Couples Therapy

Fighting Kangaroos

Old Gov and New Gov finally went to see a therapist. It was that, or part ways after so many years.

The two of them started out happy, but New Gov had recently received her "15 Years of Service" pin.

Though she had only a dozen or so years left until retirement, New Gov's midlife crisis was getting worse and worse.

Old Gov would not have gone to therapy at all. But he could not ignore the numbers. And this year's Best Places To Work rankings were the pits.

At first he had tried to blame their problems on money - specifically, the lack of it. The pay freeze. Shutdown. Sequestration. Furlough. Continuing resolution. 

Call it what you want, it all spells "less food on the table."

But there was also the morale factor to consider. After so many years, Old Gov didn't care what people said anymore. But New Gov wanted to be listened to, and appreciated. She had so many years ahead of her.

Frankly, Old Gov was scared that New Gov would jump ship to the private sector.

So there they were, at the therapist's office, on a bright sunny day at noon.

"Come in," the doctor said. "It's cold out there."

Old Gov took a seat. "Tell me about it. That bright sun sure can fool you."

The doctor pulled up a chair. "So what brings you here today?"

New Gov had been looking at the diplomas on the wall. Now she sat down abruptly. The words came bursting out of her mouth like bullets from a machine gun.

"He will never, ever change," she said. "I have to do the same work, the same way, on broken equipment, day in and day out."

Old Gov did not expect to be attacked right off the bat like this.

"And you never stop changing," he said. "This is the government, not Silicon Valley. You've got to settle down."

She grimaced. "Why is it that I can do my grocery shopping on my iPhone and have it delivered, but I can't update a customer record without going through three separate screens on an old-fashioned desktop?"

"Ha! That one is just funny!"

"What do you mean? Are you making fun of me?" Her face flushed. "This was clearly a mistake."

The doctor held up a hand. "Hold on, hold on."

Old Gov turned to face her, conciliatory. "I know we have to catch up. But you have to have some patience."

When she spoke next, New Gov was calm but resolute. "I've had nothing but patience. But you are afraid to try anything."

The doctor looked at both of them. "What can I do to help you here?"

New Gov folded her arms. "I don't know. I want to retire from the Agency, but frankly I have had enough. More work, worse equipment, less security, and I'm constantly getting dumped on by people and their stereotypes about Feds."

"I think Old Gov hears you," said the doctor. "That's why we're here. Why don't we begin?"

Old Gov and New Gov looked at each other. 

"I do like my work," she said. "I like that feeling of really helping people, and not just chasing the quick buck. I also like my friends."

"You do have a lot of good ideas," he offered. "And your suggestions may actually save us some money. Maybe I've been too afraid to change. Me and my big fat ego, only getting in the way."

The doctor looked at the clock. Time had almost run out, but the patients' work was nearly done.

"All you had to do was show up here," he said. "I didn't really do anything today, other than give you some office space."

New Gov stood up first, cautiously smiling. "Thank you, doctor."

"Yes, thank you," echoed Old Gov.

They walked back to the office together.

* All opinions my own.