Thursday, March 20, 2008

and now i will very offensively explain why you hate your job

OK, so I've established that DC sucks on numerous levels -- the fashion, nightlife, architecture, and life at large, it all blows. But one thing I haven't fully bitched about yet is its workforce, which is by far the most depressed group I think I've ever collectively encountered. Think about it. How many DC residents do you know who absolutely *love* their jobs? I honestly don't know any. Sure, I know people who *like* their particular job or *love* what they do as a profession or craft, but most people are either tolerating their current professional positions or teetering on the edge of postal oblivion.

And because I'm a narcissist, I'll use myself as Exhibit A. I fall into two categories: I *love* my profession (writing is my cocaine), but I must admit I'm not in love with my particular position. In fact, there have been at least a set of fingers worth of times that I've wanted to stage a one-woman walkout. See, I may adore the written word, but I dislike writing about what my current professional beat has me covering. To keep it vague (ahem, for professional purposes, of course), I'll just say that I cover the shenanigans of what some say is a useless conglomerate of the U.S. government. (I'd give you a cookie if you guessed correctly to which department I'm referring, but I think I just made that too easy.) Anyway, the point is, like a lot of DC dwellers, I often find myself professionally frustrated.

At first, I thought maybe it was the subject matter that I hated. And, I admit, when I started writing about the brand of shambles churned out by this piece of the federal government, I loathed it. It had nothing to do with my academic background or my personal interests. In fact, I philosophically disagreed that this department ever should've been created. But while I still don't believe there is any value-add from this federal conglomerate, I have grown slightly more interested in the subject matter. It's kind of amazing (in the most depressing of ways, of course) to discover the kinds of programs over one-third of my paycheck has helped fund each month. So if it's not the actually work, per se, that makes me want to quit my job, then what is it?

That question is galactically easier to ask than it is to answer because, in all honesty, I don't think there is one single point besides my sheer ambition to become the most famous writer in the world (bwa-ha-ha!) that is the cause of my current professional strife. Instead, I think there are several sh*teous points. And by points, I mean other people (oh, you knew that was coming).

To accomplish anything that involves the government you have to deal with a lot of other people. For instance, just the other day I was pursuing a story about [REDACTED] because clearly this [REDACTED] piece of [REDACTED] is costing us [REDACTED] and the dumbass Secretary of [REDACTED] needs to realize that his bullsh*t [REDACTED] is probably actually making it easier for the terrorists whoops, I mean [REDACTED] to win. Anyway, in order to report on this story, I needed to contact the press office at the department I cover. And that's where my main qualms with my job begin and end.

Dealing with other people who hate their jobs (and I mean really, really hate their jobs) is a downer. I get that the U.S. government is not the most open these days when it comes to dealing with reporters, but seriously, you don't have to be purposely rude. And it would also help if you tried, you know, to do your job. Don't say you'll call me back right away with the information I need and then not do it. Don't promise to give me a scoop and then not do it. And for the love of your ill-fitting suits and rumpled dress shirts, please please don't make a face-to-face appointment with me and then mysteriously go off-the-grid for the two hours we were supposed to meet while I stand waiting in your lobby getting eyeballed by the security guard, who may or may not be ready to taze me just because he's bored. All that sh*t is not tight.

That kind of behavior is inexcusable to me. And, honestly, I think I'm giving salty government employees the benefit of the doubt here by portraying them as assholes rather than indolent incompetents. (Consider that a gift, government friends!) But for reals, I've conducted interviews, pursued stories and written extensively on various subjects in the past and never has it been so difficult to collect facts. While I'm sure there are exceptions, U.S. government employees for the most part are quarter- and mid-life curmudgeons. I don't get it.

OK, I do get it. Government employees are working for the U.S. government after all and, well, I know that amount of bureaucracy and protocol does not make for an enjoyable workplace (unless you're a major tool and you like that sort of thing), but their bad attitudes create such an unwelcoming environment that it makes me hate what I do. Not because I don't want to do it (like I said, I love to write), but because without adequate facts and information, I literally can't do my job and that's what makes it suck.

And while all my sh*teous experiences may sound specific just to the writing field, they're really not. In fact, I'm willing to bet good money (that I'd otherwise use to front a rousing game of street dice) that each and every one of you has had a similar experience, especially if you work in or with the U.S. government. But even outside of the U.S. government, other people's hatred of their jobs will make you hate yours too. Think about it. It doesn't matter if you work in the private or public sector. If those with whom you're forced to interact aren't pleasant, personable or, at least, entertaining, chances are it will affect how you view your job.

The biggest problem with DC, it seems, is that so much business revolves around the U.S. government that it creates this sort of succubus that violates nearly everything inside and even sometimes outside of the Beltway. And while it may seem harsh to equate DC's collective workforce with a she-demon who'll rape you in your sleep, that's kind of how it is. There's no easy way to escape it.

But, as they say, one man's rape is another one's good time (yep, that's a rape joke, my friends!) so I guess it's possible to look on the proverbial bright side. Besides, apart from diamonds, nothing lasts forever. Even your and my sh*tty jobs.


capitulatenow said...

Um: WORD. I, too, was just whine-blogging about government media affairs reps, and how they are shaving years off my life. Maybe something's in the air! Ha ha ha! Haaaaaa

Velvet said...

Don't get me started. I hate the government and all things it stands for. See, here's my take:

When one works in an industry where they are not motivated by profit, not reviewed on their ability to achieve profit, and rewarded with the same budget next year if they can find a way to blow it this year, then that person loses all creativity in my mind. I'd much rather have to get creative to make my business stay afloat then just run the status quo and never ben challenged.

Velvet said...

damn spelling errors. Mother f*cker.

BEEN. That word should have been BEEN.

Peter said...

My theory has always been that the rigorous testing process that gov't employees go through to even get their jobs in the first place is what results in our government being staffed by such odious stinkpant jerkwad dunderheaded mouth breathers. You take the foreign service exam? It's like it's designed to weed out interesting people.

Marissa said...


Your story hits close to home. I wonder if we're dealing with one of the same people...? Everyone should read her tale:


I tend to agree with you. I think there is no drive to use time or money wisely. It also doesn't help that there are so many undemocratic shady behind-the-scenes dealings when it comes to outsourcing money as well...n.e.p.o.t.i.s.m.


I don't think it's necessarily the testing process, but the vetting process that is the biggest problem.

Full disclosure: Not long ago, I was tapped by the CIA. Desperate for a job, I applied and made it pretty far down the douche line (like psychological exam far). However, I was told along each and every step that my "many years abroad" were "problematic," especially since I still have friends over there in the Evil Empire. I must say I was kind of relieved because, contrary to how it might seem, torturing people in secret prisons isn't really my thing.

But yes, they need to get over their backwards vetting process. I know another girl who knows a bunch of Central Asian languages (which you think would trump whatever the hell got her vetted) who also eventually was passed over.

Of course, my and this other girl's vettings were because we were to be in the covert end of things. I hear they'll accept anyone to become an analyst (as long as you haven't smoked weed in the past year!). In fact, I know at least two analysts who are assigned to study parts of the world that they've never been to or even really studied (i.e., one analyzes Russia and the only foreign language she knows is Spanish.) Really, this policy explains a lot: 1) Only hire those for international recon if they don't have any international experience or cultural awareness, and 2) Hire any idiot who applies to analyze the shoddy, incomplete information gathered. Now that's what I call a crack team! (Nice war we're in, right?)

It's too bad really, because intelligence is probably the only effective tool in actually stopping this whole "terrorism" business, in my opinion.

Anyway, all's well that ends well. And since I've vowed never to work for the government (unless of course I'm in elected that's a sweet job), I haven't taken the foreign service exam. I am thinking about it though because I just want to test my knowledge. Yes, I'm that much of a nerd. But in the case that I did pass, I'm sure I'd just go ahead and get vetted again. Zoinks!

Peter said...

... in the past year? How about, like, if it was just a little, and... uh... this morning?

Marissa said...


Um, what? Did this all happen in the past year? Yes. Like, a little? Like, probably not, maybe, what? And this morning? Well, maybe, depending on what that even means. What?

Shannon said...

I'm a former Foreign Service wife. Trust me, that life will eat your soul for dinner and have your willpower for dessert.