Art of Bureaucracy: Doors Closing

Art of Bureaucracy: Doors Closing

Doors Closing
Acrylic on Canvas (2014)

Late for work. Red line single tracking. Escalator out of order. Next train: 20 minutes.

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Art of Bureaucracy: The Commute

Painting about taking the bus to work in DC

The Commute
Acrylic on Canvas (2013)

Late for work, the analyst stands in the rain awaiting the S1. His smartphone says it’s due ten minutes ago. He is without umbrella. The analyst gives it five more minutes, then five more minutes, then five more minutes, and finally there it is, a block away and approaching fast. He pulls his SmarTrip card from his wallet and steps to the curb. Here comes the bus, and there it goes, barreling past without so much as a shrug from the driver. The analyst thinks he sees the assholes who couldn’t be bothered to move to the back to make room flick him off as the bus speeds by, but then again that could just be a trick of the rainwater running down his glasses. He waits another five minutes, then another five minutes, then flags down a cab, getting in just in time to watch an empty S1 pull up to his stop and let everyone on.

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Fiction: Shelter in Place

(A firsthand account from a whistleblower who really opened the floodgates.)

I work at the Ministry of Culture, albeit in the Financial Reporting division. Ask me what it is I do there and I’ll point you to a spreadsheet. Weekly grant dispersal figures for government cultural promotion programs need tabulating, proposals need documenting. I got a master’s for this. Spreadsheets are so important that I give up one full day a month to training, that is, learning how to make spreadsheets prettier, or sometimes just to do basic math functions. I work past six most days, passing the extra hour by doing the sudoku. Tina says face time is everything. Continue reading

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The Art of Bureaucracy: The Pearl

The Pearl by the Washington Bureaucrat

The Pearl
Acrylic on Canvas (2013)

Unable to fire him thanks to red tape and a debilitating fear of confrontation, the agency (“oyster”) opts instead to isolate the irritant (“bureaucrat”) from the rest of the organism. By walling him off with cushy benefits (“resources”), over time the oyster creates a pearl. Some pearls have been known to idle away at their desks for decades with nary an assignment. In the era of LinkedIn, an occasional diver (“the private sector”) may purport to recognize the “value” of the pearl, at first stringing it along with a series of phone screens before dumping it back in the ocean with a promise to keep its resume on file.

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Fiction: GAO (A Halloween Horror Story)

The incantations of a cranky Congress spell terror and doom for the hapless bureaucrats upon whom fall the wrath of the watchdog unchained by the elected 535. Read the story if you’ve got the guts.


On Friday at 4:59 everyone goes home for the weekend. Everyone, that is, except for the people on the alternative work schedule. They have Friday off altogether.

On Monday at 9:01 everyone comes back to the office. Everyone, that is, except for the people whose flex day it is. They have Monday off altogether.

Lingering in the hallway an hour later on the way back from breakfast, everyone wants to know how everyone’s weekend was.

“Good!” say some.

“Well!” say others who unfortunately attended last week’s GrammarCram and are now overcorrecting everything.

It is then that the intern walks by carrying a pile of papers to the secure recycling receptacle.

Everyone shuts up and stares. Somebody screams. Unaccustomed to being acknowledged, the intern freaks out. He throws the papers into the air and scurries back to the supply cabinet that serves as his place to sit for the summer. Continue reading

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The Art of Bureaucracy: The Bureaucrat

The Futility and Tedium of the Modern Office Bureaucrat

The Bureaucrat
Acrylic on Canvas (2012)

Painted during a period of prolonged internet outage, this faceless, featureless portrayal of the modern office bureaucrat captures the futility and tedium of sitting in a sterile cubicle all day having to check the weather app on an iphone if one wishes to know whether it is raining. Too bad there is no reception at the office. Note the dominating presence of the blue screen of death and the absence of economic incentives. Lean in for a closer look.

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