A Special Hell for Bureaucrats

I know. I know. I haven’t been keeping up with the blog as well as I might. Real life keeps getting in the way. We are currently in the midst of our latest head-butting practice having to do with my US house closing from the distance of France. I’ll leave that fun story for another time…suffice it to say, it involves multiple complications, strenuous efforts, and lots of walls, oh…and a trip to Paris!

During this latest trial, Stuart and I were both struck with a certainty that there must be a special hell for bureaucrats. In fact, we’re pretty sure what goes on in that hell.

* * *

[The bureaucrat arrives in hell which is disguised to look exactly like the gates of heaven. He approaches the front desk.]


“George Bureaucrat.”


“Proof? I don’t have any proof. I’m dead.”

“Sorry. I can’t let you in without proof. Here. Fill out this blue form.”

“Do you have a pen I could borrow?”

“Yes. That’ll be $8543. Cash or charge?”

“What for?”

“The pen.”

[moments later]

“Okay, here is my completed blue form.”

“This will never do. We need at least three copies…”

“Is there a copier here?”

“…three copies, that is, of your birth certificate translated into at least 5 languages.”

“Are you shitting me?”

“And I don’t see your parents’ signatures on here.”

“But my parents are dead. In fact, they’re probably here.”

“No excuses! I can’t let you in without their signatures.”


“You have another option.”

“What’s that?”

“Make an appointment for a signature exception.”

“Okay, I’d like to make an appointment for a signature exception.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t do that here. You’ll need to take the stairs down 567 flights, past the red tape, to the Signature Exception Department. They’ll be closed for the next six weeks, though. It’s vacation season.”

[Arrives at the Signature Exception Department and waits 6 weeks.]


“I need a signature exception please.”

“May I please have your stamp?”


“You were supposed to get stamped at the front desk upstairs.”

“I don’t…they didn’t…but…but…”


[Goes back up the 567 flights of stairs to the front desk.]

“I need a fucking stamp.”

“There are people ahead of you. Take a seat.”

“No! I demand a stamp now!”

“Fine. The stamp department is through that rotating door.”

“Thank you.”

[Goes through rotating door. Bureaucrat is now locked out in the freezing rain. Eventually, he finds his way back in again, gets his required stamp and goes back down 567 flights to the Signature Exception desk.]

“I need…”

“Oh, you again. Stamp? Let’s see. The next available appointment is 9 years and 37 days from today at 11AM.”

“‘Scuze me?”

“Do you want it?”

“What am I supposed to do for 9 years and 37 days?”

“Well, you can start on the application.” [hands over an inch thick packet]

“This is the application?”

“Well, it’s the first part.”

“You mean, there’s more?”

“Yes. That’s Part A, the shortest. There is also Part B, Part C, Part D, Part E…and a few others, but the worst by far is Part ZZZ. Oh, and this too. This just requires you to name all of your siblings.”

“I only have one brother.”

“By siblings we mean cousins…1st, 2nd, 3rd once removed, and twice, and third removed cousins as well. This will need to be certified by a notary…from Belarus…with an affidavit from the North Korean government. All parts must be translated into every known language on the planet including dead languages such as Latin, Akkadian, and made up languages such as Klingon and Ubba-dubby. This must then be submitted in triplicate, no staples, along with a four leaf clover.”

“And where am I supposed to get a four leaf clover?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t help you with that. It’s not my department. But when you find the right department, they’ll ask you for a recent photo…no more than one minute old. I have to warn you, they usually have a very long line. I’d bring a camera…and a printer.”

[So finally, our weary bureaucrat hands in all his paperwork after many years of struggle and toil.]

“Here. I’ve finished my application. Can I please go through now?”

“What is this?

“My application.”

“But these are the old forms. We can’t accept those anymore. Dear me. You’ll have to start again using the new forms.”

* * *

Something like that anyway.