I spent some time this evening reviewing the semi-monthly check registers issued by the city for which I work. It's generally boring, unless I find entries showing odd connections between projects paid for with city dollars managed by familiar names on what looks like (and I may be wrong) a no-bid basis. Or a list of names of people who used the behavioral health insurance service in the prior month. Or a large check written for a renovation project which is never going to take place because of the abrupt change in the city's financial position. If I don't publicize this stuff, is it simply mental self-abuse or am I actually compiling a dossier to hand off to someone else?
It would be hard to take me seriously as a "Deep Throat" type, though I actually am quite talented in that regard (kidding) (not really). All I do is review expenditures and keep notes about where the funds went, what the money was spent on, and if it's a recurring cost. The renovation is never going to happen - the residents don't want to see five million bucks spent on a pretty library when the biggest recreation center, built on improperly compacted landfill, is sinking - or do they? What's $20,000 for a construction management contract for a project they'll never build when yet another building had to be closed because it was seismically unstable? Go figure.
Deep breath. This only matters because it's more emotionally engaging than grief. If I keep hold of this, I don't have to grieve. And Heaven knows, doing investigative work about a "thing" is a lot more important than feeling what's happening in my heart. My cat is more in need of real attention than that mess at work - yet it keeps dragging me back. Perhaps tomorrow things will be different. Perhaps tomorrow my additional years of retirement credit will be added to my account so I can say a fond farewell to the gang and move on, never thinking crummy thoughts about the place again.
What a nasty introduction to me - and I'm actually a pleasant, engaging guy who is pleasant to be around, who helps old people, who doesn't bark at children or shush them - ever - and who just sent his mother a Mothers' Day card early. Well, my apologies. At least it shows that I have research skills, and am dogged and engaged. It also shows that I'm enough of a coward about my feelings to do my level best to hide behind them with some pettiness about a city's management of its money. Well, go figure.
That's why it seems as if I'm not adding any value. For me to be doing something worthwhile, I need to convey the dossier I am compiling to someone who can act on it. It's hard to determine who the best person is for that - the local weekly or my big metropolitan daily? That's almost an ethical dilemma - embarass the organization or solve the problem? Can I simply solve the problem without making the people who are making my retirement possible look like idiots, or worse, complicit in bad things?