Inside The Life Of A Government Employee


Before you ask, I don’t work for a glamorous agency like the CIA–although some most days I feel like I deserve to be waterboarded. At least when other people take power naps and 25-minute bathroom breaks in the private sector, you’re only wasting a few bucks of the corporate big wigs who cash multi-million dollar checks on the reg anyway. For government employees, may God forever have mercy on our souls. We’re feeding the vicious bureaucratic cycle and ensuring you citizens send us more income tax next year.

It was a raucous night out with the three amigos: Jackson, Johnson, and Jefferson (TJ for short). We celebrated Presidents Day, which explained my disheveled 9:30 a.m. arrival and why I didn’t check my email until 11. I was failing the American people and flushing tax payer dollars down the toilet (almost literally, since I nearly dropped my wallet into the urinal). Why I was attempting to open it while releasing the foul stench of whiskey mixed with chicken gyros is another matter. In the restroom, I remembered TJ insisted on doing multiple shots of Jack Daniels with some guy dressed like Honest Abe, who then went on some sort of mostly unintelligible rant about how the Civil War was really all about ensuring the North had a steady bourbon supply and that’s why Presidents Day is the best. “I really need to brush up on my history,” I thought as I washed my hands and looked in the mirror. And apparently my teeth, too. Gross.

It’s not entirely my fault. I came in as a bright-eyed youngster, wanting to make a difference. However, after waiting more than three months for approval on back-to-back projects, I decided scotch was a better alternative and became part of the bureaucracy. It took so long for the boss to deny both outreach initiatives due to budget issues that I forgot I had even submitted the second one. Now I laugh at the interns who slave away, dreaming of becoming legislative assistants who swing power voters in the House. Words like “efficiency” aren’t vocabulary mainstays around here, and timeliness isn’t a card in the government’s hand.

Speaking of cards and houses, now the boss comes in and drops some allegedly urgent issue. It sucks, because I actually have to pick up my telephone with a missing 9 key and call people. Apparently something “came down from the top,” and the governor “will raise hell” if we don’t get these people in this place by this time to meet so and so. “I could be saving some company loads of money or pleasing my way into the VP’s good graces,” I thought to myself after getting switchboarded for the third time. Now I’m screwing up Frank Underwood’s schedule and talking to some guy in IT because Belinda at Education doesn’t understand how to transfer a call. Not that I really do either. I’m pretty sure this phone predates the Mesozoic Era.

I spend the next few hours deleting constituent emails or forwarding them to other agencies–the EPA or Family Services are usually my go-tos. Their contact centers have turned delivering bad news into an art form. Of course, half are probably ex-hotel receptionists from Sochi who got here on some visa program. I get a Snapchat from my buddy grabbing his third vitamin water out of the company fridge. His boss let him off early. Damn private sector.

For government employees, the private sector is like a mythical land where people get paid large sums of money to work on new computers and talk about profit margins. They have office parties, beer trucks, and women under the age of 35 who don’t look like they tumbled down Chocolate Mountain and landed on Burger Boulevard. “I wonder if he can get me a job there…” I think, as I swipe through the rest of my Tinder feed. Who am I kidding? I just wasted an entire day of some American’s tax dollars, which fortunately wasn’t many Washingtons because most of the paycheck goes to my exorbitant pension, which I’m sure will be around come retirement time and isn’t contributing to any state or federal budget issues.

Five o’clock, eh? I could peel now and it’s not like my boss can yell at me. Or that anyone would. Mediocrity is the status quo around here. I’ll hit up happy hour with the Senate guys and drink off the rest of this hangover. I’ll be better tomorrow. I promise.

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Coach Taylor used to rock it in the collegiate athletic world, but is now relegated to the office where apparently cheering loudly over solitaire victories and reaching double digits on flappy bird (RIP) is frowned upon.

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