Dear Dr. Politics: I'm hoping you can help me with a problem I've been having recently. I'm a member of a small but important government organization located on Capitol Hill. (Hint: It has 100 members, two from each state.) For a number of reasons I won't go into, I've suddenly found myself in a position of considerable influence on certain major matters of national policy.
At the same time, though, I've sensed a lot of mistrust, and even hostility, among many of my fellow workers, including people who've supposedly been my friends for years. In fact, there's been a constant drumbeat of criticism -- they're talking to the newspapers about me, and they're going on TV and radio and the internet 24/7 to question my motives and my loyalty and even my integrity.
Here's my problem: I'm loving every minute of it.
Dear Conn: Your reaction is hardly unusual. In one way or another, most people want to feel that they matter -- to their friends and colleagues, and even to the world at large. The reaction from your co-workers shows you that you're "relevant" to the lives of many people.
Then again, so was Hurricane Katrina.
Dear Dr. Politics: Just wanted to get your opinion on a little practical joke me and my friends have been pulling at the office. We're totally fed up with the way certain people have been running the place, and we figure that if we get anything accomplished they'll get all the credit anyway, so a few of us decided to slow everything down to a crawl.
We're bringing up all sorts of annoying questions and making them vote on things they don't want to vote on. We're even making them read everything out loud before they vote on it, no matter how long it takes. They're running out of time, and they feel like they're swimming in molasses! Now we're thinking of throwing toilet paper on all the seats, and maybe egging the windows.
It's not like we're hurting anybody, right?
Dear Mitch: Have you considered another line of work? Perhaps demolition?
Dear Dr. Politics: I don't believe this! This isn't reform! This isn't even a shadow of reform! This is a total sellout to the insurance companies! How can anyone possibly support anything like this? The only choice is to kill it and start all over again! I'm so angry I could scream!
Dear Doc: How does that screaming thing generally work out for you?
Dear Dr. Politics: I need your advice on handling a really sensitive issue of workplace conflict. When I was promoted to head of my division a few years ago, I was told to expect the full cooperation of the people I'd be supervising. (There are 60 of us, counting two freelancers who work on contract.) I think I've treated everyone with great respect, and I've bent over backwards to try to accommodate their various needs, but even so, they simply refuse to work together.
Every favor I do for one of them gets somebody else ticked off. And when I try to get them to all pull in the same direction, they treat me like I'm not even there. Whoever said politics was like herding cats was absolutely right! Any suggestions?
Dear Harried: I understand your frustration -- but that's no reason to insult cats. There are several species that are even more difficult to organize. Hummingbirds, for instance. Or Democrats.
Dear Dr. Politics: Where are the off ramps? I thought there were off ramps.
Dear Prez: Welcome to Washington.
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.