We all make them. We may deny doing so, engaging it, silently participating in the informal sport of it all, but we nevertheless join in — that judging eye for the look, the appearance, or maybe sometimes even the substance. Comparisons are performed each and every day of our lives — by ourselves; by others; publicly or in the insular universe of private thoughts. Appearance; demeanor, voice inflections; vocabulary used; kindness offered and actions interpreted; there are multiple and almost endless criteria upon which they are made.
Is he boring? In comparison to what and whom? If there is no “other” to compare X to, how can one ascertain the value, worth or interest; for it is precisely “against Y” that X can have any comparative value. Does my dog behave better than other dogs, most dogs, some dogs? Does my husband act in a kind manner, a polite way, with a gentlemanly pose, in comparison with X, Y or Z? Does my house look presentable or an eyesore in comparison to others in the neighborhood? Is the performance of X superior, outstanding, minimal or marginal — and if so, or of fitting any of the categories, in comparison to what or whom?
When a predator looks for a prey, is not the first instinct to observe the comparisons before the chase begins — of vulnerability; of weaknesses displayed or quickness revealed; of exhaustion, a limp, an indicator that it may not outrun as quickly as the others in the sprint for life? And of human predators who prey upon children, the sick, the elderly — why do we focus so much upon the characteristics of the criminal as opposed to the archetypal manifestations of personalities that reveal the underlying weaknesses often unobserved but clearly and comparatively obvious? And why do we feel good about ourselves when we compare our misery to another and find ours wanting?
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position or job, the act of engaging in comparative analysis is an inevitability.
Comparing yourself to who you were a year ago, two years, a month or a day; comparing your physical or cognitive decline and deterioration to the ghost of past remembrances of that figure who was full of vitality and vigor; and comparing what you accomplished 6 months ago, a year, and projecting hence into the future and determining that the chronic medical condition cannot for much longer endure the inconsistency with the positional duties required by your agency.
And don’t think that your agency, the Supervisors and Managers aren’t doing what we all do — making comparisons. And it is based upon those comparisons that the predator acts and pounces, when the vulnerable least expect it and often feel secure within the insularity of their own ignorance.
That is why preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is important to consider early and systematically, lest the comparison made by others becomes the basis for a PIP or a subsequent termination.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire