Asked to identify her body, they pinpointed the mole on her lip and her finely arched eyebrows. Their daughter’s life was now boiled down to a bureaucratic moniker — Case No. 09-01458 — on a Proof of Death certificate.
As they wheeled into an expanse of parking lots, they had a hard time finding the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Straight up? No, go to the right! I know where it is! No, that’s the court supervision building!
They parked on a gravelly lot, littered with crushed soda cups, plastic forks and flattened cases of mints.
“Here we go,” Erwin said, climbing the stairs to the morgue, “Bldg. 27” written on the front door. “Big one.”
These vignettes, in typical Washington Post human interest story style, say little about the background processes of the bureaucracy that will remain invisible to all but the families of the nine fatalities, the seventy some injured, and the Metro organization and NTSB who try to piece together what happened. Of course, there will be lawsuits and other claims that make it into the public record, and these processes will drag out possibly for years.
Behind it all, it seems unusually cruel that the victims–both physical and organizational–will be thrown into the bureaucracy to work out its processes while working out their pain. Yet, it is only the worst system except for all the others.
One would hope, but with little optimism, that the inevitable review study will take into account organizational factors in the same way the Columbia board and 9/11 commission did. It’s not much, but it’s a start.