Thursday, June 09, 2005

Cicak in the office

It is often frustrating to find that the university often place the most irritating characters in their service counters. These include such crucial student ammenities such as the treasury and the registeration offices. These 'cicaks' (geckos) which I termed as they are often ellusive, slick and frustrating to get hold of moreso to reason with, often causes a simple procedure requiring 5 minutes to turn into a blood boiling obstacle course that makes you want to throttle the said person right there on the spot.

In the past during the undergrad days I remember having to ford countless body packing hours trying to get my registration done or to even pay my fees. Once they announce that the examination slips are out you'll see the whole herd of students rush into the tiny One Stop Center (the name is a misnomer as you need to travel to several far flung places to complete a single transaction) and cram like sardines to reach the 3 itsy bitsy counters (of which 2 are often not operational) which caters to a student population of thousands, efficient? There is the bendahari (treasury) counter lady which I like to call tiger lady because she often is more bark than substance compensating her inefficient work ethics through her loud ominous voice. She'll happilly sit there on her nice plush chair as a long line of students wait in front of her as she happily talks to her 'sayang' on the university phone without flinching or acknowledging your presence. When she is done sweet talking to whoever her sayang is on the other end she'll look at you as if she wishes to devour you in one go and barks out 'Apa lu mahu?' (What do you want?). When she cannot control the crowd she'd just shout outloud and say 'Apa kamu semua buat ini, biadap betul macam tiada orang ajar budi bicara!' (What are you all up to, very rude as if no one has taught you all manner). Well if we all have any right to be 'rude' it's due to the fact that;

a) Your registration department at Hal Ehwal Pelajar (HEP) (student affairs department) screwed up not once but every single semester as the thousands of dollar software kept on registering your first semester courses for every subsequent semester and you're force to rectify it.

b) You open your counters, which never number more than 3 to cater to a thousand plus students within the period of one week whereby students are deemed free enough to line up for hours and to take in your abuse without compulsion.

c) You are forced to make meaningless trips first to your school to check whether the computer has listed you as a debtor even if you've already paid your fees and the department upstairs are slow in updating your info, go and line up at the registration counter to check your debt and get your payment form, go to the bank and get a receipt showing you don't owe anything else, go back and line up again to get your slip printed.

d) You force people to cram into a itsy bitsy room to change your slip since there will definitely be mistakes thanks to the ever so helpful registration department, wait for hours to an indifferent counter person which takes enjoyment in seeing you squirm as you wait and makes you wait for the heck of it.

It's really a blessing never to have to go through that again.

Yet even the curse of inefficient bereaucratic bumbling is not over in the post graduate years. Registering for my second semester of masters proved this point. On Tuesday going up to the chancellery which we often joked is situated up on the highest hill in campus so students without transport are discouraged to make the hike up and complain, there is this singular cicak in the counter that never seems to do anything right.

Even his face looks like a cockroach, all thin and gaunt, with a smile and moustache that makes you feel all slimy and squirmy. He looks harmless enough, that is until you have to deal with him. I often look out for chances when he is not manning the counter as the other two workers there are more helpful but when situation is that he's the only one there to deal with, woe be us. So we were going to get our forms on this particular day and when we saw that it was him we all groaned and knew it was going to be a hassle. Two of my colleagues were attending a seminar for the week and won't have time to get the forms in person, thus we explained the situation and were told no matter what they have to come in collect it in person. Asked the reason he said the department was afraid that 'outsiders' would misuse the forms they appropriated and register in as students, which didn't make sense at all and more so as we have to pay the fees beforehand before we can get te form. Who in the right mind would pay RM1000 and hand it to a stranger for that sense! Next we asked that if they cannot register this week there is a penalty of RM117 and we asked who would be responsible for that, he said it would be no problem as he would personally guarantee it but when asked if we were forced to pay would he be held responsible? He just shut up after that. So we went away without the forms but later when we were heading back we saw that another kak was at the counter so we asked if we could get the forms, she happily handed it to us without any trouble. Comes cicak again asking if he can be any help, we just smiled and said no and went away laughing.

10 comments:

hcfoo said...

I had the same experience again this morning. I was at the service counter and one of them just ask me to wait. And I waited for about 10 minutes just because the person in charge is on the phone in another room. These ladies don't have the enthusiasm and drive at all. They are just hopeless. I think the move of the government to reduce work days to five days is going to train them to become more lazy.

Adrian said...

Kervin... really ah that bad? You gotta be efficient, not wait for them to be efficient.

Somehow I dont remember ever having to do any of those things while we were both still undergrads there. You poor thing, they just hate you lah. ;)

myra_baiduri7 said...

i thot u r really going to talk about the real cicak....

but...ACTUALLY... this "cicak"...

mmulibra said...

Arrr... bring back some bad memories about UKM..

Once got scolding from an officer just because I refer him as "awak" instead of "encik".. so much of privatization where every student is a customer and important source of revenue for the University.

Kervin said...

hcfoo: I think the hemat campaign and smile campaign has worn off, maybe they need an injection of projac to make them feel more perky.

Adrian: Heck you got friendly with all the bigshot and need to know people, us grunts have to slog it through.

myra_baiduri7: Hehe a lot of different kind of cicak out there;)

mmulibra: they can privatize the institutions but the people there are still the same ones, students as customers. they treat us like we're a nuisance rather than people paying for a service, spend more than half the time stuck in the admin rather than studying at times it seems.

Jeremy said...

So if you're running the place what are you going to do about it?

Kervin said...

Jeremy: I'm not an administrator but there are a few practices that even common sense can solve, such as doing away with the OMR registeration form by simplfying procedures so that students don't have to hunt around for signatures, opening extra counters during peak registeration to speed things up, hire competant IT workers to sort out the bugs as soon as they appear, batch process forms and not individual registeration etc. If the admin are good our network won't be down quite so often or that rampant virus attacks and hacker intrusions would've been solved long ago.

Adrian said...

If I was running the place first thing I will sack all of them, hire an expensive consultant, squander the moolah on my new 120ft yacht, stow the rest of the moolah in an obscure offshore bank, then fake my death and disappear...

Kerv: The ends justify the means. I just did what was needed to get things done. Nothing personal at all. Too bad 99% of the population didnt know what to do... And as I told my bosses before, pay peanuts and you get monkeys. If I knew more than I did, they cant afford me. Looks like your university cant afford anything more than peanuts...

Jeremy said...

The idea, if I'm not mistaken, is to have monkeys be as productive as horses. McDonalds managed it.

Adrian said...

Jeremy: I agree with you. Just as how Microsoft managed to sell software. Or how Google stole the search engines. But we are much better off thinking of them as freaks, rather than thinking that we could emulate them... Well, unless your name is Gates, Page or Brin... :)