Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 7: How To Spot a Government Employee

Hey there,

As promised, today I will provide you with a short guide to recognizing
Government employees. Other than the standard "they're the ones not
doing anything" tell, I will guide you in some more, subtler, methods of
recognition. Where appropriate I will try and make special reference to
gender differences, though I would add that, in general, if you have
someone whose gender is debatable you may already have a government
employee on your hands. (It's Pat!)

Remember, not all Government folks are like this, but nearly everyone
who is like this is a Government employee. And, very rarely, you
might even find a "hottie" that is a Government employee. Odds of this
person being married? 93%.

A Government Employee:

1. What they're wearing.

With men, be on the lookout for tucked in short-sleeved button shirts, brown
nondescript shoes, maybe some goofy nylon socks, pants that aren't long
enough, pants that are several sizes too small and only fit around the
upper thigh (usually held on with a braided belt), glasses (too cheap
for contacts), and a badge on a necklace that is probably tucked into
their upper pocket. Another, slightly higher-class, variety you may
encounter would include cheap slacks (Penny's) and some sort of button
short with long sleeves tucked in. This person will definitely seem
more officious. In rare instances you might even see full suits (from a bygone era) or derby hats from the 1950's.

With Women, look for matching color "outfits" that are amorphous
enough to hide a variety of unsightly body shapes. Be on the lookout
for excessive jewelry, perfume, and makeup. Animal prints are common.
Expect to see a lot of capri-style, tight dress pants and a shirt with a
matching jacket. In extreme cases you might even see moo-moos and other
shower curtain like garb. Sandals are worn liberally, with no concern
for the actual physical appearance of the foot. Sometimes, bigger ladies
will wear exceptionally high heels, causing a "centaur" like sound to be
produced when strolling the halls.

2. Personal hygiene:

Both: lacking (severely). Expect toes that are gnarled, untrimmed
nails, and various illnesses and diseases that are untreated (cheap) and
not left at home sick. These people are notoriously stingy with their
leave, even though they receive more of it than even most Europeans.
Showers are infrequent and deodorant is optional.

3. Distinguishing personal features.

Men: military style buzz cuts are common. Not that they are
ex-military, this is just a cheap haircut to get. Also, thick "state
trooper" mustaches are fairly common. Obesity is the norm.

Women: Big girls in leopard print. Hairdos from generations ago (the
so called "stuck-in-time" effect). Obesity is the norm.

4. What they're driving.

Both: here you want to look for economical and value-driven choices.
You could probably pair the consumer reviews (emphasis on safety and
holding value) of a decade ago to find the cars that they drive now.
Men are likely to drive motorcycles, trying to preserve something of
their youth and masculinity. Corollas, Escorts, Mini-vans, and
second-tier SUVs are common.

5. What they're doing.

Both: not much. Gossiping, smoking, and making trips to the vending
machines are some of the more common activities. Also, they are most
likely going to be found at either a luncheon, a chili (or equivalent)
cook-off, some sort of bake-sale fundraiser, or a picnic. Expect to see
very little work done, but in fairness very little work is out there to
be done.

Well, that should be a good start for you. If you see someone
questionable and these tips haven't helped you make your decision,
clamor loudly for some more signs of a Government employee and I'll
happily oblige. There's really no end to the uniqueness of Uncle Sam's

* I wanted to add a disclaimer that there are, in fact, lots and lots of
Government employees who do not fit any of these stereotypes and are
intelligent, disciplined, hard-working folks. Sadly, they will most
likely be demoted and watch in horror as the worst of the bunch get
promoted to upper management.



  1. You really should mention the "3-yard stare." This is the ability to sit in front of rectangular objects (aka Computers)for extended periods of time and LOOK busy. Chances are the eyes are glazed over and the person is really just staring at the cubicle wall imagining possible methods of escape. If the lack of activity persists for several hours you may want to check for signs of actual breathing.

  2. Good point, turtl. Is it the same sort of look that men get when their wives tell them about all the bargains they found while shopping?
    ("ohmygod, and then i found this dress, that I'd seen two weeks ago, and I was watching it, and I was waiting for it to go on sale, and then it did go on sale, and then I had an additional 5% off coupon, and if I spent more than $100 I got even more off, so I bought these super-cute shoes I'd been looking at, which worked out great because it matched another dress I was thinking about getting, which I did get cuz- you know, the shoes- but it was okay because I had an extra 5% off...")