My buddy (who shall remain unnamed) told me this story last week.
He went to the Clark County Planning Department (the brick building, the lowest photo to the left) to get a permit. Anyway, it was a simple deal. A wrought iron fence and gate. (Why would you need a permit for that anyway? But I digress.) He went in, midmorning, and got his number. Now grab the remote and hit 'pause'. Las Vegas is in a funk. Not much going on, especially in the construction field. So take a look around the County Building Department. Huge, isn't it? But you could shoot a cannon through it today. Lots of empty chairs. And look at the three women at the counter. They aren't doing much of anything, are they?
Okay, hit 'play'. He walks in, takes a number, and reads it. 008. He understands that it indicates he is the 8th 'customer' today. It is midmorning. He sits.
The irritating computer voice says, "Now serving number zero zero eight at window number five." He stands and walks to window number five. The woman shakes her head.
"I'm sorry. You didn't come on time, so I zeroed the number."
"I zeroed the number. I can't help you now."
"But I just got up and walked here."
You'll have to take another number."
Growling to himself, he goes back and pulls another number. Guess which one?
Immediately the voice calls him to another window. He presents his application to another lady. She looks it over. Shakes her head.
"I need your business license number."
He points to the permit application. "But I gave you my contractors' license number."
"Sorry. Go over to that kiosk," she points, "and get it there."
"But you're right in front of your computer. Wouldn't it be easier to just get it, rather than I self-teach myself how to find it there?" He points too.
"No. Just go over there and get it."
Seething, he walks to the kiosk and spends fifteen minutes mining for his business license number.
He returns to the window. Not another 'customer' has been served.
She checks his number against the one she got off her computer.
That's right! She got his business number herself! Now he's ready to bite nails.
What does he do?
What, couldn't he complain to her boss?
Right. And how long would it take to get his permit?
And what would her boss do? Chew her out? Fire her?
She would have to be a serial killer for him to fire her.
In almost any other situation (like my Big Box hardware store story), the customer can take his business elsewhere.
It strikes fear in the heart of every retailer.
But not with the county.
You need a permit, you get it here, Bub.
And no back talk.
When I was young, they were called public servants.
Public servants, indeed.
Good news- he got his permit that day.
I asked him if they still had the stickers on the windows as you entered the building.
Nope, not any more.
What did they say?
"Celebrate the Customer!"
I'm happy they are gone.
It reduces the frustration.