THE COST OF WORKING IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE
Now, after 38 years of employment in government, I realized that my youthful estimation before would have served me correctly had I followed it but of course it is already too late. I have filed my retirement in the bureaucracy (Bureau of Corrections) and on the road to a, hopefully, exciting contemplative days ahead.
What about that estimation I was pondering before? It was something like this. I would enter government service and after 10 years will resign. Thereafter, I will work in the private sector for another 10 years contributing to my employer the experience and exposure I had in public service. After 20 years of accumulated work in organizations, I am more than prepared to take the task of confronting, this time on my own, the challenge of earning for my upkeep, through an enterprise I may wish to build and explore.
But I stayed in government not because I have forgotten my youthful thoughts. I got recognized for attending courses offered every now and then. And because of the recognition, my credentials grew and luckily (if not providentially for me then), senior officials in my office were already retiring one after another and vacancies were up for grab. Since I had the credentials and training, I got promoted almost regularly until such time I ascended and reached the top of the office where a few summers back I was a fledging rookie.
I could no longer back out. Why leave an institution that recognizes you? That is being avaricious and I was not trained by my parents to be one. And so, I deliberately set aside my thoughts of leaving after reaching the 10th year. Besides, I was enjoying the perks and power that went with the position as Chief (Chief, Reception and Diagnostic Center). I could flex policy matters and even introduce my style of work. I was more a provider of stress than its recipient. After all, I had a lot of notes and got oriented from the numerous training exposures I had before. Government service was a picnic even if, once in a while, politics would disturb the prevailing governance and stability of the working place.
After breaking the record of having been a Division Chief for 8 years and employed in government for an aggregate of 15 years already, I thought of retiring to pursue a career in the private sector. But another promotion (Penal Superintendent IV) was up and I was considered. That ended up my wish to have a shift in my profession. I was given a full senior rank and leaving it was for me tantamount to abdication or cowardice. Hence, I stayed on.
I was given one major assignment after another (posted in all major penal establishment in the country); and, at various times, floated, because I always find myself at logger heads with the appointed prison administrator. These appointees had a penchant of introducing their respective orientation in a specific zone which has its basic survival manifestations. A military administrator would look at the prison community as a congregation of enemies which must be controlled if not annihilated through hardship and torture. A police administrator would look at the prison community similarly but a convention of captives of socially sick individuals which must be tamed and governed. Outsiders with little background in prison work would simply take the task of managing the facility as if the inmates instantly become lily clean after they are received in the penitentiary and would blame every fault on the prison workers if anything goes wrong in the process. The program continuity would suffer a setback. My advisory would never be reckoned and instead would be interpreted as mongering. As a consequence, I would readily find myself occasionally in the freezer for thinking aloud.
To be frozen is not actually a period of lamentation for me. It was an exciting period for me to write my thoughts and accomplish so much. I had a lecture circuit most of the time, a published work for my agency and library, a consultancy to friends and most of all, I could watch all movies to my heart’s desire without gaps whatsoever and in the process, getting paid regularly without any formal responsibility to boot.
I stayed on since I was already getting old and a period with the private sector, should I resign, becoming dimmer by the day. I would just wait at the wings so that I would be able to file my clearances for early retirement. That means, no more work to attend, a time for family gathering, to pick up pieces where I left but time was not on my side anymore.
At a time when I could jostle a bonding session with my loved ones, Heaven was already busy claiming its roster. My mother passed away, followed by my father and recently my only sister. On top of that, my close friends would follow suit one after another leaving me with only a handful that I would barely see in their active form since most of them are regular habitués in emergency rooms of the hospital.
I have virtually spent the best years in the Prison Service and there is no lamentation. It may have cost my wish fulfillment ideas a bit dislocated but on the whole, the thought of serving a special sector of humanity is a worthy period and never a waste of time.