A career in government was not something that I planned on, but rather something that found me. I’d taken clerical courses in High School, winning a special award for my typing speed. Overall, I was an Honor Student, a member of many clubs, and on athletic teams. I was college and med school bound.
When I went away to a small private college on a hill in Iowa, I found that being a doctor was my mother’s dream for me and not my own. In fact, I had no dream, no plan, no direction. When I told my mother, we reached a point where we weren’t even speaking. So when my best friend who had relocated to California offered me a chance to not only vacation but also look for a job, I told my mother in a note I taped to the TV screen.
My first job was as a receptionist for a Road Department. Being who I am, I was curious about mag card readers and dedicated word processors and PCs, so I paid attention and I learned. An Engineer took notice of me and, when there was an opening for an Engineering Aide, he insisted I apply.
I got the job and, over the years, was promoted and promoted and promoted again. It wasn’t all at the same department, but it was always a local Road Department. I was one of the countless civil servants who have the worst thought of them by the public, a public who does not know us and how hard we work without complaint.
I cannot even say how many times I worked beyond my job description in all of the positions I held, sometimes even doing secret work for my boss’s boss and pretending I knew nothing about it. But I did the work because it needed to be done, and done well.
I hope to never be put under the kind of pressure that the former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, has been put under for months. I have a great deal of respect for her and the dignity with which she faced her trial by fire. I also know that for every Marie Yovanovitch there is a whole cadre of government employees who have worked for and with her, who are willing and able to stand up and speak their own truth.
Whether city, county, or federal, government employees are asked to not only do their best work, but to do it for their country, and not just for the pay. The people I worked with over the years were overwhelmingly patriotic while not being political. We put our heads down to ignore any political talk that may be taken on by our superiors and just did the work. And I stand proudly alongside any government employee who shows the gumption and cojones of the likes of Marie Yovanovitch.
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