“They say that I never know to say thank you. It’s not right.

Until now I never saw any reason to say thank you.

But everything changed yesterday.

In the morning, as usual, I took my garbage bin outside, waiting for it been collected.

And as usual, while doing it, part of garbage spilled on the ground near my house.

And as usual, I asked the garbage man to clean it.

You cannot understand how surprised I was, when he didn’t say anything and just went to the next garbage bin.

It was so unusual. I just stood there with my mouth open until a fly entered into it, made a round and flew off.

Just then I closed my mouth and understood: today the garbage man DIDN’T say what he thinks about my mother, my sister (still unborn’ but how could he know), something about him doing behind my father and something about a chestnut (I remember being surprised that he knows French and that in it “marron” means chestnut. But it interfered me a bit that his pronunciation was so bad that it sounded as “what a moron!”.)
He even didn’t show me signs like in pantomime (what he really meant showing me that middle finger? Did he mean that I should do it by myself?)

Well, as I said, I was stoned to the earth by his disregarding my words in so cultural way.

It was unbelievable that the garbage man didn’t answer.

But he could!

Yet he didn’t.

That moment I understood that I want to thank him for such gentlemanlike behavior.”

John gave the letter to the secretary and said: “So, here it is”

She looked through it and then on John, read once more, then stood up and went out of the room.

Five minutes later she returned and said: “Sorry that you had to wait, but you have to go to room 329. They will try to help you.”

In room 329 the process went the same way as in the room before : “Good day. I want to thank one of your workers. I wanted to do it by just saying it to him, but two days ago, when I came to the municipality the first time, they said that I’ll write it. So, here it is.”

-”You should bring the letter in 3 copies.”

-”I know. The girl in room 10273 said it to me yesterday.”

-”Are those copies signed by notary?”

-”Here, the letter from him.”

-”Did you pay 75$ tax for inserting “thank you” letters into the municipality?”

-”Yes, here is the receipt.”

-”Wait a moment, please.”

The man went out from the room.

John heard him speaking with somebody by phone for some time.

He heard parts of the talk : “what can I do more?.. I don’t know what to do with this letter… Yes, we tried this… and that too… He’s here for three days already and did everything, so what to do?…Oh, I’ll say it to him.”

The man returned and said : “I’ll sign that I received it, only after the chief secretary to the junior manger’s apprentice of secretary’s helper to the mayor’s third deputy on matters of letter transportation will sign. He sits in room 2345.”

John thought that sun came into the room, because the man’s broad smile showed all gold teeth that blinked and dazzled him. He closed his eyes, swallowed deeply but then raised his head and decisively went out.

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Three weeks later, the letter was filed in and the committee that had to be arranged to find everything about the thank you letter was arranged and gearwheels began slowly to move.

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My newspaper decided to permit me a free assignment. I heard for long time that there is too much bureaucracy in our Municipality. But last week somebody told me a story that showed a bureaucracy in different view. Very different.

I came to the Municipality. Very old looking, 2-story building, colour strips descending from walls, holes as large as mayor’s head in plaster, windows without glass.

Did you see a haunted mansion? Now imagine much simpler architecture and even more sinister look, and then still you couldn’t imagine the Municipality look.

I felt cold sweat descending on my back, legs suddenly unstable. Suddenly one of the doors opened. First I heard it open (and almost possibly, all the town heard too) and then I saw it turn. I stood before it afraid to continue.

An old woman with untidy cloths came out of it and went along the corridor.

-”Sorry, can you show me where is the archive?”

She showed with finger the direction and I followed with my eyes there. Through the Municipality corridor, through the door, through the long straight street before it to the building at the end of the street.

I began to count stories, but after 57 felt that it’s not important. The most beautiful building in the town and the archive is there?

When I came closer, enough to read what was writen on a small sign near the entrance door, I stopped in disbelieve: “The Municipality archive.”

I looked back on the City Hall and then back on its archive building, and immediately understood what is REALLY important in this town – papers.

It took me some time to find the room 10457 where they said I’ll find all the documents about the letter that was the base of the downslide of Municipality economics.

On the 10th floor was just one room – 10457. Were there rooms 10456 and 10455? I began to think that not.
I entered the room 10457 and saw that it really stretched along the floor. Everywhere were carton boxes and file cabinets. I began to learn.

1998 – the 127th committee couldn’t resolve the problem, so 10,278,756$ were writen off for unsolved matters.

2004 – The mayor Hudinrof tried to influence the 744th committee to shorten their work or at least to eat less, but didn’t succeed.

1974 – After the attendant misplaced the “thank you letter” file #1743 because the archive was too full, the municipality decided to build a separate building for it (”thank you letter” archive).

2005 – The old “thank you letter” archive destroyed and on its place the new archive built.

2007 – The Mayor Hudinrof II found the reason for the garbage man not cursing and the file is closed.

I photocopied the Mayor’s findings, looked around me and went out.

On the street I took the copy out of my pocket and read again the explanation of the anomaly of garbage man not answering:

“The man was deaf.”

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