Constant Vigilance

I have not blogged for a while (been saying that a lot in the past few months).  I spent the past few weeks involved in the arduous process of switching jobs.

I felt more than a little guilty for not posting anything new, but It does not seem like I have missed any truly major local topics / happenings, except maybe Harry H’s ruin.  I could have re-posted something that I had written some time ago and it would have still been relevant.  The problems of yesterday still exist today.

It is Groundhog Day every day in Trinidad and Tobago: persons in positions of authority doing whatever they want without accountability to anyone, escalating crime, high food prices, poor infrastructure and services, general unkindness towards each other and so on and so on.

No place is that more evident than my new place of work.

While the statement “I work in a Government institution” may require no further elaboration, I feel the need to “explatiate.”

I do recognise that there are some progressive State entities and that there are many hard-working and driven Government employees in T&T, but…

The stereotypes seem more like truths when it comes to this place.

Things I always heard about the “typical Government institution / worker” but never believed until I saw it with my own eyes:


  • Government as the greatest violater of health, safety, security and environmental codes – my office is housed in what looks like roach motel deluxe.  The building is old, dirty and overcrowded (the same adjectives have been used to describe the “Royal Gaol”).  I am seriously considering visiting the nearest publicly-accessible building to use its restroom facilities (anything else would be cleaner!). Furthermore, in the event of a sudden shatter, I have my doubts as to whether anybody would make it out unharmed.  Maybe it is just me, but there is little comfort in the OSHA reporting mechanism when the investigators are employed by the violaters.
  • Government employees as the “non-working types” – I have spent some time at the office observing my co-workers and it is amazing how people can spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing (that is, nothing remotely related to their job-description or to the work of the organization) and have no qualms / make no pretense about it.  Arriving late, taking overly-long lunch breaks and leaving early all seem to be considered as “normal” conduct.  I keep getting the sense that any engagement in prolonged, work-related activity is frowned upon.  No one likes an “eager beaver.”  Moreover, in the supposed phasing out of the long-entrenched seniority over merit system, a young, degreed person can face some major resentment from those very same unproductive co-workers.  Comments such as “If yuh doh have yuh papers, they will bring in somebody over yuh head” and “Doh worry gyul, in a few years yuh go be just like we” are starting to sound more ominous.

No wonder Pappy has been after me about “constant vigilance.”  Be vigilant that you do not get injured while on the job.  Be vigilant that you do not end up just like “them.”

The Government is on a drive to upgrade the infrastructure of its offices (spanking new buildings are being constructed in downtown POS) and to enhance its human resources (GHRS, Service Commission and change management anyone?) but what I want to know is:

Will these new State buildings be maintained any better than the old ones that have been allowed to “run to the ground”?  Will the very same Government employees be moving across to the new buildings with their same, old, don’t-care-ish attitudes?

Exciting times are sure to come.


P.S. You may wonder why I took the new job in the first place…a raise is a raise.


~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on September 14, 2008.

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