Economist Thomas Sowell said, “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats, procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing” and realising procedural bureaucracy has taken its toll on me this week, I made the decision to redressed the situation with a much needed of a change of scene.
Making my eighty five year old mother my first port of call, I suggested we take a trip into our small market town and, grateful of some quality time together, she was not difficult to persuade. Beautifully presented in an outfit she would have normally kept for best, we set off at a leisurely pace along the high street. Frail with age but still game, my mother clung trustingly to my arm as we negotiated uneven pavements and headed for her favourite supplier of cappuccino and custard pies.
Mother, intent on imparting the finer details of all she had encountered since my visit a few days previously, did not notice the man ahead blocking our progress. Neither did she comment on the scooter he sat astride mid pavement. Scruffy in appearance, lopsided of face and missing an eye there was no escaping the driver’s attentions and I braced myself for an unpredictable encounter while negotiating the dangers of a dilapidated scooter that was nothing short of a health hazard.
Choosing not to step out into the road and instead risking the jagged edges of his vehicle I drew close to the man in question but with eyes fixed firmly at ground level in the interest of my mother’s ankles. Hoping for bland indifference but braced for some level of abuse for squeezing past him rather going round, I was totally unprepared for what happened.
Ancient and broken he leaned into me and whispered as we passed, “I think you are really beautiful” and then, just loud enough for my mother to hear he said, “and I think your sister is too!”
Seeing my mother melt into gleeful revelry at the thought that someone should think we were sisters while in receipt of the first pass either of us had enjoyed in years, was not only the perfect non bureaucratic outcome for our day but most definitely a highlight of my mother’s eighty-fifth year. What’s more the flirtatious devilment of an aged, invalided man proved a keen reminder that, more than anything else, attitude determines whether difficult undertakings have successful outcomes. This lesson was most definitely a ready remedy for me at the end of what has proved to be very taxing HBOS fighting week.