You see them all over Washington these days. Bright young men and women in their best clothes, carrying their resumes in their briefcases, going from one private office to another hoping to land a job.
They are the walking wounded of the Carter defeat, which not only brought down a president but a Democratic Senate. There are thousands of them, hired without the protection of the Civil Service and now bright Republicans are going to get their jobs. Some of the wounded are qualified for the private sector and others, unfortunately, are not.
"Mr. Walcott, I've been reading your resume. But I'm not too clear on exactly what you did for the government."
"I was in planning and statistics and dealt mostly with credibility discrepancies and shortfalls in the oversight department."
"I see. Could you be a little more specific?"
"My department made reports and studies invovlving budgetary problems that were outside long-term outlay ratios. We would assess the impact of these problems and then make recommendations on whether to pass them up the line to the seventh floor or send them back to the third floor for further clarification."
"Then your office was above the third floor?"
"Yes, sir, I was on the fifth floor with windows overlooking the Washington Monument. The people on the third floor reported to me and I reported to my superior who reported to the people on the seventh floor."
"That's very interesting. Could you tell me exactly what your day was like?"
"The first thing we did in the morning was to have a meeting on the fifth floor to discuss discretionary input policy. Then we broke up, and I went to my office and wrote a memorandum concerning the meeting, which I classified and then submitted to all those concerned, keeping a copy for myself just in case someone called me on it at a later date."
"Could you give me a more specific example of exactly the services you rendered?"
"Of course. Let's say that at the meeting we discussed a restructuring of the infrastructure of the department. My superior wanted to know what grievance response mechanisms had to be built into the program for it to succeed, and how we could move the staff around without endangering the efficiency of his department by adopting the reforms. We didn't want to send a rocket up in the building that would crash down on our heads."
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that one of your many functions was to protect your superior's job."
"I never thought of it that way, but now that you mention it I guess that was what I was doing. You have to understand how the department worked. The seventh floor kept sending down memos that they were getting flak from the eighth floor to cut out the fat in the agency. The seventh floor said they had no fat to cut, and it was up to the fifth floor to enact a cost-saving program. We passed on their demands to the third floor for suggestions. But the third floor was very uncooperative and kept sending back memos insisting that any major savings in running the department could only be made on the upper floors. Obviously, we had to protect our own turf."
"How did you do this?"
"By increasing the staff on the fifth floor, so that in case we were forced to cut back we would have the same number of people we started with."
"I seem to be very thick, Mr. Walcott, but I'm perplexed as to how your job served the people."
"I don't understand the question."
"What contribution did you make to the taxpayer to justify your salary?"
"I believe that if you read the reports I've written over the past four years you'll see that I earned every nickel I got."
"What happened to those reports?"
"Twenty-six of them got to the seventh floor, and six, I was told, got to the eighth floor. I don't think that's a bad record."
"One more question. Given your background, why do you want to be a steward on the Eastern Airlines shuttle?"
"I've always been good with people."