.Some years ago, when I was about to start a novel, I asked Marianne, "Before I start writing, is there anything you'd like me to include in this book?"
"Yes," she said. "I'd like to see a bureaucrat who was honest and efficient and doing a job that needed doing."
"Okay," I said, and that's where Stations of the Tide came from.
Yesterday, Marianne (who, you'll remember, is the retired Director of the Division of Laboratory Improvement at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories) had a visit from Stanley and Evelyn Reynolds. Stan is the Director of the Division of Clinical Microbiology at the Bureau, so he and Marianne had a lot of shop talk to work through.
Listening to them . . .
But wait. What is a bureaucrat? Somebody who's paid to ensure that legislation is honestly applied. Let's say that you pass a law that all lab tests be competently performed. You could go with the libertarian model that if the lab sink-tests everything (i.e., dumps all specimens in the sink and reports results within the normal range, whatever that might be), eventually their surviving customers will give their business to somebody else. (You've had blood or whatever drawn at your doctor's office, right? Quick! What's the name of the lab that processed it?)
Or you could presume that the government makes sure that the labs have a certain minimal level of competence. And if you do, who actually ensures this?
Bureaucrats, that's who.
So Stanley and Marianne, the current and retired second-highest-ranking guys in the Bureau were talking about what's going on back in the Labs and guess what? They were passionate! They raised the roof. They could not possibly have cared more about making Pennsylvania as safe as it can possibly be for people who might sometime in their life be sick.
Yeah, some bureaucrats are exactly as pointless as you think they are. But there are a lot of 'em out there who are giving it their all to make the world a better place.
And I for one am grateful
And this week . . .
I'll be on the road this week, from Tuesday through Thursday. I'll do my best to blog, but if I don't . . . well, it'll only be due to lack of access.