Wednesday, September 11, 2002

My Gerry Maguire Experience

"I will never ever get into government service!" Those were my exact words before my college graduation. Call me an ingrata persona having been fed by my mother's hard-earned labor in government service as a Clerk of Court even before I was born. I just totally disliked the idea. I saw how my mom would spend Saturdays and Sundays doing overtawad work and again and again, I would tell myself, this is not the life I want.

I wanted a glamorous lifestyle and make a big name for myself in the corporate world. Besides, all my batchmates were going to work for the big corporations and I'd hate to be the odd one. I'd be an Ayala or a Sy in time, they'll see.

And so, as the story goes, I did end up working for a big corporation as a brand manager after college. Slowly, I was realizing the fulfillment of my dreams. Yes! I made it alright!

But then. . . something hit me! I was sitting on my swivel chair in the confines of my cubicle one Tuesday night and TADA! All of a sudden, I started questioning the essence of my job, its fulfillment, its meaning. And the ultimate question: Am I truly happy with this job? And as if on cue, like Tom Cruise (who by the way is not my uncle though we kinda share the same surname and some of the killer looks) in Gerry Maguire, I was out of that promising career in no time despite the uncertainty of an economy scarce with good jobs.

Men and women for others . . . For the greater glory of God . . . Lux in domino . . .

These words echoed in my mind and I just found myself writing an application letter to the Department of Trade and Industry. (The Jesuits really were successful in brainwashing me alright during my college days!)

And . . .DYARRRAAANNN! I'm here amongst the civil servants of the new millennium at the Department of Trade and Industry, hoping to make something out of my life.

First day at work: Wow! This must be an easy job! Nothing much to do! The desks are empty! I will definitely enjoy this new job! He he he!

Mid-day of first day at work the realization sinks in: Opss! No things on the table because they practice 5 S! Not even a photo frame or pen holder on my desk (or at my officemate’s desk for a while!). At least my desk should be brand new. It's not yet here!

Second day: Good morning! So, do I have my desk now?

Third day: Is my desk here yet?

Fourth day: Where’s my desk?

Fifth day: So this is DTI. . . Can I have my desk now?

And so it goes. . .

For the sake of patriotism (?) and fulfillment (?), almost two years have passed since I made a brave decision to belong to the breed of selfless (?) and dedicated (?) people of the DTI. Though it might be too early to say before I bump my head and wake up from this hallucination, I am keeping my fingers crossed that indeed, I have found my place here. As the last line of Gerry Maguire says, "If the heart is empty, the brains won't matter."

Working for government has its merits. You get to travel, rub elbows with top level officials, wine and dine for free during classy meetings, attend various trainings, get VIP treatment with matching sampaguita garlands when you represent the office, etc. And of course, you get to learn and practice important virtues like patience (like waiting for your first paycheck which seemed like forever), perseverance (like trying your best to make ends meet in project implementation and getting reimbursed after), self-control (like avoiding saying those four letter words to people who never seem to understand your instructions). At the same time, I have learned to appreciate and respect other government people who have sacrificed so much (even their lovelife!!!) for the sake of public service. Contrary to what most people think, there are so many honest and competent government people I have worked with that I will always admire and look up to.

Yes, it is with the government that I started to enjoy the simplicity of life and the joy of working with the masses (though I do not suggest quitting your job now and start working for the government! I am not liable for any unpleasant result should you try working for the government!). But then again, I am writing this as a memoir to my days as a public servant. Back in the arms of the private sector more than a year ago, I have found myself, after that short yet memorable days with government, wiser, simpler and more patient. It was like a retreat from the corporate world that gave me the “break” necessary to find myself again. No need to be in the “in” crowd dining and hoping from one classy night spot to another because these were replaced with simple sharing of packed lunch at work filled with chikahan and bonding sessions. No longer do I need to be wearing the branded clothes for these government people taught me the value of being happy and contended with what we have because the best corporate suit anyone could and should wear in front of clients and associates is service with a smile and joy in one’s heart while working. It is loving what we do that makes work lighter and more enjoyable, which we should since most of our time is spent at work.

As I baded my “temporary” farewell from the government service (for a better financial stability), I will hold my head up high with pride to have belonged to the ranks of public servants and my salute goes to those I leave behind. And it is now that the realization that “happiness is a decision you make every minute” proves to be true. Whether I work in the public or private sector, my happiness depends entirely on me. I can choose to be happy or miserable even in the worst or best working environment.

I know there is this part of me that will forever stay with government and I will always bring those experiences with me even in the private sector. Hopefully, when I am older and richer (I hope my boss reads this!), I’d get the chance to once again work for the government. It was an experience worth more than my MBA degree (talk about opportunity costs!). It was an experience that has made a mark in my work attitude and my life’s values.

“WoRk To mAKe tHInGs better.
wORk bECausE yOuR iDEas nEeD a PLaCe tO Go.
WOrK bECausE iT’s pARt oF bEiNG gOOd to YoURsELF.
WoRK foR aLL YouR oWN rEaSOns.
LIVE wHILe yOU work.”

From an Anne Klein ad

Watch out for some stress relieving tips next week . . .until then – chill out W3O gals!

CaRPe dIeM!!!

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