Assume the bureaucrat and you are on the same side. Really, usually they are
Well, I suppose maybe 1 in 10 of the office fauna I've had to deal with have been genuinely helpful. The attitude of the rest could be placed on a scale from 'pleasant but incompetent' through 'passive aggressive' up to 'actively hostile'. Though, I don't believe they're necessarily bad people, just people trapped in a bad system that was the product of a bad system. Every day, they sit in a job with little respect, no hope for promotion, low pay, no job satisfaction and the knowledge that they could easily be replaced by a machine or the boss's daughter.
They have trouble accepting that they're only there to fill in a form or two and ask questions rather than making big decisions themselves. We see them as the short order chefs of the administratum, but they consider themselves the restaurant owners and the general public to be mere waiters. They p1ss poeple off to pass the time and make them feel as if they are really in a proper job.
Most importantly, they'll do as little as they possibly can. They'll only answer direct questions. They'll give a different answer to the same question on different days as it suits them because they don't know the answer and they're too lazy to check. Curiously enough, they often work unsupervised and so, should you have a problem with them, there's no complaints procedure and nobody to turn to.
They'll send you off to do their work for them as their messenger boy - why make a phone call when I can send this idiot to find their own data from the other office? And if they have trouble at the other office why should I bother?
Oh, and if there's something small that prevents them processing you, they'll shrug and smugly say it can't be done. If you ask why, they'll dig their heels in. If you really go to town on them and make it look as if you're going to be trouble, they'll miraculously do an about turn and process it for you. 'Cost benefit' exercise, you see - anything to avoid the most work.
In contrast, I went to the UK the other year for a copy of my birth certificate. I prepared as I would for an expedition for the delegatura - water, food, first aid kit, emergency beacon - and set off with instructions to my wife as to what she should do if I didn't return. I approached the desk, dropped the 10Kg of documents I'd brought 'in case' and asked the man for a birth certificate. He smiled (!) and gave me a form. I filled in the form and paid the fee with a card. He told me I'd have the cert in 1 week. Would I like it sooner? Would I like it posted to me? No thanks I said.
When I turned up to collect it a week later, it was there. I told him I'd been in Poland for a few years and things are totally different. I asked him if he was going to verbally abuse me or make me wait a few weeks. He said he could if I wanted him to. Now that's service! Not wanting to be a burden, I politely turned him down and accepted the standard service that anyone else in England is accustomed to.