Yesterday I lost my job.
I received a phone call at 4:50 pm on Tuesday. (Classy, eh? After three years, they let me go over the phone.) I was informed that my clearance had been denied and that I was to be escorted out of the building, at which time my badge would be taken from me.
I sat there on the phone, conferenced in with my boss and some contractor goons, speechless. My boss tried to piece together what had happened. Except that no one knew why my clearance was denied because the numbskulls in security wouldn’t tell them due to privacy laws. All well and good except they wouldn’t tell me either unless I filed a Freedom of Information Act request. Which, like everything else in the government, takes months.
So, having no idea why, I walked out of the building with all my work-related belongings in a cardboard box. On my way to the street, I got a call from Mat that he had gotten a flat tire on his way to pick me up. Lovely.
So I caught a cab home, had a beer and talked with Mat. What could it be? I know I can be a teensy bit critical of this Administration and a tad anti-Republican, but could they deny my clearance because of it? Once, a friend called me at work to tell me how a mutual friend had bought some unnamed illegal substances outside their place of business. Could “they” have been listening in and miscontrued my involvement? I was late paying some federal student loans seven years ago because my deferment hadn’t gone through yet. Could that make me a national security threat?
Today, my project manager called to tell me she was going to fight it if I was up for it. She worked with her security officer to check my application and it turns out there was nothing derogatory in my record. Let me repeat that. There exists nothing in my life, political or otherwise, that the government could contrue as a threat to our national safety. Apparently, this was a case of stupid bureaucratic people repeatedly dropping the ball and pointing fingers. How surprising. In the government, you say? No!
Unfortunately though, the fact that my clearance was denied through no fault of my own does not change the status of my job. It seems that our contracting office had been sent a letter in August 2004 that I was to be dropped from the contract because my clearance was “unfavorable” due to the fact that neither my employer nor the government ever followed up on my application. But no one received the letter. So I’ve basically had a job by the grace of Allah for the last ten months. Good thing too, since I was buying a house in August 2004.
So everyone’s planning on “fighting it”. Glorious as it sounds that translates to “filing more paperwork”. Needless to say, I need to find another job. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. I had been wanting to make a career change. Just not this soon and not like this. But maybe this will give me an opportunity to steer in a different direction. Take a little time to find the right job.
I was really upset at first. Then I was angry and annoyed. Now I’m feeling pretty good. After all, nothing beats having to take a few days off through no choice of one’s own. (I’m trying not to think of what might happen if a few days turns into a few weeks or months.)
My friend at State told me he’s going to boycott our meeting today and “protest the travesty by chanting through the halls, ‘Free Emily! Free Emily!’” A former colleague heard about my situation and offered to scare me up some web work. and my now ex-boss claims he’ll be able to get me some hours doing some writing and work on their website. So I should be able to make due for a little while. And it’s amazing to feel so much support.
My dad keeps calling to check up on me and make sure I’m staying positive. He made an impromptu visit last night after dinner. He was convinced it was my politics although I kept telling him the right-wing nutjobs are the policy wonks not the low-level agents. And if they had established a policy directive to deny clearance to anyone critical of the neo-cons, then you’ll be damn sure I would call a lawyer. I’d be hawking First Amendment rights from here to Tinseltown.
Anyhow, we now know it wasn’t anything so sexy and exciting as denial of free speech. So he spent the next few hours retelling the story of how he got “deseg’ed” when he was a Baltimore City teacher in the Seventies. Then he went on to explain that he’s on an anti-cussing diet. He’s been not cussing for a few weeks now and he misses it. He really enjoys making the compund cuss-word combinations. And he’s good at it. He taught me to cuss, after all. But he feels good about quitting. He’s been in danger of falling off the wagon (the fucking wagon, if you will) a few times and he especially misses it when he hangs out with this friend Dina. But he’s hanging in there.
Somehow that segued into a story about how the sewage system in his office in Tampa backed up:
“I was laying in bed and I heard this sound: glohoolk glohoolk glohoolk. So I got out the plunger ’cause that’s what I’m good at and I plunged away at it for a few hours. I wasn’t getting anywhere so I finally called Piranha Plumbers. They came out and started whacking away at it with the snake. Then they started working on the exhaust pipe that goes up to the roof. You know the one where if you let one go, you could really knock someone off the roof? Then they decided the clog was in the pipe in the ground. Oh frig, I though, they’re going to have to bust up the front lawn. But they found an access panel in the driveway. And fortunately, it was made of plastic. Not that Orange Angel stuff they used after the war when they had a copper shortage. You know what I mean? Orange something. Anyway, so they took one whack at the sucker and Kabloom! And up through the ground came a bubbling crude! TAMPONS, that is! TAMPONS! There were TAMPONS and shit, I mean “poo”, everywhere! And it was spewng up five feet like an oil geyser! Then it started running into the gutter and down the street. So we started cleaning that shit up. And the guy said you gotta take all that shit and tampons and dig a hole in the backyard and dump it in the there. So that’s what I did. I dug a hole in backyard two feet deep and dumped all that shit and tampons in there. Then the guy said, ‘you know what you need is bleach. You need to get about 4 gallons of bleach and pour it down this pipe and in the street. Otherwise, it’s going to reek to high heaven in the morning.’ So I thought, where the hell am I going to get 4 gallons of bleach in the middle of the night. Eckerd’s! So I went to Eckerd’s and loaded up a cart with 20 quarts of bleach and got in line. And I’m standing there in line waiting and they’re all kind of looking at me and finally the guy behind me says, ‘so did you kill a man or something?’ And I said, ‘no, I didn’t kill a man. I just have a bunch of tampons and shit to clean up.’ So I did. I went home and dumped the bleach down the pipe and it did the trick! Then, the next day, you know what I put in that hole in the backyard? You know what I put there? A tree! I dug down about a foot and a half. Just above the schmegma. And I planted a tree in there. And Liz called last week and said the tampon tree is doing great!”
So here ends my story of shit and more shit. If you know of a non-shit job I can have, let me know. Thanks.