Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dilbert does Development

For a bit of a smile, these descriptions of actual government coworkers from Aid Thoughts, who has been privileged to meet a number of "glorious idiosyncrasies" in various developing country governments where he has been assigned to work:

This morning I walked into the office and found a colleague ironing clothes on her desk.

Last week, a colleague sent me an SMS saying: ‘my office-mate has given up. She has taken two chairs and a cushion and made a bed to sleep in!’

One year ago, in Malawi, during an important meeting setting out a new debt policy, one staff member was assigned the crucial task of keeping track of the score of Malawi’s World Cup qualifying match against Djibouti. We won 8-1.

Here in Zanzibar, I’ve come across similarly eccentric characters. Like the IT support staffer who brought down the entire Ministry’s internet connectivity by unplugging the switch in order to charge his mobile phone. Queried, he answered that he was expecting a call.

While we’re waiting for the reform to kick in ... it would be churlish not to savour the great eccentrics who the civil service so amply supports. When they’re eliminated, work will be that much less interesting.
There's got to be a TV sitcom-spinoff in here somewhere where your favorite The Office character is relocated to Mexico or China or somewhere.

The thing that reading enough Dilbert – and knowing its popularity – tells me is that this really isn’t that unusual. It’s not specific to developing countries, though there’s local flavor. Even in the brave new world where government runs smoothly, these people will work somewhere and do much the same. We’re all human – no better, no worse.

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