“Just so you know, I fund your organization, so when I tell you to do something, I expect you to do it”. No, this was not an elected official. Politicians normally know better than to say such things. That was an appointed Ottawa bureaucrat, and you have guessed it already! The call was not to me (nor to an organization I direct). On the receiving end of the call was a student working on a summer job. “Forward me to someone “actually competent” in your organization”, thundered the bureaucrat. She was in tears.
Elected officials I have encountered –and their family members– are careful about every statement they make. You sometimes feel sorry for them. Even a slightly misplaced word can sometimes be reported and amplified, by the media, by social networks, or what have you. And when they get caught in any sort of indiscretion, a perceived bullying gesture, or a touch of arrogance, they pay, sometimes dearly.
But what about bureaucrats? Many of them so empowered, yet so unaccountable!
Sure, this can be a good learning experience for the young student. A lesson about the imperfections of this world, the “real world” that one encounters out there, a part of life that she should sooner or later get used to. But when I heard that she was again in tears as she was telling the story … 3 full days later… I realized how damaging it can be.
Then came the words of a normally mild-mannered dear friend, who had always had much more wisdom and tolerance than I’m ever capable of: “I hate bullies, especially when they are also idiots who think that the tax payers’ money belong to them”.