We’ve come a long way since Jerry Seinfeld ruled the TV ratings. I remember how in one episode Seinfeld’s sidekick George Costanza helped his neurotic father, Frank, to sell a bunch of computers.
Like George, Frank was an uptight fellow, to say the least. A problem with high blood pressure caused him to employ the tactics of a relaxation tape that had instructed him to peacefully chant “Serenity Now” at times of elevated stress. But being a New Yorker, screaming it out with his palms towards the heavens was the preferred option.
Jerry asked Mr Costanza if he knew what it took to compete against Microsoft and IBM. He replied that he had a secret weapon, his son, George, whose sales pitch was simple: "There’s porn and you can check stock quotes." However, in a contest againts another salesperson, George promptly cheated in the sales race by shifting the computers himself with plans to return them later once he’d been crowned the winner.
Funny how sex and money are no longer the driving forces behind the desire to be connected. However, the results of those two factors ie: our kids, with their absolute necessity to be attached at all times to the Twitterface along with our own obsession to be able to respond to work emails faster and in more places than ever before. The need to send messages like: "I’ll be back in the office soon, just leaving the supermarket/car park/pub. Sent from my iPhone, which is now surgically sewn to my hand,” now force us to be hooked up like dependent junkies to the web every single second of the day.
So is this new found connectivity making our lives any easier? I hear a collective scoff, and see a cloud of panini crumbs fly across the room as you all laugh at the thought that life connected is somehow easier than it was before in the days when Seinfeld ruled the ratings.
Something else that is no easier is bidding for tenders or even finding out why it is such a huge effort to get past our government goal keepers at the office which has significant control over many of the country’s sweetest deals, the Procurement Reform Group.
As a ‘knucklehead’ media type I am now faced with the ethos poured down the government drain from John Key to all the press officers and communications advisors throughout the grey hallways of Wellington. In short, they all hate the press, and any questions from these gutter-dwelling reptiles must now be handed in writing for consideration before any such official with weight is allowed to respond.
I’ve put in a request to interview someone from the Procurement Reform Group to talk about the gripes of tenderers who have just about given up on applying for government RFPs et al. Not only does it take weeks to get a reply from the press officer or as they like to be called, communications advisor, (I prefer the former because it doesn’t imply a task) then when I finally get a reply I am asked to list exactly what my gripes are.
It took 11 days for the Procurement department to get back to me. As anyone in the tender business knows, 11 days is the around the amount of time you have to respond to an RFP so the news that this late arrival brings is akin to the arrival of a messenger on horseback gallantly riding up to the castle gates ready to nail his message to the Evening Post.
This is not showbiz PR, this is public money on public time and public expenditure of our earnings. These people should stop acting like they own their jobs. They are your servants. You pay them and they answer to you, despite them thinking otherwise. It is their job to facilitate public enquiry of work paid for by the employer, us the tax payer, not to manipulate and foster a positive outcome of any news that emerges.
Obviously the glory of choosing how we spend our money has gone to this division’s head because they’re acting and sounding like celebrities. I guess it’s understandable because they would be constantly living under a silver-lined cloud of fawning, obsequious flattery because that’s how life is when you hold the cheque book and you have the power to change people’s lives for better or worse.
There are a few unspoken rules of employment that we all take as a given: Don’t smack your boss in the face with a wet fish, don’t arrive to work drunk with your pants on backwards and don’t refuse to answer the boss when you’re asked to explain what you’re spending your time on.
So before I reply again to the meeja coms dude, I thought it best to invite all you tenderers to list your gripes, which I will summarise and file in unison to the PRG. Even if the response will cause our collective blood pressure to rise above boiling point. Serenity Now!