It might seem a simple task – paying some workers their Christmas bonus. But unfortunately nothing remotely bureaucratic is simple here.
The first thing I had to do was purchase a form from the Ministry of Work. I duly went to the office to be told I had to go and pay the grand sum of $2 in the government bank. My heart sank. The queue at the bank was out the door and round the courtyard. We stood waiting expectantly, advancing in excruciatingly slow mini-steps in the blazing sun. Gradually, inch by inch, I advanced round the courtyard and finally stood outside the door. Big guards clutching even bigger guns frowned at us lowly punters, and eventually waved me inside.
The inside of this bank was painted a dreary brown, matching the mood of most of the people inside. The heat was tremendous, hardly touched by the token fan whirring away in one corner. The smell of sweaty bodies was overpowering and the flies buzzed around us provokingly. As I inched around the curves of the queue, each new step forward was a step towards freedom. At last I reached the fan in the corner and lingered under its welcome breeze for as long as I could before reaching the home straight.
The relief, the joy, of at last being able to deposit that $2 in the bank… clutching my deposit slip fiercely, and with a wide smile on my face I burst out of the bank doors. Back across town in the office they gave me my form – now I “just” had to navigate the ministry of work website to be able to fill it in correctly. (A little help from a friend and a box of chocolates made that task a little easier).
Finally I paid the workers.
I won´t think about what procedure they may think up for when I have to go and hand in the form so that they can check it has all be done correctly.It is nearly Christmas after all.