Monday, June 18, 2012

HR: The Ninth Circle of Hell

How many circles of Hell are there in Dante's Inferno? Whatever the answer is, you can bet that the whole thing is run by an HR department. Because nobody, nobody, does hell like a professional bureaucracy. 

When I was looking at getting my writing published, I had to submit what is called an Application to Undertake Outside Employment to my current employer, the Queensland Police Service. Or the po-po, as we cool kids call them. This is to prevent a conflict of interest, and I can only imagine that if I put down "Arms dealer and drug king pin" it would have been denied. What I put down though was "writer". I did not expect that to come back denied. 

But it did. Because of insurance. 

"Insurance?" I asked my boss. "They know it's writing, right?" 

And my boss gave me the small, pitying smile of a man who has dealt with HR before. "You just need to do a report," he said. 

"A report?" But a withering look and a curled lip gets you nowhere with a bureaucracy. 

So I did a report. It took me three hours for two paragraphs. Most of that time was spent trying to put my sarcasm back in its box. In the end I had no choice but to let my sarcasm write its own report. 

"There's the report," I told my boss. "And here's the one I really wanted to submit." 

You know, looking back, I kind of wish I'd sent it. 

This post was prescheduled. Holy hell, I got organised! Somebody make a note of the date -- future generations will want to mark the day with some sort of ceremony. 

See you after my holidays! 


  1. I don’t know – writing can be a very dangerous undertaking. You could always break a scene in two, or overstretch your imagination. And you need lots of imagination to understand bureaucracy.

  2. Suffering for your art is more dangerous than you know. All that "wearing your heart on your sleeve" stuff is pretty frickin dangerous. A person could bleed out doing that kind of soul searching type writing. Just sayin'.

    But I think it's the sitting in the spinny chair while sipping red wine that really makes insurance guys sweat over the writer's well-being. Statistic show that we're ten times more likely to get sick and throw up at work than any other demographic.



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