I have developed into a pretty outgoing person, who over the years has learned to appreciate the value of being outright, open, and sometimes even a little confrontational. Of course people who have known me for a long time still insist that my ‘’diplomatic’’ nature often takes over, but I call it thinking before I speak.
I confront and demand my rights when I am buying something, when someone is cutting in front me at a queue; I may even interfere physically when I see injustice being inflicted on someone (and end up feeling like a modern day hero), and generally I look at myself as a man with a healthy self-esteem.
But where I am still meek, slightly broken, and overwhelmed by a sense of guilt is when I am dealing with any resemblance of bureaucracy. Be it a license renewal, an ID issuance, military papers, notary, even the bank, anything makes me feel like I am demanding what isn’t mine. I enter the day as if I were about to start a dangerous and excruciating mission, and once I am done I feel victorious and above all, grateful. Grateful to the soldier who gives me the stamp that says I may travel, grateful to that grumpy man who has been kind enough to accept my presence in front of his desk, grateful to that lady who has reluctantly tolerated me on a chair next to her desk despite the fact that there aren’t enough customer chairs at the bank. And, if I am not at the bank, then grateful to those that will indicate they may be willing to accept my tips in return for helping me. You should see how I almost stutter and struggle to keep my voice straight and my request short, concise, polite, respectful, and manage to maintain my self-respect in the process.
Then why, you may ask, do you put up with this? My answer is short and sweet; we have been raised in a bureaucracy to understand that rights should not be demanded, they should be asked, begged, and bribed for. Why they may be granted is supposed to be beyond your comprehension and should not be subject to your evaluation or speculation. It should be considered good fortune that may disappear forever if questioned.
So this is why I fear the woman at the bank, because she has the upper hand and I don’t.
P.S: She turned out to be a very helpful and sweet woman after all, could it be because I was very respectful?