Officious Officials USA style

Every country has a different way of handling officialdom.

In some Asian countries the officials have the power to do whatever they like — some are corrupt — so I have learned to keep a low profile so that I am not singled out.

I remember last time I was in Malaysia. I was going through customs in transit and an official simply stole my toothpaste — a new unopened tube of expensive stuff. Immediately a hawker kept badgering me to buy some from her — I repeat — this was in the customs hall during transit! The customs official seemed to be OK with the hawker — perhaps he took a commission? It took me some time to work out what was happening and to keep myself safe.

In northern Europe the officials I have encountered are simply like another human — they don’t seem to have any need to do the “power” thing, they talk to you like another intelligent adult and seem to allow a smooth easy flow of information.

Most Australian officials are friendly and helpful however when we get an ornery one they are passive aggressive. They simply make things difficult without saying much. I have learned to get around them with syrupy sweetness so they don’t affect me too much.

In the USA the officials such as customs, train conductors, or anyone working in an official way are like something out of a bad sitcom. My daughter streams those American sitcoms where they scream abuse at each other and it is meant to be funny I think that the officials are like that but due to the power they hold over you it is simply not funny.

They speak really loudly using commands — to put it plainly — they talk down to you. They command to see ID, command people to do things a particular way and their demeanor is as though they are the parent and you are their slightly dim whited child.

This takes some getting use to.

I have tried to be polite to them but they don’t crack a smile or show any sign of friendliness—they just keep on LOUDLY telling me and others what to do.

I tried to crack the code of how to respond but maybe there is no code and we civilians simply need to move along as commanded?

I found customs in Dallas particularly amusing as they officials “told off” person after person for not being able to guess the next step of a complicated security procedure. You are expected to know the procedure and if you don’t guess it right you get ridiculed or told off!

Kansas City Amtrak station
Kansas City Amtrak station — simply beautiful architecture

When I was in Kansas City Amtrak station they called for people to board the train 30 minutes before leaving time.

There were crowds of people around the exit towards the train. I thought they were queuing for that train.

Anyway to make sure I was doing the right thing I showed my ticket to the official there. He loudly laughed at me and made a joke about how stupid I was for not going directly to the train as requested by the intercom. All the people queuing around joined in with the joke laughing at his words…

Silly me!

No need to be polite here and queue!

Just get on that dang train ASAP as you have been commanded and all will be well.