This is a time, just after an election, when a lot of people are moving on to other pursuits. Many of those who have been serving their candidate, cause or government announce that they are now moving to a place called the private sector.

To some, the private sector means everything that is not government. But somehow the 9-to-5, lunch-in-the-cafeteria opportunities available to many people who work for private businesses don't seem to be quite the same thing as the private sector that these departing public officials are talking about. The private sector seems to involve a good deal more in the way of large salaries and paid club memberships.

Because of this you may decide that you, too, would like to move to the private sector. If so, you should know there are certain conditions that must be met.

First, you have to be reluctant. One never enters the private sector eagerly, but with sincere regret at the opportunities for further public service that must be forgone.

Second, there is tuition. One must have at least one and preferably several children for whom the prevailing outrageously high tuition fees are being paid. The high cost of educating your children is still not a defense against felony charges ("not guilty by reason of tuition, your honor") but it is more than enough to allow you to accept a trebled income without having to explain yourself to your peers.

Third is the matter of the proper time of life. One should be at that age when a somber and dignified exit from the public sector can be made. A 28-year-old man who has worked three years for a crusading senator and has now decided it is time to pursue a corporate job and begin looking into tax shelters is not perceived as having moved to the private sector.

If these conditions are me, you can announce: "I have reluctantly concluded that it is time for me to avail myself of new opportunities for service in the private sector." If not, you must say, "I got a job with the Washington office of Consolidated Deforestation. It's big bucks."