Are You Sure You’re Supposed to Be a Public Servant? Really?

Do you ever wonder if you’re really, truly, most definitely supposed to be a public servant? Do you wonder if perhaps you should have stuck with the whole guitar thing and hit the festival circuit? Or perhaps opted for a highly lucrative career as a consultant? Or star of Vine?

Well, some folks (including me) have spent years wondering whether they really are supposed to building a career in public service. So whether you’re at the 5 month, 5 year or multiple decade mark of your professional life, here are the top indicators that you are indeed perfect for life as a public servant.

1. You stop and wait for ducks to cross in front of your vehicle.

Ducks. Toads. It’s all the same. You’re the one who stops and waits. And almost run out of gas – with the nearest gas station 42 miles away over an isolated, rutted, decommissioned logging road. As night falls. With one million mosquitoes swarming and biting. And your 25 year old station wagon making a new and frighteningly funny noise that does not sound at all good. Still, you wait, as a knot of toads crosses before you. You are a public servant.

2. You do not engage in express line excuses.

You do not engage in mental gymnastics by putting toilet paper, coffee filters and paper towel into one pile. You do not exclaim to your nearest express line neighbor, “Gosh, they’re all paper products, aren’t they?!!” Strategically keeping your tone level so the facade of a question mark cannot be detected by anyone within 20 feet of you and your carefully categorized categories. You are a public servant.

3. You can provide a detailed cost benefit analysis for each and every personal purchase over $500.00. $400.00. $150.00.

Yes, it runs to 6 pages and has 14 columns. Plus a risk register. You’re ready to justify your expenditures and you have mastered the art of the spread of the sheet. You are a public servant.

4. You fix your broken desk with duct tape, discarded file folders and gum.

Although your desk predates the information super highway, you do not feel that taxpayers should have to pay for you to have a new newer desk. You have dutifully learned to, not lean in, but lean to one side to make up for the ever increasing deterioration of your desk. You mark your calendar with desk adjustment time every 4-6 weeks. You feel fortunate that your chair looks like it came from the set of Mad Men. You are a public servant.

5. Your Instagram account is full of photos of your local park.

Not only are parks an important part of a complete neighbourhood, you actually know what people are talking about when they say “complete neighbourhood”. You use your park – a lot – and encourage others to do the same. You started the healthy yards program in your area. You brown bag it every day. And you access your Instagram account via your sister’s phone. When she isn’t looking. You are a public servant.

6. You do not write Top 10 lists.

You know that Top 10 lists are the product of people who have time for lunch. The same folks who have new desks. Because you believe in smart goals, you write Top 6 lists and then wait for edits from on high. Voila! You now have a Top 10 list. You are a public servant.

And so am I. Welcome. You’re going to like it here.

Tracy McCabe is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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