There is a lady sitting alone in a room with no windows, looking at an old telephone, waiting for someone to call. She grants booble permits, and you are trying to buy a booble.
But the secretary lost her number, and nobody talks to her at lunch, so nobody knows what she does.
She gives the booble permits! And people need boobles!
Don’t they? You met a guy who makes boobles, and he didn’t know anything about permits.
Everyone at the booble factory is busy making boobles, but nobody knows who gives out the permits, and no one has the number. You get someone from the factory on the phone, but they don’t know where you could buy a booble.
The city told you that you need a permit, and gave you this number to get the permit, but the guy on the phone assures you that a permit isn’t necessary. But no, he doesn’t know where you could buy a booble. So he tells you to call Inventory, but Inventory tells you they’re not allowed to tell you if they have any boobles in stock… but if they did, they couldn’t sell it to anyone without a permit. But they don’t know how to get a permit, either.
But then, you say, “But if I did have a permit, how much would it cost?”
The guys in Inventory have no idea – they say you should talk to Sales. But the city says that boobles are free to all citizens! But Inventory says they’re definitely not, and the people making the boobles don’t really even know what they’re for.
Have you ever had something like that? Maybe not with boobles, since they don’t exist (do they?), but maybe with something else. So often we are defeated by bureaucracy, as they tip the scales of costs and benefits to favor the act of walking away. And usually we do walk away. Without hope, or happiness, or satisfaction, or a booble.
Or a permit for one.
And that lady in the room with no windows and a telephone that never rings, who always eats lunch alone? She weeps into her sandwich every single day, and she doesn’t even know why.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
All you need to do is Find Bob.
About 3 years ago I was trying to get recycling at our building. I’d heard there was a by-law requiring that all residences have access to recycling, but when I called the city, they told me that there wasn’t a by-law, but all buildings should have recycling bins, and there could be a fine. They were going to put a report in, but then saw that my building did have recycling service with Waste Management.
But when I called Waste Management, they told me that having recycling service wasn’t a requirement! Then they told me our building’s account hadn’t been set up, and that we’d need a site assessment, but couldn’t tell me how much the service would cost, or if they charged for a site assessment.
Then the City told me that they don’t fine for finding recyclables in landfill. They could fine if recyclables were found in the compost bin, but not in the landfill — only Recycle BC could fine people for that.
Then Recycle BC asked why I was under the impression we didn’t have recycling service, because we were on Waste Management’s pickup area!
The Lady at Recycling BC seemed to be at a loss; she briefly put me on hold and returned with “Let me pass you onto my friend Bob.”
Up until this point, I was starting to think that no one was looking at the same spreadsheet. But then I found Bob. And once I spoke to Bob I realized that they were all looking at the same spreadsheet — it was just that no one knew how to read it. No one but Bob.
Because Bob immediately figured out that our account was with an associated address, which was the reason why Waste Management couldn’t find an account for our address, but why the City and Recycle BC had us listed as receiving service. Someone stole our blue bin, and it wasn’t replaced, because most building management companies aren’t really paying attention to that kind of thing. And when Waste Management comes by and there’s no bin for a few weeks in a row, they take it off the list. “But,” Bob assured me, “They didn’t close the account – because they can’t do that without my permission.”
And even though the City didn’t know if it cost money, and that Waste Management said it’s an open market and we’d be charged, neither residents, homeowners, nor property managers pay a fee — because it’s funded by paper and packaging companies!
Thus, Waste Management was getting paid, so they assumed we’d be charged (which I suppose is a reasonable assumption: “Well, somebody’s paying us! We assume it’s you guys…!”). What this meant was that Bob could fix anything without anyone else’s approval.
But not only did he fix everything in about 4 minutes, he also pre-emptively dealt with a couple of potential problems in the future by recommending we get a lock and chain to deter future thieving.
And with all that, we had a blue bin at our building in about 5 days.
It was only a few months ago, that I was buying old-fashioned chocolate milk at the grocery store. As I was packing my groceries I noticed the guy behind me in line advise the cashier that he would unpackage his purchases before he left, so that he could recycle them in the store, since he didn’t have recycling in his building.
I had to intervene. “Do you live in Vancouver?”
“Then you should have recycling.”
“Are you sure? Because I live in the downtown east-side. I don’t think they bother with us.”
I tell him about Bob, and how I managed to get a blue bin at my place, when I lived above the comic book store; I see a glimmer of what I felt, back when I was talking to Bob. I give him Bob’s direct line at Recycle BC and tell him to give it a try. I hope that Bob still works there, and that he didn’t mind my giving out his direct line. I didn’t think he would because he seemed to have been so glad to have solved mine. It seemed like the hurdle for him was to find the people that needed his help. He was the old lady in the room with the phone that wouldn’t ring, because no one knew her number. But Bob doesn’t just have the booble permits, he can give you one, and they are free. And so are the boobles, if you’ve got a permit (which he will give you, because everyone’s entitled to a booble). He knows who to ask to get the booble, and he can have it delivered to your door. He’s glad that you’re going to get your booble, and that you took the time to try. Because Bob cares, and he’s glad that you care, and he’s glad that he could help. Because he’s Bob. And that’s what he does.