What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Busses. I spent more of the week than I want to admit thinking about busses. One of the “other duties as assigned” that landed on my desk years ago for reasons that still defy logic, is facilitating a couple of charter busses to haul people from the office down to DC for an annual trade show every fall. It’s a boondoggle that was happily suspended due to the Great Plague for the last two years. It’s back with a vengeance for 2022, though, so now I’m in a great paper chase to figure out what hoops must be cleared to reserve, pay for, and fill up a couple of busses for people who are mostly interested in walking the exhibit floor and filling their bags up with cheap giveaway swag. 

2. Duplicate names. I do my best when it comes to naming posts not to repeat myself. After 3,715 posts, though, some dupes slip through. It makes me absolutely buggy when I catch the site address reading something like jeffreytharp.com/duplicate-name-2. If I’d have had any idea that I’d be almost 4,000 posts deep all these years later, I’d have probably kept better track of titles as I went along, but it seems that ship has probably sailed. I’m certainly not going to go back and try to track it all at this late date. Just know, when you see a duplicate name it’s just a small thing that makes me want to burn down the whole internet. 

3. Reality avoidance. So, we have stubbornly high inflation, two quarter decline in gross domestic product, and a midterm election barely three months away. The president has released a statement saying, in part “we are on the right path.” It’s hard to imagine a more tone-deaf thing to say minutes after the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases their quarterly report indicating that we’re now in an economic environment that’s commonly called recessionary. In 1988, George H.W. Bush got throttled at the polls because he was out of touch with the domestic economy. In 1980, Jimmy Carter was turned out of office largely on the back of high inflation and negligible economic growth. I get that most people like to forget history, but if I’m a Democrat running in a competitive race in 2022, I’m scared to death that my party’s leaders are determined to avoid reality.

Lost Not Found…

As part of my highly specialized and important position, one of the duties I’m saddled with is performing oversight of a 750 seat auditorium. It’s like being on the event staff at a concert hall that never puts on an event more interesting than the 100-meter snooze or a Gregorian chant marathon.

In addition to approving reservations for such entertaining acts as Mr. Smith’s Retirement Ceremony and calling in service orders when the crack in the foundation starts leaking (again), about once a week I get to field calls from panic stricken people who have left something behind in my beautiful facility. We’ve turned up everything from briefcases, to iPads, to an entire box of key chains. More often, though, it’s a call about a cell phone or eyeglasses.

Today’s call, routed through a third party to me, inquired about a trifecta of loss – cell phone, ID card, and passport. I rolled my eyes and explained that no, no one had turned anything in matching that description. Knowing full well that the chances of any of these items being there were slim to none, I still schlepped down, unlocked the building, and poked around “where the guy thinks he might have lost them.”

Aside from a stray dime, my exhaustive search turned up nothing at all. The only thing it did accomplish is to set me thinking on what kind of human being goes the 40 miles between here and Baltimore without once realizing (or attempting to look at) his cell phone? Allowing that amount of time to elapse between checking in on the latest Tweets, posts, or headlines is just unnatural. Probably some kind of damned terrorist.


I am a professional; highly educated, certified, and experienced. I’ve forgotten more about this kind of work than most people know. Today, however, I am going to be a warm body filling a seat because someone at echelons higher than reality has determined that the most mission critical thing 500 of us can do is make sure the auditorium is full during a presentation.

I’m sure whatever this graybeard has to say will be very interesting and informative, but not at all relevant to any of the eight or nine assignments sitting on my desk waiting to get finished in a semi-timely manner. It’s all a matter of priorities, I suppose. In this case the priority is clearly on looking good rather than actually doing good. As long as I know that up front, I’ll happily adjust my expectations accordingly… and make sure my Kindle has a full charge.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

Gettin’ Down on Friday…

I don’t know that I’ve ever had what would be considered a “good” Friday in government service. Fridays are the day when everyone wants to extend their weekend. On any typical Friday you can expect at least a third of the staff to be somewhere other than in the office. It’s easily double that on a Friday before a scheduled 3-day weekend. This is bad for two reasons. First, in the event that something actually needs to get done, finding someone to do it is a challenge at best. It’s even more problematic if you want to find the right someone or even just a random body who has the actual skill sets you need. Good luck with that. In the event that there is no Friday crisis, you’re probably going to discover more common situation of there being absolutely nothing to do. Usually that will set in a few minutes after lunch.

You can only refresh cnn.com so many times before realizing you’ve already red all the articles. I mean, it wouldn’t be so bad if the IT guys didn’t block most of the really interesting sites. Alternately, you could listen to the guy next door tell the same old stories he’s been telling since the first time you met. If you’re really lucky, some of your equally bored colleagues might be up for a game of Words with Friends. Otherwise, you’re doomed to spend the next three hours trying to look like you’re busy enough that it keeps the boss from creating work for you to do… because really, if there’s anything worse than being bored, it’s getting saddled with random busywork.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.