Recently, I finished my bachelor’s degree at Leiden University. More precisely, I have a degree in Public Administration. One of the peculiar things about Dutch Public Administration, is that it borrows heavily from American scholars. Therefore, it’s almost as if I have an American PA degree (I looked it up, and apart from the law courses, I’ve had the same courses as a PA undergrad at Saint Louis University). American bureaucracy is therefore like a mutual friend that I have heard so much about, but never got to meet. Or a city you visit after having read every single travel guide about it. Every place seems familiar in a strange way and everywhere you look, there’s something exciting about recognizing it.
Miss Missouri (soon to be Mrs Boshouizen, according to the DMV, that had some letters laying around) and I went to the county capital to have our marriage license prepared. The way there was fantastic. I am slightly fascinated by the government apparatus (not to be confused with enthusiastic, which I’m way less often), so to see all those buildings stacked up on a few blocks was already like coming home. For instance, there was a car parked at the designated judge parking spot. Nothing special there, but it also happened to have handicapped license plates. All the handicapped spots were both closer AND all available, but this judge had chosen to use only one of his privileges. We weren’t even indoors and the bureaucratism had already started.
We went up the elevator. Inside, we were greeted by a lady. We told her we came to get our marriage license. She wrote it down, and had us sit next to her. Absolutely nothing happened. Two minutes later, the manager came up to us. ‘You guys are here for your marriage license?’ he asked. We nodded. ‘Okay, if you could just wait here.’ We remained seated in exactly the same spot. Our lady came by and took us to her desk. She browsed through all of our papers, had us plead that we weren’t cousins (while trying to maintain a seriousness) and then explained the progress to us. If you’re not a PA major, it is hard to explain how all the employees (almost caricature-like SLB’s, of course), all the signs on the ceiling and every cubicle is an real life enactment of the theory I have studied over the last three years. It all became real to me and I loved every minute of it. Next time, I’ll present my recent findings about how New Public Management has spilled over to non-government businesses and how it effects me and my wallet.