I’m being recruited for a new job. (I’ll keep this one, of course. Writing one column a month for the Review keeps me in whiskey, but little more. It’s not even good whiskey. Writers need day jobs.) Possibly in retribution for my political column last month, I’m being aggressively recruited by the federal government to work in a small internal agency. Only Nixon could go to China, I guess. 

I’m flattered, but as I learn more about the team they’ve built, I have come to realize that in this particular heist film, I’m going to be the guy everyone else gets all shifty-eyed over, about whom somebody says “Him? Why?” and Danny Ocean has to remind the team they need this madman because though he may be crazy and unpredictable, he’s the only guy for the job. (I try not to think about how that guy usually bites it before the movie ends.) 

I suppose I should have expected this, but the amount of paperwork one has to fill out for a federal gig is amazing. The first pass through HR, I had to send in two tax returns, a full CV — detailed to the point that I even mentioned this publication — three references, a credit report, and a Declaration for Federal Employment. That last one is form OF306, in case you’re wondering — protected statuses, never been convicted of a felony, not a member of ISIS, that sort of thing. Things nearly broke down over that one because I had to call the recruiter and ask how I would find out if I had registered for the draft. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Hi. How would I find out if I registered for the draft?

Her: Don’t you remember?

Me: No.

Her: So you didn’t do it?

Me: It’s possible I didn’t. It was 23 years ago. I don’t remember registering to vote, either, but I assume I did because I’ve been voting ever since.

Her: You don’t remember registering to vote?

(Apparently the usual aspirant federal employee remembers registering to vote as a signal day in their 18th year. About being 18, I remember making out in cars and Allan Stagg’s WCKG show and buying a cheap suit for graduation. Registering to vote does not crack my top 10. It might not crack my top 50.)

Me: No. Is there somewhere I could just look up if I registered?

Her: I don’t know. Most people just sign the form.

Me: If you want me to sign a form upon which lying is a felony, call me fussy, but I feel like I should know if I’m lying before I sign the thing.

Her: Let me get back to you*. 

(The site is https://www.sss.gov/regver/wfverification.aspx, by the way, and it turns out I did register. From the timing, I would guess I did it when I registered to vote.)

I thought it was a lot of paperwork for a job, and then I moved to the next step. The next step is 13 different forms, none of which is shorter than three pages. One of them is 14. Several appear identical. It’s exactly like doing my taxes except that that’s easier because I do my taxes online through a company that is actually interested in making it convenient and straightforward to do my taxes so I will pay them again next year to do my taxes again. 

This, on the other hand, was a one-off process with a captive audience. The last form requires me to attest that I have filled out all the forms and fields accurately. Uh, I think so. Can I add the words “to the best of my ability as I understood your requirements”? It’s a lot of paper.

To time-hop simultaneously to:

 1) That 1992 voter registration

 2) Last month’s column

 3) My prospective new job

 I would like to note that in a nice symmetry to this year, I voted in 1992 for a deranged billionaire outsider. I like disruption of other people’s orderly processes, especially in the name of efficiency, which is, pleasingly, exactly what I’m being recruited to do now. 

The wheel goes ’round.