Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When the Investigator Calls

In March I moved my office to another suite in the same building. Due to all of the issues involved in moving, as well as my genetic disinclination to seek permission to act according to my own judgment, I did not obtain an occupancy permit from the city for my new location.

About a month ago a thug "investigator" (that is the title on his card) from the city paid me a visit to inquire about said permit. He promptly informed me that failure to obtain an occupancy permit could result in a fine of $2,000. I thanked him for the threat, which he later repeated when he handed me a citation. I also thanked him for his role in stimulating the economy, but I think the sarcasm simply bounced off his sanctimonious back.

In a remarkable display of technological prowess, the city does not allow us to apply for these permits online. We must drive downtown, where we are allowed to sit in an office while city worker's gab about the television program they watched previous night. When I was finally called to submit my application, the rotund clerk chastised me for signing the document with a red pen. Even though she had 2 pens sitting between us, she refused to allow me to use one to fill out another application. Fortunately, another slave citizen allowed me to use his. Upon the completion of the "interview" and my surrender of $210, I was allowed to return to reality.

As I awaited my inspection, I was in quite a quandary. According to the citation issued by the city's goon "investigator", I cannot occupy my suite until I have obtained an occupancy permit. According to the information given to me by Shamu the Whale Clerk, my business must be operational at the time of the inspection required to obtain an occupancy permit. I did not to bother contacting the city for clarification regarding these contradictory directives, primarily because I suspected that any explanation offered would simply make my head explode.

Fortunately I have some experience with these occupancy permit inspections, so I had a pretty good idea of the petty crap that we needed to do. For instance, we now have a sign above our front door telling us that it is the exit. (This has been particularly helpful, as we had been crawling through the air ducts to leave the building.) We also have a sign on the door telling us that it must remain open during business hours.

I know I sound like a whiner. I really should be grateful that the city is forcing me to succumb to its every whim, because this is really for my benefit. At least that is what the "investigator" told me. And he is probably right, given the fact that I have trouble finding a door unless it is clearly marked "exit". Maybe the city will do me a real favor and make me mark that hole outside so that I can distinguish it from a certain part of my  anatomy.

I thought about posting this prior to my inspection, but wondered if it might have some impact on the inspection. Not that any of the city's code enforcement people read my blog (or can even read for that matter), but Shamu and her colleagues seem to be able to understand some written words and I feared that they might misinterpret this post as being less than obsequious.


AMAI said...

LOL, but still... sigh. Getting rid of the whole permit process, along with the fees it generates, is likely to prove an uphill battle if taken head on. Or should that be head/ass on?

It's all part & parcel of the view that by demanding people ask for permission, somehow mistakes and mishaps will be avoided. However, the contradictory nature of government regulations, put together piecemeal and unintegrated as they are, could be used to start the process of unravelling the concept of governmental supremacy.

People hold the view that government OUGHT to be involved in every aspect of people's lives, because they have been taught that "people" (i.e., other people not themselves of course) are incapable of acting rationally. However, the government is also staffed with people. Perhaps that could be used to negate their basic premise?

My point is - I'm trying to figure out how best to demonstrate to people how and why altruism doesn't work and can't work. I think the example of the contradictory regulations regarding occupancy permits provides another nugget of proof.

As for Shamu and co., I tend to forget how horribly unhelpful most people who work in government actually are, since I do make such an effort to be helpful in my job and am always being profusely thanked for it - I work for/with Judges in Superior Court.

Anyway, long comment I know - but you've got yourself a new fan, Mr. Phillips.

Brian Phillips said...

I think that most people understand that government policies are contradictory. But they regard government mandates as metaphysical facts and passively accept them.

Mr. Moderate said...

Congratulations, you are paying for the idiotic decisions made by business owners who didn't properly post the exits, resulting in in customer or employee deaths during a fire or other emergency. Without the occupancy permit process, a portion of business owners would refuse to do the right thing in terms of life safety. They wouldn't pay for fire extinguishers, would lock doors to keep employees or customers from sneaking out, would put merchandise in front of fire exits, block stairwells,etc. Many of these issues are not obvious to employees and customers. Absent the inspections, the rights of your employees and customers would be in danger. so, the permits and inspections are a way of protecting the rights of those who work for or patronize your business.

As for the idiots in the City office, I approach that situation a couple of ways. First, I tell them to quit wasting my time gabbing about last nights TV. If that upsets them, then we have a discussion with their supervisor, and if necessary, their manager. I do not put up with crap from government employees, including police. They work for us, not the other way around.

Brian Phillips said...

Mr. Moderate--
How are the rights of my employees and customers in danger if I don't have a sign on my door? Rights can only be violated by physical coercion, and that certainly doesn't apply to the absence of a sign on my door.

Facts can sometimes get in the way of pre-conceived notions. The only employee of my business is my wife. She sits about 15 feet from the door that she uses multiple times a day. I have customers come to my office 2 or 3 times a year, and when they do they are seldom out of sight of the door they used to enter the office.

Personally, I think better of both my wife and my customers than to believe that they are so stupid they couldn't find the door.