It is the title of a song by a group called, “Five Man Electrical Band”, first released in 1970, then re-released in 1971, and the lyrics intelligently portray a world replete with warnings, admonitions, commands and curtailing threats, demanding of us a conduct of conformity otherwise ignored unless backed by such direct mandates.
Of course, there are the other, more subtle signs that we either ignore or otherwise dismiss because of the quiet manner of reproach initiated. Those subtle signs as evidenced by facial expressions; of a look unexplainable but surely existent with consequential meaning; or premonitions of rougher surf and winds blowing, animals fleeing to the relative safe havens guided by instinctive alarm; and of the rush of adrenaline raising the tiny prickles upon out neck and backs, in dark corners of unlit areas when sounds so distant precede the visual image of oncoming danger.
Do we pick up on them, or go through life disregarding unless and until the reverberations of such deliberate ignorance shatters the calm and quietude of our joyful resolve to remain blind behind a security of negation? Those trite statements of permeable permissibility: “He was a nice, quiet man,” said the neighbor next door after the devastation left by the referent cause; “I never saw it coming,” hoarsely uttered by the hospitalized individual in the midst of destruction and debris-filled lands; “Who would have thought…” And, indeed, in this universe where thinking is paramount, and observation of subtleties a requirement for survival, it is that which we ignore that can harm and injure.
There are those in life who float through and must be protected by means of oversight and constant care; some drivers on the road (or, perhaps, most of them) have no business carrying a license; it is only because others avoid and careen away that survival without a dent, a bruise or a catastrophic collision carries forth an undisturbed pathway from point A to the destination of choice. And so we have new signs to consider: It is now unlawful to text or otherwise use a Smartphone in hand, while others who drive with one hand stuffing a cheeseburger in one’s mouth while drinking a coke with the other, and with that invisible third hand pushing buttons on the panel to change satellite stations – somehow, that is safer because the signs tell us so, or at least implicitly inform as to the priority of current concerns.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are surrounded by signs – both subtle and direct – that it is time to move on, ignoring them will not make the underlying, substantive problems dissipate. Having a medical condition is the first sign, but one which may have no significant impact; but when that medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, then such an indicia of life’s intersecting whisper should, at a minimum, be elevated to a “warning”.
And when the signs flashing from the Agency’s perspective – of warnings, threats, harassing actions and administrative sanctions – begin to blare loudly as more than just a passing blur of the speed limit which we all tend to ignore, but instead becomes planted prominently for you and all to see, then it is time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that the signs indicated don’t result in those flashing lights in the review mirror forcing us to stop and be hauled before a magistrate to explain those actions of ignoring such signs which we knew, or should have known, needed to be followed.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire