The tale of the billing assistant
Bureaucracy and play
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Today’s offering is based on a recent experience that exemplifies how we should live with the impersonality of bureaucracy in ways that enrich rather than stifle. If you are student or currently facing financial strife, please email me so I can provide you with the full article. No questions asked.
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I took my seat behind a rather intricately designed teak conference table, a table I deemed, over the years, to be an ostentatious caricature of capitalistic excess. As I sipped my slightly burnt espresso, I greeted my fellow panellists while we waited for the first interviewee to arrive. Long-time readers would know small talk isn’t my forte, so awkward smiles and inane observations of the weather ensued - “doesn’t the sky look grey today” or “the wind does make the trees sway”. Just as we were running out of hackneyed adjectives, the door swings open with a flamboyancy that stood in stark contrast to the corporate sterility of our surroundings.
The three of us were greeted with a beaming smile across the room that seemed a tinge overdone, but nonetheless well-intentioned.
Stood at the entrance was a young man hardly over 25, dressed in a scorching bright yellow tartan suit, clutching on to what seemed like a documented testimony of his prior employment experience, replete with a booklet of laminated certificates. There was an unexplainable pomposity to how he carried himself which seemed more endearing rather than patronising.
“Oh a jolly good morning to all, I’m here to interview for the role of administrative billing assistant!”, he called out, in a tone much reminiscent of a medieval town crier, apart from a vague crackle in his voice, perhaps a reflection of nerves.
Despite the jitteriness, he seemed energised by a rhythm that was familiar to me.
Because you see, I was once at the other end of this transaction, as a fresh graduate with restless vigour and youthful incertitude, ready to embark on a whirlwind journey to prove myself to the world; a time when the palate of possibilities glistened with such exuberant colours. Those colours however, as I’ve learnt over time, blend with the greyer hues of mundane reality. But I digress. Back to the interview.
Our whimsical protagonist had a request.
“Before you fire your questions, I’d like to fill you in on how I see this role working for me. Would the panel be so kind to grant my wish?”, he quizzically enquired with his thick brows raised and posture slightly lowered. The panel exchanged glances and eventually nodded in approval - there was an unrestrained and Broadway-like performative quality to his demeanour that seemed entertaining, almost inviting.
He took a deep breath, cleared his throat, and exercised his jaw muscles as a singer would do before launching into an operatic solo. This was his moment or at least he clearly wanted it to be.
And finally he delivered his opening lines with a sense of gusto and fluidity not seen in my 7 years at the firm:
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