum or even sucking down a fine meal of beef in red wine, roast potatoes, lightly-steamed asparagus tips and a choice Burgundy from a toothpaste tube.

Here's an idea - try calling the Hungarian embassy. They have one of those computers. Maybe it's just a relic from the good ole' days and "Ivan" stole the plans from the Americans and gave it to the Hungarians, eh?

Their machine is probably the size of a refrigerator but at least it works!

Oh yeah, if you actually visit the British embassy, the big, smiling Ghurka who checks your bags is excellent. Really nice guy but I wouldn't wanna mess, na'ah mean? Anyway, virtually every building in this country has air conditioning. Nearly every vehicle has air conditioning. Go to the UK embassy consular section and what do we find?

The shelves with the forms and info pamphlets is empty so we have to queue. On the stairs - where there's no air conditioning. Finally (after about an hour or so) get seen at a desk where we are given the form we should have been able to receive without queuing. Of course, it says we have to come back the next day.

Oh yeah, you have to get there plenty of time in advance but you then have to queue outside the embassy walls before opening hours. Yeah, it's hot and when it rains, it really rains. No, there's little protection from the elements.

Why, Britain? Why?

(while I'm at it - damnit, Britain, pay those Ghurkas what they deserve!)

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