You Can't Polish a Turd

Written by George Fripley

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

You can't polish a turd! This is an old saying with which prospective government employees should become familiar. Do not misunderstand me; the public service is a fine occupation for the young person wondering what to do with their lives, or how best they may be able to serve their fellow human beings. However, some things, like turds, are simply not capable of being made to look or smell any better than they already do, however bad that may be. This is a fine metaphor to use when talking about government.

There are systems in place that have been there for years that really stink. Even a cursory glance will reveal that they work about as well as a rusted old museum exhibit. However, and this is the crucial point for any person wishing to work in government, it is futile to try to clean them up and make them run more smoothly. Many a delusional individual has brought out the oil and the rust remover, confident that they can fix the problem, and transform a ancient and clunky process into a gleaming, well-oiled example of a modern cutting-edge process. They usually end up wandering the corridors muttering to themselves in corners, occasionally bursting into tears. They end up looking like the weight of the world has been dropped upon their shoulders. A look back at the government machine shows that it is still there clanking along, still covered in rust, still looking like the two-thousand year old dinosaur that it is.

The system is also hazardous to the employee in another way; it sucks out part of the personality of anyone who tries to tamper with it, leaving them unable to escape from its dark clutches. This is the fate of those who do not heed the warning signs that abound in the government system. They will end up with their soul trapped within the machinery of government, unable to improve it, and unable to escape to another job. Trust me when I say that you do not want to end up like this.

Changing how government works is like trying to stop the tide coming in. The machine will suck you in, chew you up and imprison you for life. As long as you understand this, you are well on your way to a successful and rewarding career. You need the necessary arsenal of weapons that will enable you to establish a position, defend it, and gradually increase your area of influence within the system. I wrote a book about it because it is an area of endless opportunity.

This is the way that government works the world over - this is your government at work. This is what your public servants put themselves through everyday. Don't you just love them? I love them so much I wrote a book about it...but then again, some people may call me strange.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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