Running an Errand

13 December 06

I was happily strolling down the streets of Belgrade and singing: “Birds are singing, autumn trees are blooming, pigeons are spreading plague, it’s quite an ordinary day!” I was on an errand to submit some documentation to the Coordination Body for Enforcement of the Agreement on Succession Problems.

Offices for the Serbian Government are conveniently located and the security guards are rather nice to visitors and clients. Unfortunately, the staff was not as helpful.

- That Coordination Body isn’t here.

- What do you mean – isn’t here? – I was waving a text of the law from July 2006 that guaranteed to any democracy loving citizen that the Coordination Body was formed in the Serbian Government.

- What I said, it ain’t here. Why don’t you walk up to the Ministry of Finance? It’s the white building fifty meters uphill.

And indeed I walked, from where I was promptly sent to another building 100 meters uphill, as the Ministry of Finance does not accept mail in the Ministry of Finance building.

- Sir, we cannot accept that. It’s addressed to the Coordination Body, and we only accept mail to the Ministry of Finance.

- But the chair of the Coordination Body is the Minister of Finance. – I was being persistent to no avail and left the third building with a phone number of a person who will certainly tell me where the Coordination Body for Enforcement of the Agreement on Succession Problems is physically located, so that I can give them my rather important documents.

I felt good as I was walking back home. Perhaps it was because I realized that Serbian bureaucracy is not all that terrible – information is available if you ask nicely, or perhaps it was the slight sensation of skin burning that being exposed to Belgrade pollution gives you after half an hour.

- Hello, how may I help you? – a sexy female voice on the other end of the line was offering help.

- Hi, can you please tell me where the Coordination Body for Enforcement of the Agreement on Succession Problems is located?

- Certainly sir, call up this number in the Ministry of Finance, and they will help you.

- Ministry of Finance? Can you tell me where the CBEASP is?

- CBEASP, sir? – the confusion didn’t arise because of the acronym, I’m shortening it to save bytes here.

- Yes, you know… Formed by the Government decree of 16 July 2006.

- Why don’t you call up the Government then? Please write down their number.

- I suppose you couldn’t tell me where CBEASP is?

- Of course I could! It’s at the Ministry of Finance, the phone number is…

- I have got their phone number, but they never heard of it.

- Please don’t be rude sir. This is the special, secret, phone number for sensitive information.

- Committee for Receiving Mail of the ad-hoc Coordination Bodies at the Ministry of Finance, how may I help you?

- I want to submit a document to CBEASP.

- Are they at the Ministry of Finance?

- I’d say so.

- Why don’t you call them then?

- I did. You ARE the Ministry of Finance… Listen, just put me through to Minister Mlađan Dinkić…

- Mlađan Dinkić has resigned from his post. Please leave a message after the…. – I certainly hope the answering machine did not save my message.

- Hello, I talked to you a minute ago about CBEASP. Dinkić is apparently clinically dead. Who is in charge of the Body now?

- Well, let me see. He resigned, Drašković is in the church, Jelašić is buying jeans in Trieste. Why don’t you call Minister Parivodić?

- Mr Parivodić? Where the hell is CBEASP? If you tell me, I won’t submit those photos of yours to the newspapers!

- Ah, yeah, sure… CBEASP exists, certainly… Call up the Federation Palace and ask them.

- Federation Palace? I need to get some mail to CBEASP

- None of our staff has been showing up for work since the Federation fell apart. I’ll put you through to the West wing.

- Ma’am, I saw that on TV, and it’s not what I need.

- Government of Serbia, how may I help you?

- I’m a wanted war criminal, but I will only turn myself in to the CBEASP. Where can I find them?

- East wing of the Federation Palace, of course!

- Ma’am, is that you again? I know the Federation fell apart, but is there ANYBODY around there to help me out?

- Well, there is this one…

- Anyone, anyone!

- This is J.B. speaking.

- Comrade Tito, is that you?

- It is, but don’t tell anyone. The enemy is lurking inside and outside of the country.

- Comrade Tito, I need to submit this piece of document. It is of utmost importance that I…

- Yugoslavia has been standing at the edge of an abyss. But, we managed to make a giant step forward!

- Comrade, please help!

- I told you once, I will tell you again: Yugoslavia will not be a Soviet satellite!

- Was Tito helpful?

- I’m afraid not ma’am. He still has that terrible accent, I couldn’t understand him a thing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to make a giant step forward. Let Marti Ahtisaari know of my tragic faith.

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I suspect that some people will want to know more about the author of this blog. However, as my topic of writing is usually not of very personal nature, I find it inappropriate to write about personal things, say: hobbies, my pets or particularly bad ways in which girls refused me.


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