President Clinton’s “reinventing government” left me among the non-employed. I was in my mid-forties with a profession (Anthropologist), that needed more than five words to describe its purpose. Not fitting convenient job descriptions I soon became one of the long-term unemployed. Desperate to pay my bills, I followed a newspaper ad to the local United Parcel Service hub and soon found myself loading trailers for five hours a day.
Contrary to expectations, I found that I enjoyed both the physical labor and the work’s directness. Goal? Load that trailer.
Gone were the endless meetings over turf and program trivialities—no more settling inter-office disputes. In the government, I had started to create an entirely new program. I was “in the field” lots doing honest work with traditional craftspeople and looking for innovative ways to present them to the public. But success is a dangerous thing. Two years on, I had an assistant, staff, contractors, volunteers, and interfaces with other governmental and non-governmental agencies.
When we were “reinvented” out of existence – I rejoiced. Summer and fall of boatyard work took five pounds from my waist and eliminated the physical signs of stress. The only problem was that these jobs paid no benefits, and my family needed a healthcare package. UPS provided this and much more.
I was a bit of an enigma to my fellow workers. They were amazed that I had run an entire federal program ( small, of course) and now happily loaded parcels and towed freight around with them. After all, what was preferable loading tons of valuable packages on their way to meet people’s needs? Or- shoveling tons of verbiage into one more idiotic “Position Paper” destined for some GS-14’s waste bucket only to find the program canceled at the whim of a politician?