..out of something relatively trivial?
So what if DLSU Manila's Accounting Office do not accept debit payments for charges which are P500 or less.
So what if I had to withdraw cash at an ATM machine conveniently located just outside the office.
So what if - when I asked the second time if they accept cash - the accounting staff implied "no" yet did not give me a straightforward negative response and instead asked me to wait while he proceeded to serve the other customers who are in line. I do not understand why I sighed in mild irritation & decided to withdraw cash just to get things over and done with.
(Note to self: I wonder why I used the word "customers" when I was actually referring to students - though it does feel like I am in a Globe Business Center than inside the University Registrar. I also felt - while waiting in line at the Accounting Office - that I was purchasing grocery and not paying for academic forms. )
In hindsight, I was already mildly annoyed when I entered the Accounting Office that I failed to notice the writing desk situated at the center of the room which has a ready pen resting atop it. Instead, I proceeded to grab the pen lying on an accounting staff's desk as if I owned it and as if the staff who was sitting there owed me something. Prior to this, I was at the Registrars office waiting for my number to be called. When the number I was holding flashed on the screen, I was assisted by a smiling highly informed staff who expertly knows to a T the processes of where to get what form/from whom/how much/ and when.
I still do not know why I should be angry when everything is obviously so efficiently run like a well-oiled machine.
There are even easy-to-understand signs of where one should stand, sit or wait when paying for which/ asking for what or talking to whom that it is virtually impossible for anyone to make a mistake as university staff make sure everyone is guided as to where one is supposed to be and what one should expect.
The appropriate signs alone do the job just as dutifully that one instantly has no choice but to know their place in that world.
Also, the process of distinguishing what one is supposed to do and not do is made easy, accessible and so in-your-face that it is easy to feel ashamed if ever he or she fails to do so.
The system has allowed any deviation to be clearly and obviously evident that any slight aberration is immediately seen and judged as that - if ever such a thing occurs, one instantly becomes a walking, living, breathing red flag.
There are also metal detectors at the university gate entrance.
Book thievery detectors - akin to metal detectors found in malls - and an ID scanner are positioned at the entrance and exit doors of the university library. There are also railings, police-line-like tapes to guide you where to walk, where to proceed or where to stop when asked to.
The system makes sure everyone is properly accounted for.
The service is 99.99% seemingly efficiently excellent.
A kind Discipline officer even went out of the Discipline Office and chased after me despite me receiving a response from him that our transaction was completed - to which I appropriately thanked him for. He explained and made sure he corrected himself when he mentioned that I should expect the form I requested tomorrow - not in the morning he clarified but in the afternoon. He further made clear that the reason for this is because I submitted my request late in the evening. I thanked him eagerly and wanted to tell him that I will retrieve the form next week because it was not needed until next month so it wasn't such a big deal, but I didn't. I was so hungry I just wanted to get out of there and eat dinner.
Suddenly, I had the feeling that the system is eager to give everyone good service not because it wants to but because it is afraid not to.
It is as if the system wants everyone to not complain, to have no reason to complain.
The system does not want to have any faults.
The system wants itself to be perfect, un-flawed, ideal. Smooth.
Now, who does not want that to happen?
Who does not want to see someone be reprimanded by the system when he or she unfairly cuts in a long line of students waiting to have their turn at the Registrar's window? - which my father did when he was in a hurry to pass my application years ago.
Who in their right mind does not want to remove the possibility of anyone cutting in line in the first place? - which I sometimes do (and I wonder who else doesn't?)
Who wants to see library books stolen? (which a friend and I did at our Catholic elementary school - she stole a book on Lola Basyang & I stole a book on Snoopy)
Who does not want to hear that XYZ form would be available at this time and voila - it is!
The system wants to give excellent service not because it wants to but because it is afraid of the consequences if it doesn't.
Now, why should I be angry about that?
The system also expects that everyone keep in line so that everything will flow smoothly with no hitches. "It is for us as much as it is for you" the system seems to say.
Now why should I be angry about that?
Is it because in the "real world" that exists outside the university, such efficiency does not exist? Is everyone then being set up to be frustrated once they leave the confines of that academic world?
But isn't such a system already existing in the `real world' now? - albeit less efficient but it is trying to appear & make you think that it is.
Isn't such a system patterned from commercial establishments?
The organized efficiency I saw seemed to eerily echo the same kind of service from dutiful SM/Puregold/Landmark cashiers. The only difference is the flash of fear I see from the faces of hapless / submissive SM/Puregold/Landmark cashiers / baggers - if ever someone complains - is absent in the faces of the university's dutiful staff.
Instead, what is present is a kind of formalized tension swept under a veneer of self-preserving authority.
The fear present in cashiers and baggers are mixed with the hope and personal affirmation that "I can handle this" or "My manager / supervisor can handle this" or the unspoken "Please-don't-make-me-lose-my-contractual-job-just-because-I-placed-bread-inside-the-plastic-bag-first-and-not-the-1kg-brown-sugar" fear.
University staff have no such anxiety. What is present is the self-assured vibe that they will never fuck up. "Maybe you will, but not us." But all the same, "We are deathly afraid if ever we do but we make sure no one finds out, not even you."
Is John Cleese right when he said: "I think there's much more fear now than there used to be, much more fear of failure"? Sure, John Cleese is not from here. He is white, he is an Englishman living in America. How would he know what our system is like?
But see, the kind of system large Philippine commercial institutions are doing their best to emulate in order to be considered "world-class" are those which come from first world countries - the kind where John Cleese is from. He has most likely seen and experienced what we're now doing our best to understand and live with - institutionalized control.
The system is afraid we are not conscious or self-aware enough to discipline ourselves, so they think they have to.
Is there a lot of fear now because there's a lot at stake?
For people who have no choice but to work in the system, what is at stake is their job - their source of income and livelihood.
But what's in stake for the system?
"..Those of you who have been through college know that the educational system is very highly geared to rewarding conformity and obedience; if you don't do that, you are a troublemaker. So, it is kind of a filtering device which ends up with people who really honestly (they aren't lying) internalize the framework or belief and attitudes of the surrounding power system in the society. The elite institutions...and the small upscale colleges, for example, are very much geared to socialization...most of what goes on there is teaching manners; how to behave like a member of the upper classes, how to think the right thought, and so on."