Friday, September 24, 2010

You'd think a guy who writes a blog for fun wouldn't mind writing reports. Or letters to politicians. Or replies to snarky bureaucrats. But I don't like doing any of those things.

Take the infamous Incident Report for example. I'm not allowed to say things like, "The velvet black sky reflected the golden hue of flames reaching toward the Northern Lights as they consumed the quaint little cottage by the shimmering lake." Yeah, that's sappy and it sounds like the Northern Lights are consuming the cottage, but it's better than the cold, dry, factual jargon required in the world of reporting. Like, "the roof collapsed at 02:13 hrs," or "the crash scene was stabilized at 23:39" or "we established water supply at 13:06 hrs." Reports demand simple, boring statements that tell a simple devastating story.

Sigh. I hate writing reports.

[Side note: Maybe that's why they pile up on my desk until (in an apoplectic report-writing fit) I lock myself in the office and attack them like a rabid wolf on crystal meth.]

Then there is the politician letter. I'm working on a couple of those right now. It would be fun to say, "You idiots are so out of touch that you can't tell a volunteer firefighter from a moose." But that kind of letter doesn't get results. You have to say things like, "We understand the budgetary restraints that accompany the current economic climate, but we hope you agree that the essential role firefighters play in public safety is deserving of more resources than are currently allocated." That kind of talk won't get results either, but at least it isn't as rude as saying "idiot" and "moose."

Sigh. I hate writing politician letters.

The snarky bureaucrat letter is the worst. These guys are driven by paper and statistics and numbers that rarely reflect what is actually happening on the ground. Letters to bureaucrats have to take this into account, and the writer must at least attempt to sound like he or she wants to look good on paper . . . because looking good on paper is all-important to the average bureaucrat. Saying "idiot" and "moose" to bureaucrats isn't a good idea either, by the way. I tried it once a number of years ago (for the record, I didn't use those actual words, but they were indicated in the tone). Months went by and there was no response. Finally, I bumped into the said bureaucrat at a conference. "Why didn't you respond to my letter?" I say. "Letter? What letter?" he says.

Sigh. I hate writing bureaucrat letters too. But with the advent of email communication, somebody has to stimulate the ailing Northwestern Ontario paper industry.

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