“But I’m a government official!”

One of the businesses I operate occasionally has to do business with the state. The details really don’t matter, but the conversation that I had this morning with a man who works for the government does…

Last night, around 5, I got a call from one of my employees. She had an issue and needed guidance. The local  government wanted to purchase a service from my business. Normally this is worked out beforehand, usually with a phone call or a fax….., but in this case, a person with whom I had never had  prior contact needed wanted those services fairly quickly and outside of “normal” channels. And was insistent. And threatening….So she called me.  (now, note that I have worked outside of normal channels in the past, with people who I have done business with before…..Sometimes things CAN happen with just a phone call….if the relationship is there beforehand)

He wanted me to accept a “voucher”. It has been my sad experience that the “vouchers” are not worth the paper they are written upon, unless the person issuing them is willing to fight to see that I get paid. I have enough unredeemed “vouchers” to paper the walls of my office

Ergo: we don’t accept “vouchers” for payment. We do accept purchase orders drawn on a government account, as I will EVENTUALLY get paid. Or checks on a government account… I suggested the check as an alternative to the unacceptable “Voucher”. Alternatively, I suggested a credit card, either government issued or private, until the issue could be better resolved when all parties were available during “normal” business hours. He didn’t like that idea….. He didn’t get his services. And I thought that this issue was over…

Not so. Complaint after complaint have rolled into my office, and forwarded complaints from the corporate people (it is a franchise). He is pissed that going outside of channels didn’t work for him.

Basically, his issue is that:

A. I did not let him do what he wanted..I did NOT cooperate.

2. I did not want to take a government voucher (which is not a legal document, and not a promise to pay, and not a purchase order, and not worth the paper it is written upon unless someone decided to see that it is paid at some later date…..).

AND:

III.  (and I quote here) “I am a government official and you have to do what I say” .

[Pause to let the laughter and jeers die down] But I must say that when he stated that, I passed nearly a whole cup of (extremely hot) tea through my nose.

Yeah, right. I have to do what some small time county (and not even the county in which the business resides)
government clerk says. I have to provide services with no payment (or promise to pay). Just take HIS orders. With no documentation except a (many times) photocopied form with an illegible signature.

Except that I don’t. And I didn’t. And I won’t.

The sad part is that he was totally serious. He really believed that he had the right to demand goods and services. Demand. Just because he is an “acting” head of XXXXXX

 “You are lucky that I did not get the police involved last night……You’d have gone to jail”.

I really really tried. And tried again. I even took the time to count to 10….Once forwards and once backwards.

Then I suggested that he examine the limits of his petty office….And that he show me where his office had the right or authority to compel goods and services from a private business. And suggested that perhaps next time he involve the police. Perhaps from the beginning. And bring friends. And a lunch…

I did try very hard not to call him a sniveling little nincompoop…and a tiny pissant with delusions of power. I tried to keep the derision out of my voice as I explained to him how little I cared about his office

I tried. Really, I did.

He found out that he isn’t that powerful….And that there are limits to what he can and cannot do

I don’t think that he is happy right now.

But I find his attitude somewhat disturbing.

4 thoughts on ““But I’m a government official!”

  1. Commandeering doesn't work so well at all, let alone in the movies. Look at Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs.

  2. You're a better man than I. I would not (and don't) have the patience with little would-be tyrants.

    I learned the art of insults and blue language from a master in the art of putting people in their place.

    I feel guilty afterwards – sometimes.

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