Very recently one of my employees partner died. In the weeks before he died they were trying to get married – there were lots of complications and it wasn’t straightforward. I helped a little with the paper work. I was in contact with many public servants – registrars, court officials, nursing staff. They were to a man and woman wonderful, kind, efficient and caring. They went beyond their job descriptions on many occasions and were very understanding of difficulties – not once did I come against the ‘jobsworth’ attitude. Yet the never bent a law. The really bent over backwards when there was no gain for themselves.
It set me thinking about how often I’ve met or seen public servants who were just very kind and thoughtful. I’ll give two further examples:
Recently one of my children failed to return a DVD to the library on time – when I returned it I discovered that it had incurred a €2.10 fine. The librarian looked around to see if anyone was looking and in a very quiet voice said ‘don’t worry if you can’t afford to pay it all off today’. I looked at her and thought to myself ‘I spill more of that when I open a decent bottle of wine’. But I really appreciated this kindness in case I was struggling (and I was in the past so I know what that means).
Finally I have never been into the passport office without witnessing someone trying to get a passport at the last minute – usually a young fella on the post leaving cert bash who didn’t realise he needed one! – but also people desperate to travel to be by the bedside of a sick relative. They have always been treated with courtesy and the utmost flexibility and I think always got to travel.
I’ve been reflecting since the first incidence outlined above how all these kindnesses by public servants civilises us all and without these small kindnesses Ireland would be a far worse place to live. If you’ve ever had cause to meet the bureaucracy in other countries you might recognise that not all countries have such a professional but flexible public service.
I do realise that not all Irish public servants/services are like this (indeed I could have done a thread on jumped up jobsworths myself) but enough of them are that I want to say a public thank you.
Please feel free to post good public servants stories below – if you want to public service bash please do it elsewhere – there are plenty of p.ie threads that do just that.