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[SIC!] January 9, 2008
 
Your Letters
 
 

GONE POSTAL

Mark Ames,

I enjoy your eXile articles but didn't realize your book [Going Postal] came out in 2005. The last I remembered, the book was being promoted but hadn't been released. Today, I was reading old articles in the vault and found the article that promoted your book with excerpts.

As I read the story of Mr. Beck, I identified. As a government employee myself, I've been spending the last couple of days (years) obsessing off and on about moving to Cusco where, at the very least, it's okay to be poor and the scenery is fantastic.

Not that I'm poor, that's not really the point. Civil servant is a term to describe the fake role I (and many others) play at work. I am a nonconformist but competent so I just sort of blend into my environment and try to not rock the boat. The bulk of my job is maintaining office balance when it should be paying attention to the very detailed work I'm required to produce. Outwardly I'm friendly, even gregarious by some standards, but it's mostly a ruse. I'm well liked by many, an enigma to others but that's the only way I've found that works in absence of being one of 'them'.

People mostly just like me because I'm attractive, quick witted and entertain them with clever jokes. Mr. Beck didn't have that going for him.

Thankfully I don't have delusions of grandeur that include any sort of promotion but I'm starting to feel the full weight of my surroundings. This happens off and on.

I have actually written my own manuscript depicting the ridiculous occurrences I've endured or witnessed as a government employee. However, there is no way I can even attempt to publish it until I retire, quit or am fired. Publishing it would inevitably lead to the latter, possibly a nasty law suit, and I can't handle anymore stress.

So, it's the day before Christmas Eve, I'm growing more bitter by the day, I'm trying to apply all this "enlightenment" and "be in the moment" shit I've been immersed in to improve my mood and ultimately, my life. I took a Wellbutrin which mostly just gives me cotton mouth and that just leads to plaque build up and I am reminded as to how lucky I am to have dental benefits. Then again, if I was a trust fund baby, I'd probably not have a need for the Welbutrin in the first place and subsequently the Xanax that will follow later this afternoon.

I'm obviously way behind on my eXile reading as I stated before, so this morning I was playing catch up. Then again, since I can't sleep past 6am anymore, there isn't much else to do on a Sunday morning. I was happy to have something to occupy me.

As I read along empathetic to the plight of Mr. Beck, I came to this quote:

"I saw no prospect that my condition would ever be changed. Yet I used to plan in my mind from day to day, and from night to night, how I might be free."

--The Narration of Lunsford Lane, a slave memoir published in 1842

I was stunned by that quote, specifically to whom the quote is attributed. Then, I began to cry. Most people who work with or for governmental agencies know that the government tends to wind up being the personal playing field for whomever is in charge. They also generally know that if you're not one of 'them', then you're nothing and at the complete mercy of the powers that be. Even if you try to be invisible, a good employee, take pride in the work you do--you'd better be doing it for yourself because no one else will care.

I don't know how some of us wind up here. Worse, I don't know how to get out. I don't know why some people can handle the office politics and why others can't. Sometimes I think I'm just not grateful for what I have, but really, I am. It's the mental shit at work I'm subjected to that I can't handle. I'm just not equipped for it.

Perhaps I'm too much of an idealist. I'm smart, attractive, witty, I'm only 37, virtually debt free, blah blah blah, so in reality I have a lot going for me. Yet, I'm stuck, caught knowing (thinking?) that even though I work in a small building, the dynamic I encounter on a daily basis is literally a representation of a much larger picture. Over time, it does distort perception.


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