03 July 2012

Who Moved My Cheese?

And why did he move it?

I have come to conclude that there is a broader psychological experiment going on; moreover, I and any other person dealing with the Russian bureaucracy is a subject of that experiment.  Someone in a white lab coat is watching us rats grope and grovel our way through an endless maze with continuously changing conditions.  Because there is no predictability, the objective of the experiment appears to be gauging reactions to situations that prevent conditioned learning.  There can be no other rational explanation.

Humbly Yours, Serving the Russian Bureaucracy

The agonizing saga of reimporting my car back into Russia continues.  Twice, I have been rejected by the Transportation Authority.  The second excuse for not processing my paperwork was a masterstroke.

The pencil pusher with seemingly magical powers to either grant me some piece of paper or continue to give me the runaround did the latter:  He rejected my application on the grounds that my Russian automobile insurance had my name in Latin letters and, because he was unable to read Latin letters, he could not be sure that the insurance was in fact in my name.  The argument that my passport number on the insurance form matched the number in my passport and the Latin letters in both documents also matched did have any sway.  

My Cheese:  A Stamped Document from a Bureaucrat

Instead of yielding to common sense, the bureaucrat instructed me to go to a specific insurance kiosk and buy a new policy that inscribed my name in Cyrillic letters.  Once I went there, I suspected that the insurance agent and the Transportation Authority bureaucrat had a kickback agreement - where the agent would reward the bureaucrat for new business.  Disgusted, I refused to go along, went to my original agent to request the change, and wasted another day on this dreadfully inefficient and inane process.

Who Moved My Cheese?

Here is the rub:  Last year, the same guy with the same paperwork did not have any problem giving me the paperwork needed to keep my car in Russia for another year without paying a $15,000 "import" tax.  This year, the game was completely different.  A seemingly random barrier was erected to prevent the job from getting done.  Someone moved my cheese!

Ultimately, the question is why the rules are different this time around?  Is it because bureaucrats are trying to do as little as possible while making a coin on the side?  Or is that explanation way too blatant to be true and, in fact, something grander and sinister is going on?  Could it be that someone is doing a vast experiment, with the subjects being subjects of the Russian bureaucracy, and the premise of the experiment being just how far the subjects could be pushed until the break, play dead, or rebel?

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