Almost all Iranian fathers are bureaucrats to the core!
They love to keep papers and documents for years. While most women keep old pictures and love letters, men stash away cancelled checks and old utility bills! I did not realize how wide-spread this problem was until my friends and I started discussing them in college after a few beers!
In our home back in Iran, my father had a secret closet. I don’t think any of us was ever allowed inside that small room, but once in a while I caught a glimpse of the place from the corner of my eye, through the slightly open door. Behind the lock and key lived files and cabinets full of important and not-so-important things. We all had our files in there, I assumed.
Whenever I got my report card from school, I knew that I only had a short time to look at those good grades (20’s and 19’s). As soon as I got home I would immediately hand over my report card to my father. He would then praise me for a few seconds on my good grades and would remind me that I needed to work harder to get better grades in Drawing and Religious Studies and a few other subjects. Then he would disappear into the secret closet and file away my report card.
I never quite appreciated his bureaucratic tendencies until it was time to apply for college and the notarized copies of my transcripts were required. He would go to the secret closet and come out triumphantly with all the required documents in his hand. I could see the worry in his eyes as he handed over the originals to me!
“You know where the notary office is. First have them translate and notarize then take them to that architectural office and have them make copies. Get a few extra copies. It never hurts to have extra copies!”
My college friends all had similar stories but one of them had the ultimate bureaucratic father!
“We were seven brothers and sisters so my father had set up an elaborate filing system for our stuff. There were so many documents that we had to submit a written form to my father for copies of Shenas Nameh or medical forms or whatever. My father had instituted a 48-hour turnaround time for the regular requests and a 24-hour one for an emergency. Everything worked like clockwork!” My buddy said laughingly.
As I was getting ready to leave Iran, my father handed over my passports, medical documents, Shenas Nameh and a few other things to me. It was like the scene in the first Star Wars movie when Obi-Wan Kenobi hands over the light saber to Luke Skywalker and tells him that he is going to be a Jedi!
My father looked worried as I casually put the documents in my small bag. He wanted something more elaborate, something more worthy of them! The interesting thing was that he was not as worried about me going halfway around world to a new place and culture, as he was about those precious documents!
As I was helping my uncle a while back to move a few things around his garage, I noticed several boxes that were neatly labeled and organized. I asked him about the boxes. It turned out that they contained cancelled checks, old utility bills and a whole lot of other thing dating back to the mid-80’s!
“You never know Faramarz! They might someday send me a bill and say that I did not pay an old bill!”
I could just picture him walking into the Utility Company office with the copies of the old bill and the cancelled check and gloat as the poor clerk profusely apologizes!