October 14, 2007

Carbon Paper

Filed under: analog,hate,interfaces,life,lunacy — mhoye @ 8:44 pm

I’m not a libertarian, because libertarians are crazy people, but I’m just a teensy bit more sympathetic to their position right now.

So, a tree fell on my garage, and I need permission from City Hall to rebuild it, which is a little irritating, but not unreasonable. But when I got there to find out what I needed to do to get that permission… wow.

Ever been inside Toronto’s City Hall? It’s like walking into a caricature of a 1970s-vintage bureaucratic nightmare. There’s stacks of paper piled all over the place, some of visibly, physically degrading right in front of you. Brown carpets and brown walls are wrapped around brown cubicles wallpapered with yellowing mimeographed reminders on how to follow obscure processes. Brown desks and brown chairs from the Stalinist Ergonomics school of office furniture are surrounded by the stand-up fans that used to bedeck offices built with no concern for air circulation or general employee well-being, some of them running full-out with a high-pitched hum, others obviously long broken that haven’t been thrown away yet.

I’m absolutely certain that there’s some guy in the bowels of that apparatus who believes that I have his stapler, and could burn down the building. Has to be.

So now I’ve got a quarter-inch-thick stack of carbon paper to fill out. Carbon paper! Some of it five sheets thick! “In quintuplicate”, I swear! What year is this, again? It’s going to take me longer to fill out these forms than it will to actually tear down and rebuild my garage, which I’ve got to tell you, is irritating.

What an artefact, though. Carbon paper is never going to be outdated enough to be considered steampunk, and sensible retrofuturist ideals veto the inclusion of this sort of bureaucratic crap anyway. Maybe as some sort of burnt ceremonial offering to a crawling, belching oligarchic horror? We will press firmly with our ballpoints, applying ink to the carbon paper and casting the scriptures through to even the lowest tier of the fivefold forms in the manner of old, and we will wait in the line at great length, having taken the number that permits our trodding this hallowed path of ancients, and we shall place this offering at the altar of the Bhurocrax, that we may fleetingly gain his strictly-regulated favor.



  1. Why not get your lawyer to handle all the paperwork, and bill his time to the insurance claim?

    Why are you providing your labour to your insurance company, free of charge?

    Comment by Quotation — October 14, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

  2. Largely because the cost of the garage significantly outstrips the amount we expect the company to reimburse us as per our coverage, and every little bit helps.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — October 14, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

  3. Okay, I can understand having to ask permission to build a new structure, but to repair an existing one? What the fuck is up with that shit?

    Comment by Jamie Bowden — October 15, 2007 @ 8:34 am

  4. Well, as always, the relevant question is “what’s going to happen when the assholes get involved.” In this case, the assholes are people who decide that just a little bit of damage requires an entirely new, entirely different structure to be put in its place. I can totally understand that, and the other part of it is that building codes have changed since this garage was put up.

    It turns out that what’s really going to happen is that we’ll get “fast-tracked” once we have plans for your Ansi Standard Garage to show them, and the process should, once we get over the carbon-paper-form hump, be pretty straightforward.

    Also: I have an absolutely fantastic set of friends and family, so building it back up will be, I expect, fast and fun.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — October 15, 2007 @ 9:48 am

  5. As a homeowner and insurance policy holder, I am very disturbed and curious by how your friends and family will become involved. I would seriously expect the insurance company to pay up.

    Comment by Quotation — October 15, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

  6. News on that front soon. Wait.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — October 15, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

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