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True Stories by Steve Keely
Hobo Memoirs

20-Nov-06
The Businessman and the Bureaucrat

The businessman and the bureaucrat each get up early every morning and work all day to return to their families. The success of the businessman depends on his intellect, observations, decisions, experience and productivity. The success of a bureaucrat depends on getting to work on time, not making waves along the command chain, and antiquity. In short, the businessman is autonomous, and the bureaucrat is punished for autonomy.

This morning I stepped into the local college where an old peer dragging on his cigarette greeted me, ‘Another hot one out there.’ I answered, ‘No, not really. It’s cooled down and will be a nice day.’ ‘Well,’ he groused, glaring out the window at a shaded thermometer, ‘It’s 113 degrees at 9am.’ I replied politely, ‘Yes, and I’m going for a walk.’ So I did, for two hours with ankle weights.

I made the choice three years ago to break from this college as the evening supervisor of the tutoring center. The administration made the mistake of over-paying me, so I started an anonymous scholarship with the excess 20% for needy, aspiring students. Word leaked out that there was a troublemaker aboard and I was summoned with frowns. I learned that the links of a bureaucratic chain try to shake off achievers. After this and a dozen similar flares of individuality, I left with this thought to share.

A businessman manipulates you to buy his product or his ideology with sound reasoning, and if he fails then he takes the loss. A bureaucrat tries to force you to obey or to get out. It takes a dancer to tightrope walk the chain of bureaucracy, and I commend the few who can balance out there. Personally, I’d rather hike.

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