Subtle

Juggling three jobs was not easy. There was a full-time job on the rock pile breaking stone for Joltin’ Joe, the Endowment consulting assignments researching curricula, and teaching guitar in the evening at the church hall. I needed all three to keep up payments on educational loans, pay the rent, and have some money to take my fiancĂ© out once in a while. Since my fiance left to go to nursing school, a new hire had taken her place. The new hire, Sandy, was my first experience with a political hire. She had been engaged by my bosses to keep someone in City Hall happy. Knowing that she had a safe appointment, it was nearly impossible to get her to do anything beyond staring at the wall or granting me the occasional moue of distaste or displeasure. I was sure that part of her duties included tattling on me to Joltin’ Joe. I tested this early in the game by feeding her a tidbit and waiting till it came home.
I was saved by my advisory panel members – locals with interests in the programs we were producing and the research we carried out. Julia, a group member, was a veteran of many volunteer organizations. She advised that I “leave Sandy to us.”
Over months, the advisory panel members allowed Sandy to overhear snippets of gossip and fed her as much misinformation as she could absorb. One Portuguese liqueur store owner let slip that I was so desperate for money that I was clerking evenings behind the counter at his store. An Italian restaurant owner let slip that I was working at her restaurant in the afternoons when I was not in my office. Sandy had no filters and dutifully reported these fantasies to Joltin’ Joe.
Joltin’ Joe showed up for lunch several times at the restaurant and made purchases at the liquor store. Some of his sycophants followed up on other stories. Sandy lost credibility and was suspected of disloyalty. The one thing that a political hire cannot do is prove disloyal. Joe began to threaten her job.
Sandy was nearing the end of her ninety-day probationary period and was very likely to be fired. She truly needed the job, had no marketable skills and was pretty clueless. So I was surprised when my advisory panel suggested that we save Sandy from Joltin’ Joe- “she’s so much fun!” Julia quipped. The liqueur store owner concurred. The owner of the Italian restaurant was laughing in the corner. Joltin’ Joe had no friends in this group. Julia suggested that a few of them contact Margery, the assistant director. Unlike Joe, Margery had fans among my advisory panel. Calls got made, and Sandy retained her job. Subtly, it was suggested to Sandy how and who had saved her job. The blank stares continued, but there was many fewer Sarcastic Moue.