This one from "Going Postal" by Sir Terry Prachett. "were to be regretted"*
*Another bastard phrase that lends itself to any weasel in a tight corner. -- KnitNan
Certain phrases, when used in Administrivia and the unhallowed halls of bureaucracy, are heralds of impending doom. Some... are what the plebes are wont to call 'arse covers'.
It resulted in actions or decisions that, while correct, "were to be regretted". Employees more interested in keeping their job than helping people. A system derived from precedent and tradition and policy.
Byzantine, labyrinthine, and seemingly designed to drive mere mortals mad.
Eritwhistle the Everlasting had spent the better part of half a century in here. Learning about the ever-growing infestation of bureaucracy that had strangled any and all avenues for progress in this realm.
"Unfortunately," said the clerk, "one of your processed papers forty years ago has been missing a stamp. Policy does not permit any further action until the error is corrected by the original staff member."
Who had been rather elderly at the time, Eritwhistle recalled. "And if that staff member is retired or deceased?"
Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle... The clerk slowly paged through a massive tome of by-laws and policies in the manner of all staff members who are five minutes away from knock-off time. Unfortunately for them, they got to their result before shift change.
"Then you must commence to re-apply. Sadly, there is no avenue for renumeration in regards to time wasted."
"That's fine," Eritwhistle singsonged as he collected his papers. "I can subsist of the condensation on your artificial Ficus plants." Only under his breath, as the window closed behind him, did he add, "You're not going to wait me out."
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