It happened last week, when I lined up at a New York immigration booth to ask a simple question about fingerprints I was scheduled to submit. My question? I’d simply wanted to ask – Do I fill out a form in hard copy before immigration officers call me in to get fingerprinted for my US Citizenship application?
It’s important to note that the big room was empty except for Robyn McMaster, and a slightly built Latino lady who did not speak English and sat in a back row.
Eight windows along the front desk that could double for cashier booths at any race track, were occupied by only two clerks when we arrived. So I selected the one closest to me and waited until she lifted her head. Then I asked my question.
Puzzled, she pointed confidently to the booth immediately beside her and told me to line up there. Her directions echoed across the emptiness of the immigration room, but nevertheless I moved over as told, and prepared for a clerk to appear in the empty window.
Then after one minute or so, that same clerk slowly lifted herself from her stool a few feet away and walked over to my newly assigned booth. Since she already knew the answer to my question – she simply said, “Yes, fill out the form over there on the table.”
When I said back. “But you’re the same girl I just spoke to.” She laughed, as if I’d caught onto a top secret that bureaucrats go by when they create rules and treat all humans the same, and all queries the same, taking a rigidly fixed route from point A to B as if routines offered a magic wand to add zip into rehearsed responses only. Yikes, what was I to do with all that just happened to me at the hands of government officials? Robyn and I laughed on the way home, yet we also dreamed of rejuvenated and interactive government officials.
Then yesterday my friend, Robert Hruzek asked what we learned from Government lately, and my immigration story flashed back. I learned a great deal about bureaucracy that day – but some of it I already knew. Hopefully, with government changes this week, I’ll begin to learn more about rejuvenation within government leaders.
By the time I become a US citizen, I hope we can create government with more of the brain in mind. How so?
1. I’d like to see attack ads transformed into support for more diverse ideas, openly discussed.
2. I hope we rewire for peace and build stronger communities internationally where we value others.
3. I’d leap for joy at spaces for people to engage more talents from genius aging minds all around us.
Those are 3 things that popped quite quickly into my mind, when the booth lady shifted me to her pre-set line to answer my question, and by so doing gave me a larger dream for what government could become, with more of the brain in mind. What have you learned from government lately?