Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Functionary: A person employed in a bureaucracy who carries out simple functions and has little or no authority

Flunky: An assistant who does menial work; a toady

Flunktionary: A low-level employee in a business or government agency with minimal authority and an over-inflated sense of self-importance

Your company is doing a multi-million dollar project and you have submitted an invoice. Also required are a variety of waivers, affidavits, and forms. In many cases, the first stop for your paperwork is the desk of someone whose job it is to sort through and make sure everything is there, perhaps also distributing parts to various other people or departments. 

On one of the forms, you neglected to put in the date of the invoice or the title of the person who signed it or perhaps the zip code. Logic would dictate that the person who notices it fills it in, perhaps sending you a note saying, "Hey, just a heads up that you forgot to do this."

Flunktionaries do not do that. 
Flunktionaries call or email you and say that you have to redo the forms and resubmit them. (If you try to ignore them, they will bombard you with emails and voice-mail messages asking where the resubmitted forms are.)
Flunktionaries advise you that your invoice will not be processed until the "error" is corrected.
Flunktionaries believe that he or she has every right to do this because they have complete authority over you, the work your company does, and whether or not you will be paid at all. In fact, they have none.

Some people are actually cowed by flunktionaries and do whatever is demanded, further enabling this behavior. 
Others just don't want to be bothered dealing with them, so they redo whatever is necessary, regardless of the waste of time and expense. 
A few will actually confront the flunktionaries and threaten to go to their superiors. This will sometimes get the flunktionary to renege, but there are also times you actually do have to call their boss. But if you are going to call the boss, do it quickly because you can bet the flunktionary will be running down the hall to let the boss know that you are overreacting and that your paperwork really, really, really is incorrect.

Occasionally, you can be successful in your dealings with flunktionaries. More often than not, however, you will just be frustrated by them. Often, you will wish there was some way to send a zap charge through the phone.

Unfortunately, flunktionaries never seem to get fired.
In fact, sometimes they get promoted.
And then you're really flunktioned!

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