There are two kinds of people I loathe. One, the ones who don't work and make money for themselves. Two, the ones who work but do not do their job properly. Our Indian Government offices are a perfect example of the latter. Yesterday was a day that I would never forget in my life. I missed going to office, did not complete the task I was expected to do in the interim, missed lunch, and then came back home with a deadly migraine.
A few days ago, my husband and I decided to get our passports renewed as it just a few months away from the expiry date. When we started off the process online, we were thrilled. All you had to do is create an account, download a PDF, update your data in it, save it in the format of an XML, upload it, make a payment and choose a time-slot for the verification of the documents at a nearest passport center. It was done in under ten minutes for each of us. We were impressed with how much the process has improved and thought that half the battle was won. Thankfully, both of us got the same time slot too, Monday 12.45 to 1 pm. Expecting it to be done quickly, both of us sent a mail to our respective work places saying that we would connect after 2 pm and left home by 10.30 to beat the traffic and make it on time.
We reached there by 11.15 and saw a long queue. Still, having made it ahead of time we thought that our work would get done quick as well. Boy, were we wrong or what! There were close to 200 odd people in the queue. We thought that people are going in based on their position in the queue. After standing for more than an hour the security guard comes in and asks the 11 am slot guys to walk in. The 11 am slot people were asked to walk in at 12.15 pm! Turns out, the queue did not matter and nor did the slot. After forty minutes, the 11.15 slot guys were asked to walk in. There was no system and the order did not make sense at all. By the time we were asked to walk in, it was 2.15. Our slot was at 12.45 and we got our turn at 2.15! Still, clinging on to hope and bearing the mountain of work in our minds we made it to the first counter. They checked our documents and verified it. Just to be safe, Cal and I had carried every possible proof with us. A copy and a original. Once all our documents were approved at the first counter and we got a token number, we took a breath of relief and imagined the rest to be a cakewalk.
We couldn't be more wrong.
After the initial verification, turns out there are three more rounds of verification. A, B and C counters they are called. My token number was 302 and Cal's was 310. The counters and the token numbers are displayed on the screen at the waiting hall and you should walk in to your respective counter. While the A counter got done pretty quick, the B counter was at token number 150. It was past 3 pm by then and we had given up hopes of going back home and connecting to work. After informing our colleagues that we'll not to be able to work for that day, we sat down to wait. We hadn't eaten lunch and we were exhausted. After munching on some small snacks available there, we just sat there doing nothing for a couple of hours awaiting our turn. Finally after 5 pm, the B counter displayed my number and I walked in to the allocated counter. The government official at the desk started looking at my documents like he was doing me a favor. My current address proof was a copy of the HR letter from my company. This was approved at the first two counters, but this man rejected it and asked me to come again. I showed him the original soft copy from my company on my phone and yet he marked my application as no address proof and asked me to come again next week with a hard copy of the HR letter.
After six hours of being cooped up in a same place, I was asked to come again and repeat the same charade a week later. Disappointment was too small a word for what I felt back then. When the first two counters check my documents earlier in the day, why didn't they tell me then that a soft copy was not enough? Aleast I could have gone back to work then. Hungry and battling a severe migraine, I sat back in the waiting hall for Cal to get done. Luckily after going back and forth for what seemed like a million copies of proofs, his application got approved. By the time we got out of that wretched place, it was past 6 pm. The slot given to us was from 12.45 to 1 pm and by the time we got done it was 6 pm and that too only one of us were able to submit it successfully.
I do agree that they were following the rules and they needed a hard copy of my address proof. Alright. But when did they take so long to let me know that? Four rounds of verification for the same set of documents is painful enough, the least the officials can do is be polite. This is the biggest problem I have with people working in a Government office. They do not know how to behave. Right from the security guard who kept yelling at the crowd when the miss was clearly from their end. Why give specified slots to people when you cannot keep it up? Instead it should have been a first come first serve basis. People with 11 am slots who came in at 1 pm went in directly because that was the slot going on at that time. The rest of us in the queue were left gaping at them like idiots!
The people seated at the counters are no less. They don't even look at your face and snatch the documents from your hand and browse through them. If any questions are to be asked, they ask it in their rudest tone while still not looking at you. Then, they throw back the documents at you. I understand that it is our need and we need them at that point. But it is their job to do that and they should do it well. Being rude doesn't help anybody. When the man at the B counter put my application on hold, I was not upset because of that. I was more upset because of the way he spoke. He was very rude and did not have the decency to talk to a woman. He just threw the application back at me and before I could ask what the issue was, he was calling the next applicant in with his index finger. Trust me, I wanted to stab him that very instant.
Government offices have always disappointed me. Right from the RTO to the passport office. It pains me that I have to go back there again. Sadly, I have no other choice.
Tell me, have you faced such issues before?