Monday, April 4, 2022

Microstory 1856: Civil Servant

Most of the time, when I was a civil servant, I didn’t feel like I could get anything done. There was so much red tape, and pushback from people who didn’t want to spend any money. The entire purpose of government—even local government—is to use money wisely, not to just hold onto it, and not use it at all. My colleagues kept screaming about wasting taxpayer money, but that’s not what I was trying to do. It’s meant to be for schools, roads, and emergency services. And it’s that last one that always got me into trouble. They wanted to dedicate pretty much our entire budget on law enforcement. Seriously, I think if someone like me wasn’t there to stop them, that’s exactly what they would do. One of them actually believed that there would be no need for any hospitals if cops handled everything before it got to that point. That, of course, doesn’t make any sense; that guy was an idiot. I started out as the City Comptroller. It’s the biggest joke in government. Everyone has the right to vote for it, but no one knows what it is. Fortunately, I was responsible for a fairly well-educated city in that regard, so many people actually did vote for me, and they knew why they were voting for me, instead of one of my opponents. Now, I never thought I would have free reign over the finances, but I thought I would have a stronger voice than I did. The Mayor had all the power, just like the TV shows make it seem. And our mayor was the absolute worst. Slimy, corrupt, impassionate, selfish. So many people tried to get him out of office, but they kept losing. I’m not saying he was rigging the elections, but something fishy was going on, and I decided to get to the bottom of it. Luckily, I just so happened to be a brilliant accountant, and I couldn’t get anywhere with my real duties, so I investigated in secret.

Long story short, he was stealing money. Unlike the movies, he wasn’t lining his own pockets, though, which is interesting. Every cent seemed to be going into his reëlection campaigns. Still wrong, still illegal, but I saw his house, and the car that he drove. He was living a surprisingly modest life. Even so, I had to expose him, and I expected my actions to ruin my life. It didn’t matter, because the people deserved the truth, so if I was going to go down, I would make sure he went down with me. To my surprise, that’s not what happened. The city practically raised me up on their shoulders, I was their hero. He went to jail, and I became the most famous comptroller in the country, which as we’ve established, isn’t saying much. It was an election year, so someone else was going to get the spot soon. So many people suggested that I go for it. Even with him out of the way, there was no guarantee that things were going to get better. It wasn’t like he was the only bad politician in the world. My friends knew that the population could trust me to be competent, faithful, and accountable. All I needed to do was convince everybody else. It wasn’t easy, but I fought a hard campaign, and I did it with a lot less money than my primary opponent. As far as I could tell, he was a pretty decent guy, so after I won, I appointed him as my Deputy Mayor. Together, we were going to change the way our great city was run; most importantly, by reworking the budget to be responsible, reasonable, and fair. Only thing is, we’re not going to get the chance to do that. At first, I think it’s raining on our first public address, but then I touch my face, and realize it’s blood. I look down at my deputy mayor. Headshot, he’s gone. Then I feel a sharp pain in my chest, and I fall down next to him. I shouldn’t have dared to dream.

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