Thursday, 27 October 2011

Filling out forms is

not my favourite activity. There may be some rare people who actually enjoy doing it but I do not know of any.
I do a lot of it in my day job. Much of the information I am asked for is standard. It is designed to keep public servants happy. They like information, the more irrelevant the better.
I can understand why they need my name, well a name. They like to know who they think they are talking to. But why do they need to know my date of birth? If I am old enough to read the form and understand it then they should surely assume I am old enough to do the job? My race? My religion? Those things might matter to some people but they will not matter to most people. I am not going out to proselytise and I am well aware that Australians are not popular in some parts of the world.
My qualifications? Well that can matter I suppose. They may need to know whether they are dealing with a tinker, a tailor, a soldier or a sailor. In my case it is more likely to be whether they are dealing with someone who has a legal or medical background.
Do they really need to know where I went to school? University? I suppose they can check with the latter to see if I actually exist and have the qualifications I claim to have but I very much doubt anyone has ever done it.
My work history? I doubt that will help much either. Someone would have to go digging out dusty files to check - and they are not going to do that.
Then there are all the other items about associates and funding and inter-agency contacts and languages and certified translations and the purpose of the current project etc etc. Some of it is so standard that I can do it almost in my sleep. Other items have to be considered more carefully.
I filled out another form the other day. It will form part of the death certificate for my late uncle. The information required on that was detailed. His full name and date of birth, his parents' full names and their dates of birth, the full names and date of birth of his former wife and the date of their marriage (but not the date of their divorce), the full names and date of birth of his children and the date that one of them died. The family history provided most of that information. Was all this really necessary? I doubt it. His birth certificate should have been sufficient information.
And there was a further question. It is apparently something that has come about in recent years. Was he of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage? That question was unnecessary.
Most of this information does not go on the death certificate. It is just information collection by the government. Someone, somewhere has decided that all this information is useful to someone other than family historians - who have their own means of collecting it.
I have several friends and colleagues who answer such forms in their own way. One always replies to his date of birth with "too young to know about the calendar then" and qualifications with something like "I can read this form" unless he knows they need to know. So far he has got away with this and still gets the job done.
He will answer many questions with answers that are legal but meaningless. He has it all down to a fine art. Most of the time however he ignores the all important question relating to his sex. He has not yet given in to the temptation to answer "Yes please".


Anonymous said...

This kind of information is being demanded for the most trivial of reasons now but it must be galling to be required in order to register a death in the family.

I like your friends style :-)

Ann Patey

widdershins said...

*chortles* .. another version: "Not unless you're paying"!
Thankfully, most forms over here use the word, 'gender', occasionally with three options. And they're slowly changing the assumption that 'married' doesn't automatically mean male/female married! ... progress!

Anonymous said...


I don't like forms much, but have learned a few tricks from your friend I might be tempted to use! I haven't replied to the Sex with 'yes please, but have said 'not today, thank you.'

Judy B