I…..Am A Public Employee

I am a “public employee”.   Why do you hate me?

With SB5 and all other public and political agenda’s focusing on big change and big savings we “public employees” are being pointed at and pointed out.

There seems to be this illusion that public employees are “gettin’ rich” off of the tax payer.  AHEM.  “We” are tax payers as well.  I don’t know what all of the finger pointing is about.  But I’d like to tell you who your “public employees” are.

We…are you.

We are your neighbors.  We grew up with you.  Went to the same schools as you.  Attend the same churches as you.  We shop at the same stores as you, looking for bargains, like you.   Dollar General rock on!

Our children go to school with your children.  We pay for childcare like you do.  We all sit together to watch our children in their school programs.  Or yell our silly heads off as we cheer for them on the sporting fields and courts.

I do have some answers to some of the accusations and questions and finger pointing.

I do pay for my health insurance.   So does everyone I work for.  I’m very pleased to have health insurance and don’t mind paying for it.  I do accrue vacation time.   And the reason I have so much has nothing to do with it being unreasonable.  It has to do with not being able to take it off.  It’s difficult to take time off because our staff has been drastically cut back.   There have been about 100 people cut from our work force in the past ten years.   The work load has increased but the staff to handle your calls, your inquiries, your need for assistance has just as dramatically increased.  And of the job that is done, you only see a small fraction of it.  For every phone call you make or I make, or face to face visit we have with you…there is a tracking system that must be attended to and follow up for everything.   It is the government.  And for everything we do it has to be documented thrice.

Something else I’d like you to know.   None of the “public employees” I work with complain about having their job.  Not a one.   They work here, they take work home (that they are not paid for) and they work in the community when everywhere they go people know what they do, so they address questions and problems to be helpful to their neighbors, friends and family.  And we don’t mind doing this.  Because it is helping someone.  Which is what we do.

We do the same thing you do.  We go to work to get a paycheck.  Our paycheck has to pay our bills.  We have the same expectations that you have.  We have mortgages or rent, utilities, car payments, gas (!).  We have families that depend on us.  We have young children, or older children who are also struggling in this economy.  We have to buy our food and make our budgets work.  Just like you do.

I’ve not had a raise in at least 6 of the last 10 years.  My insurance has gone up, as have all of my deductions.  So my pay is less.  And I am not complaining.  I am grateful for my job.  I am grateful I can go to work and help someone.  Because that is what my job is about.  It is not always pleasant, but sometimes it is.  It is not always easy, but some moments are easier than others.   It is a job and responsibility I take very seriously.  I will cancel my personal life to attend to a crisis at work before I will cancel work to stay home sick.  Staying home sick or taking vacation puts more burden on my co-workers.  So I use any time off as wisely as possible.

As public employees we are asked to donate, to give, and to do-to help others.  And I don’t mean as part of our paid duties.  But as a compassionate and giving donation of our time and/or money.  Because others are suffering or just need a hand up.

Most “public employees” are not the people you hate.  Most of us, are just like you.   We drink our coffee on the way to work.  We answer calls, do what our bosses tell us to do, get up/sit down/type/investigate/provide/counsel/protect and look for ways to help those who need help.

I treat you with dignity and respect.   Even when you are yelling at me.   I give comfort when you are sad.  I acknowledge your anger and frustration at this crazy world.  And I empathize with you about this crazy world.

But it’s our world.  It’s what we have.  We’re trying.  We really are, to do the best we can.  Our job is not any easier because we are “public employees”.   For every 1 public employee that you are mad at there are 500 of us you don’t know and don’t see.  And not getting rich off of our tax dollars.

I would never wish away your job.  I would never wish away your income.  I would never hope for something bad to happen to your well being, your security, your job or your life.

I am a public employee.  And I want your life to be good.   I don’t hate you for needing my help.   Why do you hate me for being here to help you?

I wish you nothing but good.