“Here’s my application for sabbatical-leave for fall 2012,” I told the bureaucrat.
“Oh, I can’t accept it yet,” she said. “It’s a month early. It might fall through the cracks. You can only submit it after October 3rd, 2011.”
“I will be on maternity leave in September and October,” I explained, “So I am submitting it now.” These applications are due in mid-October, and absolutely no late applications are ever considered. I will have a newborn, then, and won’t be back at work until November 1st, and so I had planned ahead.
She insisted she could not accept it now. Apparently, she is incapable of opening a file to accept applications a month early. Applications must be submitted both electronically and on paper, but this particular bureaucrat is incapable of saving either paper files or email attachments for a month. She kept telling me, “It might fall through the cracks.”
Her advice was that I should ask my departmental secretary to hold on to my application for a month, then walk it across campus to the proper office between October 3 and October 11, the only time I can possibly submit this 15-page application. I tried to explain that this is not the secretary’s job, but her job. She also told me I should set up my email to somehow automatically send an email on exactly October 3 with the application attached — as if that’s less work. I tried to explain that maternity leave means I should not have to do any work, and I am applying for funding that is 13 months away, I am quite responsibly applying early, and sheesh, I have never heard of an application that can’t be accepted a month early.
Then she informed me that I don’t actually have official maternity leave. I filled out that paperwork three months ago, when my sweet department chair helpfully walked the forms over to the dean’s office just to make sure they would get signed quickly. But the inept-sabbatical-leave bureaucrat is in the same department as the maternity-leave bureaucrat, and although she can’t hold on to a file for a month, she can chat with the person who sits next to her, who told her that there was a problem with my proof of pregnancy.
Yes, dear readers, the California State University system requires me to prove I am pregnant. My belly is not proof enough. A print-out from my doctor’s office that includes the phrase “Estimated Due Date” or “EDD” is required, and I had included that — because, working for CSU, I am actually accustomed to this sort of bureaucratic hoop-jumping.
It turns out that my application was held up because the print-out I happened to hand in had “edd” in lower-case as well as “EDD” in upper-case, and the bureaucrat wasn’t sure whether this was adequate proof. So she just ignored it. And never told me about it. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have actually lost, say, my salary and medical-benefits when I stopped showing up at work — but this is cutting it pretty darn close.
I do believe I have encountered the most inept bureaucratic department on my entire CSU campus, and that is saying something.