This was found written on scrap paper in Paul Alger’s handwriting. I’m not sure what it was written for and there is no date. There are a few notes in pencil (under the pen writing) about the trailer court in Clarkston.


As a career civil service worker (who has also seen many years of struggling in what we call the “outside”), we of the lower echelon sometimes find it very difficult to cope with the new directives and SOP! Which, as regularly as clockwork, come down to us from “topside.”

Being in A/C maintenance, we are continually plagued by parts shortages. In order to get a part for any given a/c, the mechanic (under the old system) must make out a form #122-1/2 GX, which, besides the pertinent info such as part number, stock number and which a/c it is to be used for, he must also give name, date of birth, citizenship status, political status, work order # (of which the mechanic couldn’t care less), why the part is needed, where is the old part, what is wrong with it, can it be fixed before it is needed and if so, why?

I have timed this operation and my findings are that it takes the average mechanic 45 minutes longer to make up this paperwork than it does to remove the old part and install the new one. This is working on the assumption that there are no mistakes in the paperwork and he doesn’t have to do it over again.

“Topside” seems to have the idea that any problem can be solved if they can just get the right type of paperwork. So recently the forms were reversed. The cumbersome old form 122 GX was replaced with the simplified form (requisition/turn in) – form 11-1/2 R. Miraculously, this was a simplified form for the mechanic, as it had less to fill in but being rather skeptical, and being more or less responsible for supply of these a/c, I decided to test this new form myself.

As I had no new forms 11-1/2 R, I laboriously filled out the old form 122-1/2 GX and optimistically ran to the material area. Unfortunately, although these material people are responsible for many millions of dollars worth of material, their pay is such that it attracts something less than high school drop outs.

Nevertheless, I presented my old form 122-1/2 GX to a person who had a body that King Kong would have been jealous of but, unfortunately, had a brain to match.

Conversation follows –

King Kong: sorry, can’t take these any more – gotta have form 11-1/2 R tag it parts now.

Me: I don’t have any blank forms 11-1/2 R. Can you give me one?

KK: Sorry, only got nuff for ourselves, can’t give any out.

Me: How do I get parts without a form 11-1/2 R?

KK: Ya can’t.

Me: How do I get some forms 11-1/2 R?

KK: Beats me Bud, we only got parts here.

Not quite so optimistically, I creep away and a miracle happens!!! I see a blank form 11-1/2 R lying unguarded on a bench!

Very casually I ease to the bench and whistling very tunelessly (to make me seem more casual) I managed to slip the new form 11-1/2 R into my hip pocket, unobserved by anyone except another production controller whom was also looking very casual and easing toward the same bench as he saw the prize disappear into my pocket. He suddenly developed a very wild expression so I immediately left the premises and retired to my desk to fill in the blank spaces on this precious document and get the part I needed so desperately.

As soon as it was completed I again headed for the parts department and I think I could be excused if there was a rather satanic grin on my face.

At the parts counter, I pushed by priceless form 11-1/2 R at … guess who? … King Kong! He gave me the type of look that the original KK would have given the man that he suspected of stealing Beauty from the Beast. In accents I could only describe as “guttural” he shoved the form under my nose and asked, “where ya get dis?”

Putting on my best public relations expression, I hastened to explain (a lie) that I’d gotten one as a sample and had to use it for this request (total cost of part required – 75¢. I might mention here this 75¢ part had now consumed 1.3758 hrs of my time at $4.60-1/4 c per hour).

Conversation follows:

KK: Ya goofed!

Me: (Losing my usual aplomb) How come?!

KK: See here where it says control #?

Me: Yeah.

KK: The # is 186 H and ya got it all in the same block. The 186 goes in this block and the H goes in the little square next to it.

Trying to cover my surprise at discovering that KK could put two sentences together coherently, I apologized profusely and offered to scratch out the offending “H” and put it in its proper square.

KK: Nope. Not allowed to.

Me: (giving up) If this were made out properly, what would happen?

KK: I give ya da part.

Me: Then what do you do with the form 11-1/2 R.

KK: I trow it in the garbage can.

Me: (gaining strength) what if you don’t have the part – what happens to form 11-1/2 R then? (I still had faith in it.)

KK: Den we make out form 2227F which says we ain’t got de part den we trow form 11-1/2 R in da garbage can.

I give up.

Sometimes I’m afraid this river of red tape gets to be a little beyond my __  (kar?? Can’t read the word)

Have you ever seen a grown man cry?