Before I “turned off the lights” and “closed my office door” on my professional career in marketing and communications for the last time, I sat down and wrote a generic thanks and goodbye to my many colleagues and friends at the U.S. Census where I had worked for 32 years. And, the following is the anthology that came out of that writing time– some of the most prominent projects and memories we shared together–the good, the bad, the ugly, the sometimes unforgivable, but never to be forgotten moments! My apologizes to those readers who are familiar with the all-too-often government jargon–one of the many cultural characteristics I had to if I was ever to go anywhere in my career.
With spring fast approaching, my moments remembered have aged now nearly seven years. So when I happened upon the pages this week, I thought it only proper to include this big chunk of my life’s story in Our Unbounded Heritage… as part of this ongoing legacy of information.
During my nearly 32-year-career at the Census Bureau,
I’ve experienced many memorable moments
More than I ever could have dreamed of
The hours and days have included
So many once-in-a-lifetime moments
And, yes, a few regrets and laments.
Being new to the agency (but not to Suitland, MD) in January 1980,
I didn’t know really what to expect.
I had heard myths and rumors about the public’s stigmas–
And even then, the 1940’s-built facility
Seemed to be one of neglect.
Arriving during the final preparations or the 20th Census in April
The busy days and weeks
Transforming into months as we bolted forward
Moments turning quickly into years,
So many events in the world unfolded,
While I was here working with colleagues and peers.
It was a Wednesday, January 13, 1982,
When Air Florida crashed into the Potomac River
My colleagues and I were at our desks at AFCU’s building,
In Total disbelief of what had just happened, each of us was all aquiver.
And who can forget
The ill-conceived and demoralizing RIF and years of Reaganomics
Only to have most of us returned after billions were spent,
And more on our plates needing to be delivered–oh so tragicomic.
On Tuesday, January 28, 1986, at 11:38 a.m.,
When the Challenger exploded moments into its lift off,
I was working at Washington Plaza thinking about lunch at Tuckers,
The local restaurant and neighborhood watering trough.
And then the Iran-Contra Affairs in 1987
About the time I took my first official marketing course–
Though the word in government was still taboo,
I wanted to be one of the agency’s first marketing mavens.
In December 1990, when the United Nations demanded Iraq to abandon Kuwait,
The world all over was filled with anxieties of an impending war.
But as an agency, we were gearing up or another Census in April,
The twenty-first time for this monolithic chore.
My work at the Census Bureau changed much in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s,
With additions of personal computers, E-mail, and our Web site launch in 1994.
Was there anything more than a career government employee
Could think of or dream of, or even dare to ask for more?
In June 1995 when the action came from on high,
Our 25-year-old Data User Services Division was abolished,
My sense of security and stability became quick shattered.
Until then, my customer-focused research and marketing initiatives
Were all that had really mattered.
Fortunately for me and my colleagues,
Our efforts to focus on data user needs would survive.
And, in fact, my work would get more interesting and valued,
As demands for further customer-focused information thrived.
In 1995, there was our historic 28-day winter sabbatical
Due to the funding conflict that shut down the Federal government.
And the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Murrah Federal Building
That occurred in Oklahoma City.
Both incidents unnecessary moments and almost beyond our belief,
And quite frankly, I remember each of these events as terrible atrocities.
The Commerce Department lost Secretary Ron Brown and other employees,
In a plane crash in Croatia on Monday, April 8, 1996.
Our new division chief, Don Wynegar,
Reported to the Census Bureau that same day,
I recall that I was in a state of fearsome emotional dismay.
Americans were watching and listening to the media’s various stories,
Of celebrity murder trials, presidential impeachment hearings, the struggling economy,
And an over-abundance of social and political satire.
While we were preparing for Census 2000, the first in the new millennium–
These events raised questions about our moralities.
And the abundance of work tested our commitment and dedication
While the circus-like environment threw us into
Psychometric tests of our personalities and craniums.
In the midst of all this commotion though,
I led a wonderful team that developed the agency’s first CRM–
Truly forward thinking, and an innovative corporate asset,
It included online communications and transactions,
Enhanced customer experiences, and was far ahead of its time,
And our service to the public, the best anyone online could get.
Just when we thought good times were rolling and bad times ended,
Came September 11, 2001, that crisp and brilliantly sunny Tuesday morn.
By 10 a.m., our world as we knew it was shattered and time suspended.
All the world events that came before now paled in comparison
To these cowardly terrorist attacks
That had hit our beings dead center and hurt us right down to our core.
As the world entered into its War on Terrorism
And the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City
Opened and closed without a hitch,
The Marketing Services Office led the agency
In its integrated Centennial Anniversary Celebrations
That included so many treasured moments–they all were absolutely rich.
On Saturday, February 1, 2003, America lost seven more astronauts
When the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas upon re-entry.
Only 47 days later o Wednesday, March 19, we began our War on Iraq–
And, nearly 9 months later on Saturday, December 13,
Our troops captured Saddam Hussein in a small bunker in Tikrit.
January 20, 2005, marked my 25 years of service at the Census Bureau.
That’s a quarter of a century or about 1 trillion moments in time
300 million moments of sleep to read my body and mind;
About 300 million moments with colleagues and friends at work
About 100 million getting ready for and commuting to and from
And, another 300 million moments that I might call my own–
You know, those times spent with:
Family, worshipping, continuing education, hobbies, entertainment,
And, o course, meals, home repairs, cleaning, and yard work.
On August 3, 2005, my long-time supervisor, colleague and friend “JK” retired–
A defining moment for me–I was on the brink of creating my legacy,
And for about two years, I did so with competence and glee.
Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on in late August while a few of us were in Ottawa–
We were there at Statistics Canada with our Canadian counterparts and friends
Sharing moments discussing innovation, research initiatives,
And means to new ends to better meet data user interests.
In 2006 more changes were underway at our agency with the move to merge our
Marketing Services and Customer Liaison Offices into the Communications Directorate.
A new office was named, new Division Chief, and new associate directors assigned.
While on travel in Boston in January 2007, I took sick.
In the Spring I decided to get back in shape
And while at boot camp I suffered injuries
That took me temporarily out of the games in the workplace.
Then in the Fall of 2007, it happened in Boston again.
Another bug that kept me down and almost did me in!
With the New Year on the horizon, more changes abounded.
Another new Chief, a new deputy, and many more assistants
Appointed to help us ramp up for the 2010 Census.
Throughout my years,
I have never hidden my passion for my work–
That always included creativity, innovation, and forward thinking
So needless to say when my 2008 draft paper intended for the IMAODBC Conference
On Web 2.0 and Social Media was not embraced
There were some moments and even days when my heart could not stop sinking.
Near the end of 2008 and through the summer of 2010,
There were very few moments where we could catch our breaths,
Communications’ integrated promotions campaign was in full swing
And I co-chaired an award-winning Web Team
That included a mix of knowledge and skills sets
And was driven by its commitment and dedication to online
Implementations and innovative communications.
It’s now Spring in 2011, and I am breathless as I take in
The warmth of the sun, the blue skies, and the blossoming trees and flowers
Similarly, the agency plans to continue to blossom and morph
But, suddenly my talents and skills are absent in these new plans and works.
We have two great leaders at the Census Bureau’s helm
They have wonderful visions and a focus on the Y Generation,
So as the seasons change I question my presence as a peer of the realm.
And, my focus turns now
To how I want to spend my moments and to share my creations.
So, whatever the future brings,
Whether good times or bad,
I can find comfort and pleasure in knowing,
That I was among some great colleagues and peers,
And I take with me treasured learning moments
And the memories of projects and times that we shared.