Long before the 2008 debacle of economic turmoil; preceding epic movies following, of the lavish ineptitude of miscreants awash in money’s sale of souls in exchange for the temporal pleasures of limitless fantasies; when laughter could be heard yet, because the future still held some hope, there was a movie by the same title. It was a comedy of innocence – although, the language used may still blush for some, it reveals a period long gone and no longer found in today’s society where revealing all, telling everyone and showing unabashedly have become the normative course of behavior.
Unlike the reality of Wall Street’s mechanism of manipulation, the storyline follows a fairly conventional discourse of moral constancy – of identifiable evil; revenge and retribution for wrongs committed; redemption for those whose failings resulted from unseemly characters. Contrast that with the fictional depictions of today, some mere several decades hence: the unjust are left unpunished, or barely so; the miscreants are bailed out from their own folly and greed; and the Mom & Pop store just around the corner is still left wondering why they were never rescued from bankruptcy, when the very ones who created the economic crisis are back at it, again.
The problem with discussing such issues on a macro-scale, of course, is that generalities invite sweeping statements of inane and excusable tendencies, whereas kitchen-table, microcosmic tales of individual narratives leave no room for such averted cover of hidden devices, where rats and other scoundrels may scurry to find convenient places to conceal their shameful misdeeds.
We often wish that we, too, could “trade places”, but only because we fail to listen to the details of troubles faded on lawns across the street where the grass appears greener, but where the internal turmoil of ghosts hidden remain veiled.
Medical conditions have a way of bringing us all back to the basics of living. For, when one is healthy, all sorts and manner of wishing for fortunes and superficiality of life’s extras are engaged; but when a medical condition hits, all that we desire is for the boredom of good health. 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 the Federal or Postal employee’s position of formal occupation (as reflected on an SF 50 or PS Form 52), understand this concept all too well.
Trading places is all relative, especially when it comes to the basics of human happiness. For Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine, it happened that fate brought two unlikely characters together to right the wrongs of a macroeconomic system left to manipulative devices on the commodities trading floor; for the Federal and Postal employee who suffers 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 positional duties, the desire to “trade places” is somewhat more basic – of mere good health in order to maintain a constancy of life’s pleasures taken for granted by others.
But, instead, often the best option for trading places is to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset. Sometimes, the trade itself is a compromise on a micro-scale of lesser proportions, and not within the complex world of high finance and commodities exchanges.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire