Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rita on Not Playing the Game

"I was young and crazy when I came to this country from Ireland 20 year ago. That is really the only explanation I can give for why I am here. I had lived in so many places in my life and wanted to try New York. After some time, I wandered down to Washington for work, but I don’t think I will stay. The British Isles will always be my home. 

"I came here to work for the federal government. I started as a statistician and now I work as an economist. I am not really interested in management or administrative work, but I found a nice fit doing research. I was really nervous about moving to Washington at first. Before moving here, I had only been here for anti-war marches. I would get on a bus at 4 a.m. to come down. All that I saw of Washington were the monuments and those austere style buildings. I had never seen a neighborhood, so I always associated this town with the issues I was here protesting. 

"I eventually did move here and found the neighborhoods, but it took me a long time to settle in because my Mom died after I moved, which was very sad. But I came to like the open spaces and arts and all of the activities you can do here, like hula hooping. New York can be very pushy and noisy, but that doesn't seem to be a problem here. I do miss the mix of cultures, like they have in New York. Here, you have to go, I don’t know how many subway stops, to actually find ethnic people and restaurants. In Brooklyn, you had it on most streets. 

"In New York, I used to work for the city government, mostly under the Giuliani Administration. At work, we used to talk about the government and politics and the mayor in our cubicles. We felt very open to speak our minds. With the federal government, you don’t talk at all about this stuff. People talk about the weather and the metro and their air conditioners instead. Sometimes, I think that things here are too controlled and people do not want to get out of line. A friend of mine keeps telling me that I have to learn how to play the game, though. It is not the people who work hard or speak their minds who get promoted, but the people who are always smiling and say, 'Oh, isn't everything so wonderful.' Basically, you have to be a total ass kisser. I like my job, but I prefer not to play the game."

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