Q. In some of your columns, you seem to relish throwing insults at government workers who work "only" a 40-hour week. Let me describe to you the environment in which we find ourselves.

I work with a branch of the federal government. I was hired to do a job, and I do it. Perhaps we don't have quite enough people to do the work that needs to be done in our office. So, we should hire some more, you would say.

In the federal government, we blow with the winds of Congress as far as hiring people goes. Right now, we can't hire any -- no matter what our workload might be. Do you expect me to destroy my personal life to compensate for our shortsighted overseers? No way!

If I travel and I need a full-size rental car to carry passengers, I need a permission slip from someone in upper management. Clearly, I cannot be trusted to spend a few extra dollars. If I need a new notebook, I have to buy it myself, out of my own money. And you think I should stay late on top of this?

Given the way we get treated by our own people, it's not surprising that people like you criticize us for not putting in the extra effort. But frankly, would you?

A. The work conditions you describe are terrible. Worse than that, they are demeaning. But I can't understand why you put up with them.

If you can't change your work environment from within, change it with your feet: Get out and look for work elsewhere. There are more than 100 million jobs in this country -- surely there is one for you where you will not build up such disdain for work and such overall bitterness.

Q. I am director of placement for a large technical school. It is my responsibility to assist our students in their job search. More and more, our students tell me they are being tested through the use of trick questions that have nothing to do with their skills. These questions relate to honesty, drugs, stealing and such.

What's going on? Are these questions a veiled way to discriminate?

A. Discriminate against liars, thieves or drug addicts? That's hardly against the law.

More than that, such questions may be aimed at seeing applicants think on their feet and express themselves as they talk about subjects for which they had not prepared.

Tell your students to try to answer such questions straightforwardly, without an attempt to second-guess what the right answer might be.

Andrew Grove is chief executive of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif. Send questions to him in care of the Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, Calif. 95190.