How do you cheer up a pay-frozen fed, doing a tough job in an unpopular government while he/she is being furloughed through no fault of their own?
What you don’t do is tell them things could be worse. That’s like the modern-day equivalent of telling an aristocrat facing the guillotine that the ax that’s about to fall is really sharp!
And don’t tell people that maybe these are the good old days. Right now. Today. That this is as good as it gets. Because when the politicians get through with them, they may look back fondly to the time (now) when their biggest worry was a pay freeze and a few furlough days here and there.
That was the purpose of yesterday’s column, which reminded people that as bad as things are, they could get worse. That in the near future, layoffs could replace furloughs, and that take-home pay could be chopped by White House/congressional plans to force feds to pay more for retirement and take on a bigger chunk of their health premiums.
While that may be true, and while my motives were pure, it wasn’t fun-Monday reading, as this IRS manager points out:
“Mike — as if coming in on Monday morning isn’t depressing enough! C’mon, man, you’re killing me here.
“I always start my Monday morning with the ritual — sip my hot coffee, start up the computer, glance at the email, start to ease into the day with a read through Causey. It’s the only way I can face Monday morning. Today, I’m struggling not to log off, grab my bag and run for home (or the hills, I’m not sure, that might be preferable).
“As if being a front-line manager for the most hated government agency EVER isn’t hard enough at any time (yes, I work for the IRS), in the current climate, coming in to work is like begging to be whipped. Yes, yes, I’m grateful for the paycheck blah, blah and all that (and I’ll tell you, the reason I’m emailing you directly instead of posting a comment is because I didn’t want to get blasted by your other readers with those lines, ‘be grateful you’re still working,’ ‘look on the bright side,’ ‘cheer up! It’s got to get better,’ ‘Don’t worry about things you can’t control,’ and all those other stomach churning platitudes of the relentlessly positive crowd). I know it could be worse, although I cringe saying that, because what usually happens when I do, is that things DO get worse.
“My one little bright spot, that makes it possible for me to transition from life as a human being (otherwise known as my “off work hours”) to life as whipping girl, for my employees, my boss, IRS leadership, taxpayers, Congress, the media, is reading Causey. I get some information, some interesting speculation, some humor, and usually some small feeling that someone out there understands and sympathizes and maybe even would like things to be better for us less-than-human federal employees.
“Today, wow, reading your column, entertaining the perspective that THIS is as good as it’s ever going to get, thinking that I might some day look back on this and remember it as the ‘good times,’ — well even allowing for the fact that we all look back and gloss over the bad things and focus on the good things (otherwise, no one would ever have more than one kid, right?) — even allowing for that hard-wired human tendency, I’m just wondering how I’m going to make it through the day, let alone the week, the summer, the fiscal year … I’ve got way too long until I could hope to retire, this is just more than I can bear!
“I’m wondering if I could use your column as my rationale for taking sick leave the rest of the day. Except that all the dreaded tasks sitting here, including the phone calls to taxpayers threatening me and my employees with lawsuits, news conferences, and more — they’d still be here tomorrow. That’s it, I’m heading for the hills. I’ve never been a ‘survivalist’ type but I’m starting to think underground bunkers for IRS employees might not be a bad idea.
“For the love of whatever gods you hold dear, DON’T use my name or location (it’s a very small office. I’m the only on-site manager) in any columns. I’d have to join Mr. Snowden in that Moscow airport, and my Russian is very rusty.” IRS Lady — Somewhere in America
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