there are two kinds of people in the world. the first is people. the second is government employees.
people are distinguished by their variability. there are tall people and short people. blond-haired people and brown-haired people. friendly people and mean people. people who like to climb mountains and people who like to watch TV.
government employees, on the other hand, are distinguished on the basis of certain persistent, pervasive traits. bloody ignorance is one such trait. government employees who work in a visa office, for example, tend to have a knowledge base equivalent to about 50% of what one could learn from reading the visa information pages posted online. this is problematic if you come up with a question that is not answered on those pages, as posing the question to a visa office employee is roughly as likely to get you an answer as posing that question to your neighbourhood butcher.
government employees are also unaware that the rest of the bloody world exists. this is why a government employee who doesn't know the answer to a question will not transfer you to someone who does. as far as a government employee knows, he and his computer are alone in the world and together they know everything that needs to be known. so forgive him if he's a bit cranky with you. government employees tend to be lonely.
finally - and most notably - government employees demonstrate a universal inability to remove the lead from their pants. if you have ever driven up a hill behind an old lady on a bicycle, you have a vague understanding of the pace at which a government employee conducts his daily activities. studies have shown that the circadian rhythms of government employees may, in fact, follow 72- rather than 24-hour cycles.
yesterday I called the immigration officer at the australian embassy to say sorry to bother you again ma'am, but it's a month since I submitted my medical exam results, nine weeks since you received my visa application, and is there anything else you need from me? she called back this time and said oh yes, it was approved on the 14th. didn't you know that?
government employees have yet to learn of the benefits of communication.