My Mother’s Advice

I have to get this off my chest. I have a strong memory from when I was a kid, probably the 2nd or 3rd grade, standing around in our big kitchen talking with my mother. Somehow, we were discussing jobs. I have no idea why this topic had come up, but I do remember talking about one of my favorite places in town, the Post Office. My Uncle Al worked there. He had been a police officer but then switched careers to work for the Post Office. Everything about the Post Office was great — I loved the building and the large WPA murals, especially the one of John Brown who had lived in my town. I loved looking at the “wanted posters,” and the high counters, and how much like a bank it felt. I loved banks, too.
 
When talking about my Uncle, my mother used the phrase, “Civil Servant,” and I didn’t know what she meant. It’s funny that I remember her saying that phrase. She then told me that if, when I grew up, I took a test and got a job with “The Government,” it would be a “good job.” From what I knew then, a “good job” was one that paid you well and gave you “security.” I thought that meant you didn’t get fired.
A “good job” was nice, but “I remember wondering if I could get a “big job.” Important people had “big jobs.” My Aunt Bea always talked about people with “big jobs.” But the part of the conversation that impressed me most was when my mother said, “If you get a job with “The Government,” “The Government” will take care of you.”
“The Government” will take care of me? I figured it must be a big deal to become one of these Civil Servants, because you have to take and pass a test. I knew Uncle Al was a smart man. The test part scared me. But my mother assured me I would get a “good paycheck and have insurance.” I remember feeling happy that my mother thought that I could pass this test. I had no idea where one took the test, but I figured she would tell me when I was older.  
I remember, too, wondering about the insurance part. The only insurance I knew about was the [life] insurance payments my parents made to the man from “The Insurance Company” every month. He drove to our house in a nice car wearing a suit and a smile. My parents had a little payment book and he would fill in a page every time they paid him. They would sit around the kitchen table. I liked him. He gave me and my brother a shiny new penny every time he came. When my mother talked about insurance with “The Government” job, I didn’t know if she was referring to another Insurance Man, but I figured it must be important. I also especially remember thinking it would be nice to work for the Post Office in that fabulous building, just like my Uncle Al.
 
As I reflect on this, I find myself thinking something sad. There have been a few moments during some very difficult times over the years that I have thought, “I’m glad my father/ mother isn’t here now to see this.” I especially thought this after 9/11; my dad, a World War II veteran, died in 1996. I remember feeling strongly that the horrors of that awful day and the ramifications of what happened would have been so overwhelming, so upsetting for him, that I would have had to shield him from them somehow.
My mother died several years ago. And today I find myself thinking, with profound sadness, “I am glad my mother isn’t here right now to witness this shutdown.” Many people, including a close family member, work for “The Government.” Someone I know not only has a “good job,” he has a “big job.”  But he can neither work nor be paid.  My mother’s trust, her faith, her knowledge that “The Government” will take care of you, has been proven false. This shutdown would have rocked my mother to the core.
 
I know it’s rocking me to my core.
Kathy Galgano
January 15, 2019
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The Real Crisis

Kathleen, Can we talk?; terrible news; read the email carefully (don’t skim); Please, don’t click delete; Absolutely urgent; DISASTROUS; The next two years are on the line; Today’s critical deadline; NEVER in US history (completely unprecedented); DEADLOCKED; Photo finish;  Not an option – DON’T DELETE; All is lost; It’s going to come down to you, Kathleen;  disappointed; Kathleen!;  I need your help, Kathleen!; DISASTER; DEADLINE: Add your name if you live on Earth; I’m relying on you Kathleen; This is disgusting;  lost cause; All is lost; We’ve lost; All Hope is Lost; Doomsday.

And to think I woke up in a good mood. These emails litter my inbox daily.

“Shoot. Again? All hope is lost… again?”

Political action groups, political parties, U.S. Representatives, Senators, even the Prez send me missives. I wrote in a previous post that the Prez and I are good buds because we are on a first name basis. Nothing’s changed there.  I realize that folks sitting at their computers at home or at favorite coffee shops all over the place are being paid a pittance for these emails, and they are grasping at straws to find new sensational wording to get my attention, but really, is this necessary? Haven’t people ever read the story about the boy who cries “wolf!”?  What a waste of time and resources.

Usually, my responses are about as thoughtfully crafted as the emails themselves. “Idiotic!” “Are they kidding?” “What imbeciles!” “How stupid.” “Ridiculous.” “They’re off their rockers!”

Routinely, I delete the lot of them, but once in a while I take a peek. Just last week the Prez thanked me for my help, (What help?) and I could tell he doesn’t read my blog. For the umpteenth time, if I donate money, my name will be entered into a drawing and I could meet the President. This is all routine. Here’s the part that got to me; the missive said that POTUS wants to meet my parents! I just shook my head. These people sure have their demographics wrong.  I am the parent!  My folks are dead. I am not a twenty-something.

“Get it together, people! If you have to send stupid emails, at least target the right group!”

I started getting these emails as I wrote to elected officials a year ago pleading with them to end the government shutdown. I wrote to everybody, and so these responses are fallout from my kitchen grassroots campaign. My letters were impassioned, yes, but they were also respectful and, I believed, well crafted. Could it be that my kitchen campaign of activism has caused a dramatically different and unexpected outcome?

While I look forward to reading the rare but newsworthy and interesting political updates, I could care less about all these “crises.” I am not giving a dime. I am not signing petitions. I am not sending hate mail. I am not reading these missives. I don’t care about them. I am rapidly losing interest in the process. Yes. I mean it!

Of course, the campaign finance rules need to be changed. Yes, real work needs to be conducted on Capitol Hill. But does everyone really need to air their dirty laundry every single second? Can’t elected officials do one thing without calling everybody they know? Sure, there are days that go from bad to worse to really downright lousy, but is it every single day? We vote. We elect officials to do the business of our country. So just do it already, and stop bothering me with the petty stuff.

The sheer number of these nonsensical emails barraging my inbox for a year now is making me numb – well, emails, sound bites, news, all of it reflecting the reality that nothing gets done anymore. But my inbox is my personal domain and I don’t need groups and individuals harassing me every second of the day. I can feel my drive for activism being shut down.

Now that’s a crisis.

Kathy Galgano

October 15, 2014