Sunday, November 15, 2009

On Memoranda - Third Proverb

The third proverb found under this heading is as old as time:

"Do not look behind you unless you have covered yourself in memoranda."

That's right; the third proverb is the ancient precursor to the modern adage "Always cover your ass." Except the old Oriental version is not gluteal-specific but instead urges the wise bureaucrat to cover his entire being in memoranda.

I'm not sure why that is. It may be that it is understood that you should cover your derriere. Or it may be that the ancient author did not want to offend by colloquially referring to someone's rear end. Or it may be that, in those pre-labor union days, it was wise to literally cover your entire self in paper in order to hide from your superiors. When an error could end in the loss of a hand, an eye or your head, this was probably a smart thing to do.

Whatever the reason, it's comforting and perhaps a little disappointing to see that nothing much has changed in the world of bureacracies over the last three or four millennia. Except that today an error won't literally lose you your head or your butt. In fact, if you play your cards right, an error may actually advance your career as future proverbs will reveal.

No comments:

Post a Comment