I don’t want to wait in vain

I spent the kind of time on a hot, sunny day in Jamaica, that I would never wish on anyone, yet it is all too commonplace in this and many countries. My father’s car needed to have its licence renewed at the end of March. I thought I would help to do that. Little did I realise that I would spend the better part of the day on the process. The steps were really valid, but the processes were all too long and too slow. The sad thing is that it’s that way for a lot of routine business. I spent hours in a bank and a building society trying to withdraw or deposit funds. Each involved being in long lines for over 30 minutes.

The licensing needed payment for an inspection fee, for which one had to stand in line for the better part of an hour at a tax office. Then the fee needed to paid at the agency that did the inspection: fortunately, the town is small so it was only a 10 minute drive away. Then the vehicle needed to be inspected and given its ‘fitness certificate’. That then needed to be taken to the insurance company for them to renew the coverage of the car. Then, it was back to the tax office to pay for the licence. A friend and I split the tasks, as I needed to do some banking. We set off at about 11am in the morning and returned home just around 5pm.

When you see the long lines of people, many of whom should be at work somewhere else, you have to wonder how an economy can really function this way. I know it is this way in a lot of so-called lesser developed countries. Of course, living in the U.S.A. I am spoilt by having the opportunity to do most tasks such as licensing and insurance renewal by using the Internet and never having to go anywhere or stand in line. It is, of course, very quick to do it that way, and seemingly more productive in a general sense.

Added to the waiting, is the need to use cash for almost all the payments. I did not need a wheelbarrow, but a big envelope stuffed with bills was always at risk of falling and the cash blowing away.

Naturally, I feel a bit exhausted. I have been able to do nothing else during the day. I have not even mentioned needing to go back to the inspection agency because they managed to put the wrong details of the vehicle on their form (copying what was there–wrongly–from the previous year and not checking the chassis and engine numbers). The insurance company were good in not letting that stop their renewal process, but we had to go back to get the inspector to correct his error. It took him two attempts, as, initially, he corrected one error.

I will add that the process was quicker, both for the car and the banking, than it could have been because ‘we knew some people’ who helped move the processes on. I had to laugh, though, when I was sent to the ‘quick line’ for customer service and had to wait for 30 minutes while the  people ahead of me were served. Admitted, the hold-up was the first in line, who seemed to have a lot of paperwork involved in a transaction.

I know that a lot of vested job interests are involved in some of these processes. I also know that people who have to deal with bureaucracy like this have patience that is incredible.

This whole waiting process is a part of living in a ‘tropical paradise’ that leave me cold. Don’t need it and I believe that no one does. What would I have given for a nice glass of rum and ice in one or all of those places where I had to stand and wait.


About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
This entry was posted in Bureaucracy, Caribbean, Life styles. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to I don’t want to wait in vain

  1. Mark says:

    Now you can really appreciate how lucky we are to have the use of the internet and organisations that can function online.
    Most of the world lives the way you experienced if not worse, we are fortunate indeed to live in “developed ” countries.

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