My 92-year old grandfather passed away a couple weeks ago. Along with my younger cousin, I was asked to give a eulogy, and was – naturally – more than happy to do so. After the service, many of my grandfather’s friends and distant relatives came up to talk to me and share stories. It was fantastic being able to chat with people who knew my grandpa and to get more insight into his life.
After a brief chat, one gentleman asked what I do for living. After I told him I work in communications for the federal government, he went on an anti-government rant that lasted a couple minutes.
Directed at me.
At my grandfather’s funeral.
What he said is not important. It did however, get me thinking: has the anti-government sentiment – that seems to be shouted a lot louder lately – gotten so out of control that people feel it’s acceptable to chastise a government employee at any time or in any place? Including the funeral of a loved one? Shouldn’t that be the one place where ALL opinions are left at the door?
I wondered if this attitude toward government workers could impact government recruitment efforts. I’m sure there are qualified people who would be fantastic employees who may never apply for a government job as a result of comments they have heard directed at government employees.
I’ve worked for the federal government for more than a decade. My mom has been a federal employee for almost three decades, and my dad works for a company contracted by the state of Indiana. I have a cousin who works for the city of Minneapolis; another works for the state of Minnesota. I grew up with an aunt and a grandmother who were public school teachers, and have a cousin in that line of work now. Public service fuels almost every faction of my family.
I didn’t respond to the gentleman at my grandfather’s funeral – I wasn’t in the mood for debate. Had I been, I would have told him I think the government is a great place to work and build a successful career – as several of my relatives would also attest. The employees I know receive training and guidance to be successful on the job, and many enjoy long careers. I have job security and benefits that allow me to lead a happy life. I’ve worked with some of the most talented and amazing people I’ve ever known.
All that, and I am also able to help – truly help – the citizens of this great country.
How many people can say all that?
So, govies…What would you have said to my funeral friend?