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by Chris Sorrenti

our Director General is pretty proud of himself
the tours pass daily to see the results of his pet project
redesigning the floor using recycled materials
the paint alone coming at great expense
from halfway around the world

though now feeling like we’re living in a fish bowl
we in the Records Office wave and smile at the passers by
to their ohhs and ahhs as they take in the fresh colours
shiny new ergonomic work stations
also made from recyclables
a model of conservation…the new policy

this is after all the Department of Environment
up to us to set an example for the rest of the bureaucracy
if not the entire country and perhaps even the world
considering the ever-growing periods of time
our DG is absent globetrotting to deliver the nouveau gospel
of greening government

despite the new digs and surface contentment
our smiles mask a deep-seated frustration
at times even rage in how things have shifted against us
in our own immediate environment
an office of seven where no one sat around twiddling their thumbs
reduced to three
none of us below the age of 40

downsized in an exercise innocently titled Program Review
where generous incentives were offered
to older civil servants to leave early
positions cut to look good on paper
the only problem being that the work was still there
and not long after mandated programs began re-expanding
but our resources remained the same

despite our low position on the totem pole
there was a time we took pride in what we did
felt our work had real value
but those days are behind us now
as we three remaining each do the work of two or more
surviving in our own way one day at a time
putting out administrative fires when they need dousing
professionals to the end
learning to surf on an ever-expanding river of paper

© 2005
Revised © 2019

640 hits as of August 2023


Author's Note: The way things were in the not too distant past. In the Canadian Federal Government at least, things tend to work in cycles. There’s a newfound appreciation/respect for Information Management, especially in light of past scandals when records could not be located, when a Department was facing litigation. A law now exists making it a criminal offence to destroy government records without proper authorization. The work continues. We will rebuild. Update (2019): Although paper records continue to be used, in the years that followed writing this, they have gradually been replaced by electronic records, creating a whole set of challenges and solutions.

Posted on 05/23/2019
Copyright © 2023 Chris Sorrenti

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