Not Another Government Drone

You have no idea. Really.

Getting Fired in the Government May 29, 2010

Filed under: management,patriotism — Not another government drone @ 4:00 am

If there are two words that make me shudder at my office every time I hear them, it’s definitely these:

job security.

Job Security is a term that is thrown across the wall, down the hallway, into everyone’s little cubicle and spewed at every division meeting. It’s something the Big Boss likes to talk a lot about, especially when things are getting pretty shitty. Like, for instance, now.

It’s not entirely hard to understand, really, why this term is thrown around. We don’t make money in the government, so there’s no need to retain people who might make the company a lot of money but are complete assholes. At the same time, there’s no monetary incentives for anyone to work really hard, either. So instead, the government forces you to reach arbitrary “goals” to keep whatever GS (government pay scale) level you are. You might have to process 8 claims a day in order to reach, say, the level necessary for a GS-10. If you surpass it, that’s nice, but not really needed. They have to sweeten the pot somehow, so without money involved, it ends up being  about being able to keep your job. A bit sadistic, right?

But job security cannot only go so far. People do get fired, and for several reasons.

  1. They don’t like you. This could be for a myriad of reasons. It could be that you’re just an asshole and you don’t get along with anyone in the office. It could also be that you’re constantly talking, which, as I’ve said previously, is a big fucking no-no. They might think you’re flighty, or that you break their arbitrary rules like taking 20 instead 15 minutes for your break and getting caught. My friend Elizabeth almost got fired because an assistant supervisor just did not like her, and used to watch how much time she would take for breaks. People also are not liked if they are too stupid to play the game. The guy who recently got fired was told part of the reason was because when the Big Boss asked him what he was doing one day, he replied, “Nothing.”
  2. You don’t meet their stupid goals. Most people have a tough time with these goals because they’re set by people in DC who have never performed these jobs. Our production goals are also checked along side quality and timeliness goals. This all means that they want you to process as many claims as you can, do them as perfectly as you can, as fast as you can, every single day. Your work is checked and rechecked for errors. If one thing is wrong, you’re fucked for that particular claim. Sometimes, this is all up to interpretation. We use so many legal documents, manuals, etc to process our claims that it really does just become an administrative decision as to whether or not you did it right. If you don’t meet all of this shit, they get rid of you, and get rid of you quick. The last person who did meet their goals was fired on New Years Eve.
  3. Reduction in forces. This is, perhaps, the biggest mindfuck of them all. This is not really a problem at the moment, but awhile ago, Old Man Reagan thought it best to fire a shitload of government employees because he hated the government so much. Now, I have to say, both Bush and Obama have been pretty good about leaving us alone. But Reagan was not so into keeping anyone. Apparently, he used to send little messages telling Big Bosses across the company to pick a few employees to axe, and that they couldn’t refill positions once the person left or retired. In essence, he was a massive dick about it, because for all the talk about government being evil, he really just screwed people out of their jobs. And if there’s one thing about most government employees, you get sucked in for life. Can you imagine putting 25 years in, and finding out you’re getting fired because the President is a tool?

So, all that talk of job security really can’t protect you from reasons why they can still just fire you. Job security is really just a term thrown around to quell any rebellion.

Next up: How not to get fired

 

BJs in the file banks are so high school May 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Not another government drone @ 2:52 am

Today at work, a guy got fired two cubicles away from mine. I didn’t even know at all. I literally looked up outside my cubicle before noon and noticed that his name plate and all of his crap was gone. Also, his computer and phone.

Remember how I was talking about secrets? I didn’t hear a fucking thing, even as they walked him outside the building (“The Walk of Shame” as we refer to it), or unplugged and removed his computer, or ripped his existence out of his cubicle. Did. Not. Know.

Apparently, he took two hour lunches and blamed the Big Boss for his mistakes on the job. If there’s anyone in this office not to blame, it’s that dude.

My former supervisor and I were chatting later in the day as to what events lead to this untimely demise for my now former co-worker. “There’s hasn’t been too many people fired, really.” I said to him.

“Oh really? I thought there was alot.” He replied.

“Hm, I can only think of five in the past two years.”

“Nope, there was seven.”

I thought for a minute, trying to recollect who I may have forgotten. “Who were those last two?” I said, as I rattled off the names I knew off of the top of my head.

“Oh, well, Kitsy obviously. And the old Manager. You know, right after he got caught getting that blowjob from Kitsy in the file banks down the hall.”

 

Musical Chairs May 25, 2010

Filed under: creepsters,management,secrets — Not another government drone @ 2:06 am

I’m not going to lie. It’s been a boring few months in the government.

It’s actually also been a real mindfuck as well.

One day, the Big Boss decided to hold a station-wide meeting. “Guess what?” he said to us, in the Red, White and Blue Room (a name saturated in federal propaganda), “We’re going to fuck with the way you do things by moving everyone to different teams and switching everyone’s seat around so that you sit next to people you are not friends with!”

Well, he didn’t quite put it that way. But he might as well have said it just like that. The reality of this very serious situation did not hit anyone until the day when the IT guy pulled his little cart up to your desk and said, “Pack your shit, you’re moving!” to nearly every single person in the office.

But, we’ve all had this experience before, which only made the anticipation of the upcoming changes even worse. It goes like this:

One of the IT guys comes to your desk in the middle of the day like a Hooded Grim Reaper, beckoning you onward to your new location/job. You had heard through the grapevine you might be moving. “Oh, but I bet my supervisor will let me know when that is, if that’s even true,” you tell your co-workers. But that meeting never materializes. You wait, inpatient at the thought of hearing the creaky wheels pulling up to your cubicle. You try to work your cases a little quicker, so you won’t have too much when they come to get you. It’s time, you think, like a cancer patient taking their last breath, as the IT guy knocks on your cubicle wall. He unplugs your computer and your phone. You peel the layers of your life away from your cubicle walls. The photo frames of your family. The fake Certificate of Achievement your now former teammates made for you. The shitloads of training materials you had dangling from paper clips and scotch tape on your walls. You make the slow march to your new cubicle, halfway across the office, to be greeted by your new supervisor who says:

“Remember all that time we invested in training you to process these one specific kind of claim? Well now you get to process these other types of claims! Oh, and you will be subject to quality reviews and held accountable for station-wide production standards effective immediately.”

This exact situation happened to me nearly two years ago. For three months, I wondered when the IT guy was going to finally pull up and wheel me away. My supervisor at the time finally decided to warn me. “Oh, not until October 1! Don’t worry.” So when I came into work on September 12, still preparing for my final weeks working my last claims on my team, the IT guy wheeled up to my cubicle. “We’re doing this a little early, so start packing.”

It’s not as though the moves are always bad. They’re not. But the real issue here is secrecy. Secrecy is the one thing that glues our managers together, like a really lame secret society. Kind of like if Skull and Bones only admitted serious losers. Everyday things, like today’s training topic, or the menu for the Employee Luncheon, are closely guarded secrets.

And it is exactly this sort of secrecy that makes our Boss’s plans seem so evil. Because when he tells us to our faces how sweet and awesome this massively annoying change will be, you can’t help but wonder what even shittier secrets will soon be revealed.

At the very least, they could have given me a heads up after I wore five inch heels the day the Grim Reaper came to move my seat. More on my new seat later.

 

And now a word from our sponsors May 22, 2010

Filed under: creepsters — Not another government drone @ 2:16 am

Going away for vacation would have been meaningless had I not returned to a barrage of creepy comments from my co-workers. So raise your glass and toast the dudes who made these comments to me upon my return four days later. They make this blog possible!

“Why weren’t you here yesterday? We had to cancel the welcome back band!”

“No one baked for us when you were gone. We missed you.” (coming from a 50+ year old married dude)

“He was legitimately upset that you weren’t here yesterday.”

“People were really concerned about where you were.”

“Did you and J (my good friend) talk about me down in Florida?”

“I bet you really enjoyed that hot weather, wearing those skimpy clothes, didn’t you?”

“When J deleted Facebook, I had no reason to sign on anymore!”

“You are one of the only intellectually stimulating and attractive women under the age of 45. That’s why I call you ‘TP’ – Total Package.”

“Did you do a lot of skinny dipping together? Is that legal down in Florida?”

“What are you taking about? Everyone knows who you are.  Kids have pictures of you pinned up in their lockers.” (said after I asked about his son’s soccer game)

“So when do we see some wedding pictures of just you?”

“I don’t think you’re telling me everything you did in Florida.”

 

Why I’ve stayed with the federal government May 21, 2010

Filed under: creepsters,happy hour,new people,old timers,patriotism,talking — Not another government drone @ 4:20 am

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

A lot of shit has gone down in our office of late. People have gotten promoted, others demoted. Some people left. A lot of people have come in. It’s the same, in many ways, as it’s been the past two years of my employment here.

People have asked me why I’ve remained here, and why I plan on staying with the government for the time being (well, not this office). It’s a hard question to answer. Why does anyone stay where they are? Don’t we all complain about how shitty our job is, or how our co-workers suck, or how we’re always getting the short end of the stick when it comes to promotions?

On my very first day at work, someone said to me, “This job ain’t for the faint of heart.” They were right. Sometimes, you feel as though no matter how hard you try, or how intelligent you are, or how fast you pick up anything they throw at you, you’ll always be the ugly stepchild that gets bumped to the back of the family photo. No one ever seems to care whether you show up for it or not. If they don’t like you, they don’t have to promote you. If you piss the right person off, you end up in the wrong position.

We have our share of creeps. We have people who try to touch you inappropriately, or tell you how much of a “total package” you are.  People who say things like, “Damn, you make me wish I was 25 and single again!” from behind you. Some of my friends at work like to joke that we need a Real World house. I’m not entirely sure I’d want to be one of the castmates (that’s lie, I love attention, so I totally would), but it would probably be more fun to watch than, dare I say, Jersey Shore or any of the post-1990’s Real Worlds.

But for every creep I work with, there’s someone who would hold you hair as you puke during the first week of training and laugh about it later. When I went away to Reno for my training class (yes! you lucky taxpayers get to spend your money sending lower level government employees to shitty vacation spots for three weeks to get drunk with federal credit cards!), I went to a casino, got ridiculously drunk, and found myself in the arms of some other lush I affectionately dubbed, “Air Force Dude.” Air Force Dude and I had a brief affair; it began, innocently enough, when he swooped in on me and asked if I had dropped a scarf. I had not. But he whipped out two cigarettes and directed me to a bar in which my other co-workers were drowning their sorrows away. He was celebrating returning from Iraq, where he had spent three months flying planes and praying he didn’t get shot down. Or so he said. We walked over, chatted for a while, and then, oh shit! You have a boyfriend, my less attractive co-worker friend reminded me, and she grabbed my arm and pulled me into one of four parking garages attached to the casino.

My other co-worker, Antoinette, had graciously been our designated driver. When the other creepsters had left, she called my cell phone. I was unfortunately preoccupied getting to know Russell, a hot local guy who insisted on knowing where I was staying (The Residence Inn, but we had all decided to lie and said The Marriott, so we didn’t bring home a rapist).  She spent the next two hours driving around all four parking garages looking for me. When she eventually found me and my other co-worker friend from Phoenix, she threw us in the van and drove off. We threw up all over the government vehicle, pissed on a few people’s lawns, and eventually got home at five in the morning after getting lost over the California border.

Not once has she ever really held this against me. Even though she was stone cold sober, even though she had watched me pee down the parking garage stairwell while a security cop watched in disbelief, hell, even after I used her casino gift bag to catch the throw up of our less attractive co-worker friend, she didn’t seem to mind.

My friend Elizabeth sneaks out with me every other day to do what we call a “feelin’ a little alchy” lunch. Essentially, we go to a local bar to drink as much as we can in an hour (mind you, we get 30 minutes) and drive back to work to spend the rest of the day in a buzzed state of relaxation. We make fun of other co-workers, commiserate on our shitty lives, and plan our futures together. She has let me stay with her for several weekends when my life was slowly falling apart without a second thought.

Even Dan and Joe, my dear 40-something year old drinking buddies, are also good friends of mine. They can both spot, without words, when I’m having a bad day. They always know what to say, disgustingly sexual or not, to make me laugh. And when I need a slap in the face to return to reality, they don’t hesitate to volunteer.

It’s not just the weird friendships I’ve acquired throughout my stay, though, that confine me within these federal walls. There are people here, yes, more than one, who really believe in our mission. Sure, there are plenty of disillusioned ghosts haunting our hallways. There are plenty of backstabbers, snarky misfits, and testosterone-filled douchebags who would jump at the chance to have you in the sack. But there are a lot of people here who also want to make a difference. People who see through the foggy bullshit and want to make things better, to help people who we are supposed to be helping, to make this place, and this government, a better place to be.

Maybe I’m not as high-minded as them. Sometimes, I have to question the point of even having a government when it runs so poorly. But I love what I do. I love helping the people I help every day. I like knowing and being aware of the way this ship works, and what ways I might be able to improve it. If there’s any place in this country that needs the most work, it’s right here. And shouldn’t we try to place some sort of importance on actually trying to make it run smoother than it does? Should we tell it to screw off, not bother us anymore, and run away because of a few douches?

Whenever people want to answer the question of, “Why would you work for the government?” for me, they always say things like, Job security! Health benefits! Great pay! (you’d be surprised what you can get if you’re lucky and only have a B.A. here)

I like to think that those are peripheral reasons. The truth is, we can only defend our choices so far in life. I’m not sure if I can ever truly explain why I stay here.  But when this place sucks to the point where I can’t laugh anymore or at least blog about it anonymously, I guess, that’s when I’ll leave the government for good.

 

Wishful Thinking of an Unhappily Married Man January 29, 2010

Filed under: happy hour,sexual harassment — Not another government drone @ 4:02 am

Joe told me to let one of my friends know that he wanted to be her “Splenda Daddy.” When I looked at him with a bit of disgust, he said to me, “Well, she call me her ‘Sweet N Low ‘ Daddy if you don’t like splenda.”

 

I am my (direct) supervisor’s favorite January 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Not another government drone @ 2:47 pm


My supervisor loves me. I’m serious! All he ever wants to do is go over to my cubicle and tell me things, or make fun of me, or stop by to ask how we are all doing. It’s not weird at all, though. He’s in his sixties, so right off the bat you have to be a little suspicious. But my supervisor really doesn’t put off that vibe. For him, he’s more just delighted by my existence, like I’m his youngest child who just hatched out of an egg in the living room one day.

The other day, while walking around our area of the office with two post it notes taped to his forehead in the shape of a unicorn horn, my supervisor came up to me and told me this:

“You know, right after Big Boss saw Superbad for the first time, he called me McLovin for weeks. I didn’t even know what that meant!”

The government never ceases to amaze.