Be a Civil Servant

Stan Patt,  ideal civil servant. by rlz
Stan Patt, ideal civil servant. by rlz

Are you looking for a position with long-term job security? Wish you had all those Federal holidays off? Think it’s about time you fed at the public trough, too? Well, come with me, as I show you how to become the perfect civil servant! (And enjoy even more at rickzworld.)

To begin with, to be a good civil servant, you have to be . . .well, civil . . . and, uh . . . a servant! That is, you have to develop an amiable social demeanor, while minding your tongue and your temper. And you have to be willing to do just about whatever your superior tells you. (No going postal!) To temper your temper, first take a really awful position where you are sure to be subjected to customers’ constant verbal abuse — something like Complaints Dept. manager, or IRS auditor, or proctologist. Over time, you’ll build up your immunity to constant haranguing, until nothing ever fazes you. Develop your tolerance for slavery by training in a lower-than-low job, like assistant night shift manager at White Castle or new guy on a janitorial crew.

Next, be reasonably honest. No, you don’t have to be perfect; prevarication, petty larceny and pomposity are all acceptable. Just don’t be the type that goes in for the big stuff: assault with a deadly weapon, blackmail, graft, serial adultery, pederasty, etc. If you’re playing in those leagues, you should be going for elected office, where those skills might do you some good!

Then practice smiling at everyone. And I mean everyone, even that guy next to you with four teeth, five comb-over hairs, horse-pucky in the treads of his Doc Martens, and breath that would strip your grandma’s favorite bureau. Only when you’re able to keep a sickly rictus plastered to your gob while facing down humanity’s most inhumane are you able to deal with the public.

Perfect mind-numbing tasks. Repeatedly count from 1 to 9, slowly, then count backwards again from 9 to 1, equally slowly. Alphabetize your sock drawer. File your nails — under ‘N’ for nails. Get used to this kind of work, because that’s all you’ll be assigned throughout your entire civil service career.

Set your speed at low or idle. Whoa, buddy! What did you think this was? Entrepreneurship? Profit Motive? Are you kidding? This is civil service, where moving too quickly and getting things done too well can only make all the other G-3’s look bad. You gotta go along to get along, and that means slow down. After all, you want to be sure that your job is still necessary 30 years from now, don’t you? Especially when your kid needs a job!

Develop a tolerance for mediocrity. Set a low bar. Along with your low speed, set low expectations for low quality. That way, you’ll never be called out for poor performance — anyone can hit these marks! Besides, if you ever did happen to ramp it up, you’d probably get a commendation AND a grade change and the pay raise that goes with it.

Dress down. Think it through — what wardrobe looks best in a fluorescent-lit room of off-khaki walls, barf-patterned carpet, olive-drab desks, cheapo knotty-pine paneling wainscots, orange doors, and pictures of Garfield the cat at every third cubicle? So heed the call and suit up in appropriately dismal yet clashing hues and prints.

Learn to speak bureaucratese. Optimize your managerial stratagems to boost throughput. Develop synchronicities of assessed net priority. Show co-workers you’ve marginalized any latently defective charting, and peaked your next quarter’s base expedience. You get the picture. Trust me — it’s easier to learn than French, and a lot more useful.

Get life out of your system, now. That’s right — you heard me. No more tequila nights, rock n’ roll weekends, Harley adventures or paragliding in Cozumel! No more thinking you could make it on American Idol, or playing in the NBA. Once you embark on a life as a civil servant you can’t ever go back to being an uncivil self-starter of any kind! So, party hearty and get it over with!

Find a small burg in the south and take charge! Now, all that’s left to do is target that sleepy little township in semi-rural Florida or Texas or Alabama or New Mexico that needs some low-level functionary — streets superintendent or water department inspector or zoning board clerk or town crier or something. Go where the fishing is good, the po’ boy sandwiches cheap, the beer cold — and the paychecks endless — and enjoy your trailer home and lawn chair in Paradise!

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Comments 2 comments

gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

To rickzimmerman: You have described civil service to a T. Excellent hub! I have worked in state civil service for twenty-six years and I can verify this. Also add the long breaks and constant union interference especially if you want to terminate a less than satisfactory employee. Hah, you cannot do this easily.

Good employees are not rewarded in civil service but the inept ones are! Did you know that in state civil service, because of unions, no employee can get beyond satisfactory on his/her evaluation! Yes, civil service sucks to big time. My advice: stay away from the "gray" job.

rickzimmerman profile image

rickzimmerman 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio Author

Thanks, gm. Nice to know I hit the civil servant nails on the heads.

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