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Angie grabbed the invoices she had been working on for the last couple of hours, revised the numbers on each invoice, counted the money she had in a small brown envelope, made sure that she had made no mistakes and then wrote down on a small piece of paper a summary of the amounts that needed to be paid to the cashier’s office at the Beautiful University of Heaven.

“Now I can finally breathe”, she thought to herself on her way to the cashier’s office. “Soon, everything will be over. I can’t believe how time consuming a book sale is. Who would have said that preparing books, getting boxes (begging for boxes), packing books, counting them, transporting them, selling them, advertising for the book sale, connecting with several offices and with several persons to send an e-mail to any community would take more than a week of preparations? Who would have said that counting the books after the book sale, making a list of every item sold and invoices for books sold would take between a day and two? Who would have said that waiting in line at the cashier’s office will equal in its length the whole week of preparations?”

She took a deep breath and walked slowly but firmly up the stairs from her office to the open-air. In a few minutes, she said to herself: “I will be in the light.  In a few minutes, I will be able to take off my sweater to finally feel the warm breeze” and then another thought popped in her head: “in a few minutes also, I will be waiting in line at the cashier’s office where there is no AC but just an open shaded hot space.” She took a deep breath, made sure she had the invoices and the brown envelope firmly pressed in her hand, and kept walking.

Angie had been a few times before to the cashier’s office and each time she had some unpleasant uninteresting intimidating experience. She would go into the office, get a coupon, find a free seat and wait. The coupon was an automatic one, it was designed in a way to “better serve” the  clients at the cashier’s office, but she never felt that this system was serving her in any different way than any other system. In fact, when she would enter the cashier’s office, she would be greeted by a tall machine, with some white signs hanging all around written manually and highlighted in green. On the screen of the coupon machine, she would have to choose between several options, but none of these options would meet her requirements. These options were:

– Tuition fees

– Transcript

– Cap and Gown & Other Payments

– Insurance

– Salaries

– Checks

After reading carefully each option, Angie would normally choose the third option: “cap and gown & other payments” and would ask herself afterwards if she made the right choice. She would stare at the coupon machine for a while afterwards before deciding to stop thinking about these options and to simply move forward. She would look for an empty seat, and would also look at the number above each counter in order to decide on how long she would have to wait for her turn to come.

A couple of weeks ago, when she had to pay some invoices for some book sales, she had to wait and wait for her turn (which never came). She remembers clearly that one day, she took the wrong coupon and had to wait for almost two hours to pay the invoices. Another time, she kept her attention on the 4th counter where she usually pays invoices and then suddenly without any notice, she missed her turn. In fact, she didn’t miss it; her turn never came, her number was never called. Fortunately she was paying attention to the counter and she had the reflex and especially the courage to stand up, to walk to the counter and to tell the man behind the desk that her number wasn’t called.

Today, when she reached the cashier’s office, the waiting room was empty to Angie’s surprise. She took a coupon and had a seat. She even took a document she has been trying to read and edit for the last couple of weeks and started reading. She didn’t have to wait for too long, after greeting Mr. Hortail, the assistant cashier who was sitting comfortably on his chair and drinking his coffee, she handed him the invoices, the summary and the brown envelope. He seemed to be upset or unhappy to process 6 invoices. He would have wished she would hand him one or even two invoices. He probably never understood why she had to make so many invoices, and he asked her about the account to use to enter these invoices. She explained that 4 invoices would go on one account, one invoice on another account and a last invoice on a 3rd account. He asked her to speak with one of his colleagues in order to inquire about the other two accounts. His colleague happened to have his office just across the empty waiting room in a place called “the student section”. She walked to the student section, stood in front of a large glass, and waited for someone to talk to her. There were probably 4 or 5 persons in the room across, chating and talking. She waited patiently after all, a glass separated her from the employees in the student section. One of the employees was eating, another one was sitting on his colleague’s desk, 2 or 3 others were in different places, Angie could feel their presence because of their voices. The man she was looking for was not in front of his desk or even in his office. His colleague wasn’t there also. Papers and files were all over the place, and Angie thought to herself, I wonder how these offices would look like if one takes some time to organize everything in them. And then she thought to herself after waiting for a few minutes, “how does anything get done in this institution? Don’t these people have anything to do? Do they only work when their boss is around? Do they only get things done when they have to ? Do they spend their entire day in these offices talking and eating? What is going on?”

Finally, someone noticed Angie’s presence. After greeting him politely, she asked him about his colleague. He told her that he wasn’t at his office and that he would be back very soon, in 2 minutes. She looked again at the counter and another person has taken her turn. She took a deep breath and wondered why she had left her unedited document lying on that counter. A few minutes, later, one of the persons chating, who also happened to be a manager at the cashier’s office, interfered based on his colleague’s suggestion. She asked him what Mr. Hortail had asked her to inquire about, which was the possibility of using the same account for all the invoices. He mumbled something behind the glass that Angie couldn’t hear and then he handed the papers to Mr. Halley, the one that Angie had originally come to see. Mr. Halley seemed to be concerned and he disappeared leaving Angie standing there behind the glass lost in her thoughts.

(ummm… I will stop now… I hope you enjoyed reading this part 🙂 )

Thank you 🙂