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Six Phases

November 2020

Moving into my Dream House has occurred in phases. During the initial phase of unpacking the first phase (of many) of the first allotment (of many) of all of the Stored Stuff that has been in Mini-Storage for almost three years . . . .


I came across my little Lane cedar chest souvenir box. The small treasure trove of personal mementoes was a delight for me to re-discover. I’d been trying to remember some of the more laughable info that was stored in it. One welcome sight was the 3x5 note card of the 6 Phases of a Corps of Engineers Study.


The original list was also there, written in pencil on a small slip of paper sometime during the late 1980s. The graphite has faded considerably.

What has not faded are the memories of the jovial jokes and cherished camaraderie that I shared with so many wonderful people at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, during my extremely productive years of working there for almost a decade. Those were the days of our lives, and many of us did not realize those days were part of a vanishing era: going to lunch together as a harmonious group; expressing our joy in this nation, regardless of how we did or did not vote; laughing at life and each other and ourselves — laughing!


Most of us had good manners because, well, good manners were not only a part of how we were raised, but politesse formed a part of our success, at work, at home, anywhere. Rude, obnoxious people were shunned in those days. Presently, rude obnoxious jerks and jerk-ettes get the floor, monopolize the mike, hog the headline, hoard the attention, and drive the rest of us — wayyy back in time, into our private lives, into our houses, anywhere — just to get away from the noxious noise and the pestilence that all too often represent humanity.


And yet those miserable beings are NOT humanity, not in America, not in England, not in Europe, not in India, not in South America, not in Africa, not anywhere. The crude rude ruffians of life are what they always have been, mean-spirited losers. Within the past few decades, however, those annoying malcontents infiltrated and infested the Media, the Universities, and the Offices of far too many agencies, businesses, industries and retail companies.


We, the busy worker bees, had to contend with the dismal drones of office lazydom and their pompous whiney threats of lawsuits — if you dare to silence them. And yet they believe they fully have the politically-correct and faux-morally superior right to silence you!


The phase of the good-hearted being silenced by the potty-mouthed is coming to a long-awaited end in America, home of the free and the brave. The innovative salt-mine landscape is where the fearful and the cowardly and the creepy used to crawl with impunity over the backs of decency, in the name of indecency!


The hypocrites have finally been unmasked. This Halloween ushers into the U.S.A. a phase of freedom of emotion, thought, word, deed, heart and soul. The deluded demented dullards keep recycling their vicious insulting lies, but, somehow, the fraud isn’t working anymore.


During the past decade, my dear dear friend and former proofreader very often asked me why there’s no more fun anymore in any offices. No jokes, no camaraderie, no smiles. I somberly explained to her that there’s not much real work done anymore in those offices. The fun accompanies the good job done. Once the merriment got stomped out by the humorless phonies, the eager beavers and their talented productivity went out the door with it.


She didn’t understand how all of the non-technical stupid glum people came to outnumber the smart, savvy lively technical employees. The explanation that I offered to her inspired more than a few essays on this website, and it just might have inspired my friend toward more independence in her life.


During the Columbus Day weekend of 2013, I wrote THE GHOST. This dear dear friend was very excited about my latest penned creation. She nonetheless stated:


“Here I am trying to finish a report I’ve been working on for 4 years. And you write a novel in a weekend!”


I explained to her in all honesty that the novel was short; and that I’d been compiling research materials for a draft for almost a year; and the genesis of this book was long-standing. I also work alone, whereas she had to engage in the group-work that ensures not too many results are achieved.


I reminded her of the sarcastically libertarian Mr. Hourigan, a draftsman at the Corps, and his two signs posted by his engineering table:


I will never ever become a Bureaucrat.


It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys.


She sadly agreed, and then she told me the real disgust of her present employment situation (Job). As the highest-paid employee, and as the Supervisor (Directress), she was surrounded by the True Believers. They were freaking her out. She was having trouble eating and sleeping because of the In-Your-Face Hatred she was experiencing, daily, if not hourly — from subordinates!

I advised her to smile among the insane!


My efforts also became focused that weekend, as they had during the previous year, on convincing this once-feisty woman to leave that job and return whence she came, a position with the largest agricultural water district in the state of California. I’m not really sure what did the trick, but by Halloween, she was trick-or-treating with her former employer. She still had to endure her next-door neighbors, women who believed themselves witches. They said they were part of a Coven.


I wonder to this day how many other American Workers have persisted through similar stress tests of simply going to the Office to earn a paycheck, submitting quietly to the daily grind of hostility, and wearing a face of noble indifference that constituted more than a Halloween mask that they donned, in public, year-round. I wonder if the Work-At-Home provisos of the past year have freed plenty of American Workers to find their productive endeavours happily and calmly increased, even if the pets and the kiddies interfered with their work.


I wonder if this nation is on the verge of discovering how to work, not with and for the Group, but away from the Group that has ravaged efficiency, civility, good-will, and good business.


I must confess that I was always extremely highly rated, wherever such appraisals were performed, as working With and for The Group. As long as I was the head of the group and directing activities!


I sincerely hope that the lessons that had to be learned from this past year of Petty Dictators-under-Capitol Domes are lessons forever learned, and never forgotten. One reason why I yearned to see this list of the “6 Phases of a Corps Study” during the past couple of years is because America was cycling rapidly through those phases, almost like the lather-rinse-repeat instructions on the shampoo bottle.


The spin cycle of the brain-washing of Americans is a phase mercifully nearing its end. Let’s pull the plug by the New Year on that empty drivel that can drive anyone nuts!


Here, at last, is The List:


  1. Enthusiasm

  2. Disillusionment

  3. Panic

  4. Search for the guilty

  5. Punishment of the innocent

  6. Honors and glory for the non-participants.

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