Monday, 2 March 2009

Screwing up the system

Living and working in British Columbia, Canada as I do, in many opinions (Including mine) one of the greatest places on Earth, and populated in the main by some lovely people. Their generally positive attitude never ceases to amaze and amuse both Mrs S and I. We're even getting used to the humour.

In particular, Mrs S and I even get on well with the folks at the immigration and tax offices. Two officers in particular seem to look after us personally, and have been about as helpful as public servants can get. Despite the monolithic look of the immigration process, when you get up close, you find it's made up of people. Specifically Canadians, who are famed for their polite correctness (Although gangland Vancouver and Toronto are notable exceptions). In our experience you only get the "No you can't" stonewall attitude from the semi automated call centres. Ergo, we take time out from our working days to go and talk directly to experienced officials who know what they are talking about, and whose word enforces the immigration and tax laws.

Asking nicely, for us at least, has often brought a positive outcome, so long as you are ready to meet officialdom at least half way. Especially in our little corner of BC where everyone knows everybody. However, I suspect the big city guys might see things differently.

At some stage Mrs S and I intend to invite our helpful folks over for a party when our immigration papers finally get processed. You can't let the officials in question know this of course, because that would be trying to unduly influence or corrupt a public official. That would be illegal.

Being the sweet natured and sentimental old fool that I am, I do think that rewarding helpfulness is a good thing. Positive behaviour should engender positive outcomes. Your simple people skills should tell you that. Shouting and hectoring doesn't work unless on the truly subservient, and public servants, despite the nomenclature, should never be treated as servile. It just puts their backs up, and is almost always counter productive, human psychology being what it is. Treat someone like an arse and they will respond in kind, if not to you, then to the next poor zeeb who crosses their path. If confronted by opposition, you can either figuratively throw shit about like some petulant teen, which covers everyone and causes all sorts of annoyance and unhappiness, or be grown up, helpful and smooth the way, which lowers almost everyone's stress levels. Apart from psychotic misanthropes who are only truly happy when everyone else is as miserable as they are.

Thus it was, on one particular occasion recently we were confronted by an issue when Mrs S and I went to visit Service Canada. Previously, Mrs S had some documents 'seized' by a customs official when we were at the border getting my work permit. Getting a work permit means getting a written offer of a job and the time and content of the advert, taking a correctly filled in form, note of National Occupation Code for your job, copies of bank statements, positive Labour Market Opinion and all that jazz out of Canada, reaching the US side of the border, turning around and heading back up to Canadian customs (Called 'doing a flagpole' by the US Customs guys) after getting a slip to say you'd been to the US border post. Then you present your documents to the officials at immigration to apply for the Work Permit. We were given a receipt for our seized documents, but firmly told that because of immigration rule changes it would be an offence to use said documents. Later on, a rather embarrassed official (One of our 'helpful' people) told us; "Oh, they shouldn't have done that. You can carry on using the reference." A-hem.

Turns out that with regard to this particular document, which Mrs S had been issued with long before she and I got hitched; you only ever get given one. You cannot be issued with another, as, to directly quote one red faced official "It would really screw up the system.".

Being the people we are, we shook hands cordially, and walked away with apologies ringing in our ears. Outside, Mrs S and I exchanged grins. We felt another little step on our journey had just been completed.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails