The following is a repost of one of my earliest entries on this blog, from February 2009. It should be carefully reviewed by anybody who wants to make a career in the Federal or State bureaucracy. BE FORWARNED.
YE RULES OF YE WARFARE OF YE BUREAUCRACY
|"Thus Always to POLADs"|
01. Rememberest thou the Principle of the Most Holy Peter and forget it never.
02. Thou hast two bosses, Thy Honcho and The High Honcho whom Thy Honcho doth serve; when there is a conflict between them, servest thou Thy Honcho over The High Honcho.
03. Forgettest thou never that Thy Honcho can fire thee at any time, and that thou must always serveth him first before all, yea, even before the High Honcho. Rememberest thou that The High Honcho can fire thee immediately and more permanently, but has many other targets and his attention is divided amongst them; thou therfore hath a much reduced chance of receiving a smiting by his lightning bolts from on high than from Thy Honcho.
04. Nobody can be the servant of two masters; he will either love the one or hate the second, or love the second and hate the first. Noone can be the servant of both Thy Honcho and The High Honcho. (The fact that thou must do so anyway is thy problem.)
05. Remember that thou art what thou art only because thou makest Thy Honcho happy and makest Thy Honcho look good; forget this not, lest thou committeth a CLM (Career Limiting Maneuver) and be shitcanned.
06. If Thy Honcho is male and Thou art female, be nice and pleasant, but never too familiar and never, never dress in a manner too physically revealing (female receptionists/low rank secretaries can ignore this rule, but only before their 30th birthdays).
07. If Thou art male and thy underling is female, never shalt thou dippest thy pen in her inkwell. Forgettest this rule at thy eternal peril, for lo! this rule doth apply triply regarding receptionists/low secretaries; rememberest also that even if thou thinketh that the relationship is consensual now, twenty years from now it won't be if she retroactively changes her mind. (Corollary: keepest thou thy lust always, always to thyself; bureaucrats by definition hath no need to screw any but the public.)
08. Discretion is the better part of not getting caught. (See Rule 30 below.)
09. Choose Thy Honcho even more carefully than he chooses thee, for his sins are thine or very quickly shall become thine unless thou shalt quit in a few weeks. Yea, even those sins that occurred before thou beganst to work with him shall be thine, now and forever, amen.
10. Always check thy six. This rule is not repeated by accident.
11. Always check Thy Honcho's six.
12. When checking Thy Honcho's six, double check thy own, in case thou hast annoyed Thy Honcho recently.
13. Always check thy underlings' sixes lest they not check thine.
14. After checking thy underlings' sixes, recheck thine own in case they haven't.
15. Thou shalt act as a shit-screen for thine underlings, lest they fail to check thy six.
16. Honorest thou Thy Honcho in public. Never forgettest thou that, Peter Principle aside, he may not yet have reached his level of incompetence; even his decisions which appear nonsensical may have context of which thou art unaware.
17. It is thy job to determine what that context doth be before he does.
18. Diss Thy Honcho to anyone other than thy spouse at thy eternal peril; and disseth Thy Honcho not even to thy spouse if thy marriage is rocky.
19. Fearest thou not to keep thy wagon hitched to Thy Honcho's, unless and until it is clear that he has met St. Peter and has risen to his level of incompetence. When that doth happen, thou must then find a new Honcho. Discreetly.
20. Be diplomatically frank with Thy Honcho in private, and never in front of a co-underling and never-never in front of thine own underlings. Failure to do this is a major CLM.
21. Always check thy six. (Like I said.)
22. Forgettest thou not that, the longer the title, the lower the weenie doth be on the totem pole.
23. Disseth thou not the individual with the long title, lest thou find thyself under him at a later time with a higher position and a shorter title.
24. Today's junior SOB is tomorrow's Honcho. Diss the junior therefore at thine own peril.
25. Never forgetteth that thy underlings, thy compatriots, and Thy Honcho are all as ambitious as thou art, and that fact can be made to serve thee.
26. When something goeth wrong and Thy Honcho doth inquire about it, tell everything. Thou art likely screwed regardless, but Thy Honcho may yet be able to pull thy chestnuts out of the fire if he/she is fully informed about it. (Corollary: If he knows about problem x before he is asked about it by the High Honcho, he may forgive problem x, particularly if problem x is fixed forthwith.)
27. When something goeth wrong and thine underlings inquire about it, tell them no more than they need to fix it.
28. Thou shalt not keep Thy Honcho in the dark about anything with the exception of thy personal life and thy lust for Thy Honcho (if applicable); these latter, yea, must remain eternal mysteries, amen.
29. Know the art of keeping thine mouth shut.
30. Rememberest thou the Eleventh Commandment and keep it wholly.
31. Rememberest thou that when Thy Honcho is replaced as replaced he must be, thy chance of thy career coming to an untimely end after a CLM goes up dramatically. Thy new Honcho will always weigh thine usefulness against the degree to which thou shalst annoy him; if the latter unduly outweighs the former, he will replace thee with one of his former underlings from a former job who will not do thine job as well as thou--but who will at the very least well know how not to annoy him.
32. Learneth thy Honcho's pet peeves ASAP and avoid them like thou shalt the plague.
33. Richard Friedel's Law: When outside bureaucratic forces come to 'investigate' a CLM by thine Honcho or thyself, (a) Admit nothing. (b) Deny everything. (c) Make counteraccusations. (d) Take hostages only when necessary. (e) Do not fear to take hostages if necessary. (f) Never, never call the Inspector General.
34. The rule immediately previous applieth not if the investigators art from law enforcement or the I.G. If this is the case, STFU and contactest thou thine lawyer forthwith.
35. When the choice is between thee going to jail and Thy Honcho or Underling going deservedly to jail, thou shall choose the Honcho or Underling. Loyalty hath its limitations. (Remember this even if the price of Thy Honcho going to jail is thy being shitcanned; it is forsooth better to be shitcanned and have to get a real job than to wind up in the federal tennis prison at Danbury.)
36. Security enforcement nazis are to be respected and feared but not overly so; they are like unto wasps who can be swatted if thou shalt move carefully enough.
37. Forgettest thou not that thy tongue is thy gravest enemy, particularly when Rules 33-36 are applicable.
38. Remembereth that even thy most junior underlings have one nuclear bomb at their disposal, to wit, thy underling's race resentment doth trumpeth thy Honcho's displeasure. An incompetent underling who cries racial discrimination hath enormous power to screweth thine resume (and trigger Rules 33-37) and get thee shitcanned. The fact that such cries are baseless or have been repeated by the same underling in previous positions will not save thee.
39. Kicketh thou not a former or lateral Honcho on the way down, no matter how much of an SOB he doth be, lest he later return the favor; Honchos have an unfortunate habit of bouncing back.
40. When given the choice between offending thy God and offending the bureaucracy, offend God; unlike the bureaucracy, He may forgive thee.
41. Model thyself on the Vogons, forgetting not that they were amateurs compared to what thou must become.
42. Rememberest thou the Klingon rule: if thou wouldst not have a thing heard, say it not. As regard thy tongue there are no do-overs.
43A. Thy Honcho is responsible for and always gets all credit for thy work.
43B. Thou art personally responsible for all thy honcho's failures; if thou does not wish to be, find someone junior to thee to be the scapegoat.
43C. If thou loveth not making thy junior underling responsible for thy and thy Honcho's failures, don't work in a bureaucracy, or in the alternative, become a Honcho thyself.
44. Did I mention to always, always, ALWAYS check thy six?
Richard L. Kent, Esq. is former Deputy Political Advisor (POLAD) to the Commanding General of Multinational Division North, Stabilization Force, Bosnia. (See Rule 22) until he did piss off his Honcho and was thereupon consigned to the stairs. He is now a solo attorney, and hath nobody as a Honcho, for which he doth thanketh his Creator.