That county job |

That county job

If you watch any of the regular or political news channels, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out something we all know to be true. Too many of our government agencies are what they call overlapping in personnel. Lots of them have people doing the same thing at their desk.

Perhaps someone in another location is doing the exact same thing? Recently, about mid-morning, I was having my second cup of coffee when one of the announcers was lamenting about this very problem. Many memories came my way. I was thinking about my years working at the Fresno Welfare Department back in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The test for that job was being given in the lunchroom of a local school.

When I arrived to see about 150 applicants — almost every one much younger than I was at the time — I though what the heck, give it a try and go home. At that time I already had a nice job with a moving company. However, my husband had just been hired for a county road department position and I knew all about the benefits of such a job.

So why not give it a try, what did I have to lose? Looking back, I think that being so relaxed was the reason I was successful, the tension was gone. I was certain that I wouldn’t be given one of the dozen jobs up for grabs when I looked around that lunchroom. A week later I got a notice. I had been hired to work in their budget department.

I remember, clearly, that first day working for a nice woman named Ann. There were about a dozen other employees in the room. Back in “the day” woman were not allowed to come to work wearing slacks, but they could sit and smoke up a storm. And that is exactly what one special woman did all day long. I’ll call her Jane. Her desk was in a kind of alcove.

My desk was situated where I looked right into where she sat by a window. It didn’t take me long to wonder about Jane. All daylong she sat looking pensive and holding a cigarette in one hand and a pen in the other. Every once in awhile she would move a single stack of papers in front of her and blow smoke out of that window; however nothing ever seemed to move from her desk.

Every day each of us would pick up a stack of papers that were documents concerning families who received welfare. It was our job to be certain they were receiving the correct amount. Each day, I would usually do about 10 or more. Jane never seemed to be picking up or putting down anything. So I decided to see if what I thought was correct. One morning I purposely went to work early.

I checked Jane’s desk, writing down the name of the recipient on top. That night after she left, I did it again. Still on top was the same name that’d been there that morning. I watched later as she took the whole pile of unfinished work from her desk, putting it back again on the pile for the entire workgroup. I kept checking. Our Jane hadn’t done one lick of work the entire week.

So here’s this new girl — I’d been there maybe a month — going in to see Ann, the office supervisor. I explained that I knew I was the new girl and told her what I found out about Jane. If she wanted to fire me, go ahead. I felt this needed to be checked. Loud mouth me, I suggested a plan. Let’s have everybody sign a daily log for such and such a name.

Employees then marked a list to document finishing their paperwork. Ann smiled, patted me on the head, and said something about the good work and that is exactly what she did. Now Jane had to work like everybody else. Then, six months later a job became available that required doing title work. The lady doing it was leaving. Nobody seemed to want the job that entailed driving down to the Hall of Records.

There, a little private room housed the recorders’ and assessors’ records used to determine what “real property” — homes, land, etc. that recipients owned. There were requirements, of course, and I had done some title work. On to a new job.

More on that in my next column.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County columnist and may be reached at