Wednesday, 2005-05-25 | Classic Gin
While holding the various positions I've held over the years, I've noticed a thing or two about employment in both the private sector and the public.
For instance, in the private sector, where the expenses incurred while attempting to do business must be recovered before anyone has actually profited in any quantitative way, there is an inordinate emphasis on keeping up appearances. An acute awareness of the dernier cri and a certain mellifluous vapidity tend to characterize business exchanges in the private sector; this is as true of business lunches on State St. as it is of six month reviews at hippie
By contrast, I have noticed that in the public sector, where the expenses incurred while attempting to do business need not necessarily be recovered because some patronizing institution (e.g. private donors, universities, state/federal government) has decided that the work itself has value and is therefore willing to financially support the venture though it is technically unprofitable, tends to emphasize contention at the expense keeping up appearances. The work t
hat I have done in the private sector has been mostly with ambitious lay-abouts (oxymoron intentional) who are much more concerned with demonstrating superiority over their peers than how they look while doing it. This, of course, isto say nothing of the task at hand--a thing to which those who live and thrive in the public sector are generally indifferent unless exceptional performance of their job is the only and best way to demonstrate their competence and mer
it (and it is seldom either and almost never both).
In the case of the man who makes his living making money or the case of the man who makes his living picking the pockets of philanthropists and champions of the Liberal Arts, there is a thing that comes before what we will call professional obligation. Professional obligation, in the loosest possible sense, is a phrase that is meant to imply the full range of explicit and implicit responsibilities that come with agreeing to perform a given task. For instance, a race car driver has as his explicit professional obligations the task of driving a race car in accordance with the rules of the tour or circuit in which he is racing and the responsibility of performing to the best of his abilities when the checkered flag falls. As for his implicit professional obligations, a race car driver has a responsibility to his fellows on the track that is something like sportsmanship or fair play; he is responsible to his co-workers for contributing to a sense of decorum, for acting appropriately in whatever situation presents itself.
Positions that people agree to fill have explicit and implicit responsibilities; I can't think of one job that explicitly or implicitly demands frank personal expression or anything like ego.