A Pause in the Move

Well, it seems we’ve been doing it wrong. My husband was given a date to report to his new job in Seattle — 19 January — and it seemed the logical process was for us to move up there by that date so he could, you know, go to work without having a thousand-mile commute. We should’ve known better, though, because that’s way too logical for the government.

He got word yesterday that, although the pre-move house-hunting trip was authorized to properly take place before he started his new job [cough] we weren’t supposed to actually move until after he’d reported on the 19th and been sworn in. Umm, what?

I had this image for most of yesterday of them flying him up to Seattle so he could raise his right hand and sign a paper, then flying him back so we could get things packed and moved. [headdesk] It turns out things aren’t quite that bass-ackwards, although it’s close. They just have to find someone at a high enough level in the same chain of command to swear him in down here on the 19th, and then they’ll immediately put him on leave so we can officially move on his new agency’s nickel. Last I heard (as of last night) they were talking about sending him to San Diego to be sworn in by someone down there, which… wow. They don’t have someone in the LA area? Really? My husband doesn’t drive, so San Diego means a whole day on the bus there and back for what’s probably less than an hour (and quite possibly just a few minutes, I don’t know) of repeating-after and paper shuffling. They still have to pay him for the bus fare and travel time, though. Your tax dollars at work. [sigh] (Unless you’re not from the US, in which case you can feel free to laugh at how the US government works in these trying economic times.)

We were in the process of getting things sorted and tossed and ready for the packers to show up on Thursday, but that’s on hold now. We were using up food without buying any more that’d just have to be tossed at the end of the week, but now we need to do another grocery order. And cetera.

What’s really annoying here is that the miscommunication was on the other end, with the people whose job it is to know how this works. None of the people he’d been talking to told him any of this. No one mentioned that he was supposed to report in on the 19th before actually spending money on the move. He’d mentioned his plans to a couple of people and no one said, “Oh, no, that’s not how it works.” Word finally got to his new boss’s boss, who’s been moved by the government himself several times and therefore knows the procedures, and said, “Wait, you’re what?” which started the conversation. But none of the other people he’d been talking to, including the ones who were working with him on filling out forms and signing vouchers and arranging for realtors and whatever all else, thought to tell him in what order the government wants him to do things.

And what’s really really annoying about this is that it’s all pointless. The purpose of having him be sworn in at his new agency first is to let the money for the move come out of their pot, rather than having his old agency pay for it. But the bottom line is that it’s all the same larger pot — it’s all taxpayer dollars, and it’s all being spent by the US government. We’re spending extra money (even if it’s only the cost of a bus trip to San Diego and a day’s wages) to ensure that Agency X is paying instead of Agency Y, when the bottom line is that the taxpayers (us) aren’t saving anything. So extra money is being spent for what comes down to accounting. [sigh]

I’m having a hard time imagining why there couldn’t be a policy letting whatever agency a transferring employee is with pay for the move. Or just transfer the costs to the agency he’s going to, since everyone knows he is going. There you go — we’re saving actual money without spending any, and all it would take is a change to policies and procedures. I guess that makes too much sense.

Angie, whose house is half-overturned and is going to stay that way for an extra two weeks

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Angela Benedetti lives in Seattle with her husband and a few thousand books. She loves romance for the happy endings, for the affirmation that everyone who's willing to fight for love deserves to get it and be happy with someone. She's best known for her Sentinel series of novels, the most recent of which is Captive Magic.