The oversized iron pot hangs over the open fire, and the gurgling of ingredients steams and burps the lid in predictable sequences of rhythmic timing; the aroma is an admixture of sweet and mysterious combinations of one knows-not-what; perhaps of bones, marrow and herbs, here a whiff of something which touches upon the dark recesses of one’s memory, and there a hint of harboring horrors, reminding us of past deeds and loathsome reminiscences.
The figure who stands hunched over the source of pervading uprisings, is covered in a dark shawl; a bony hand gripping the large wooden ladle, mixing, turning, crouching over to sniff and taste; and from the chasm of the figure’s hollow mouth, toothless and echoing a chamber of snorting chafes, the sigh of satisfaction emits, as the cauldron of one’s past is ready to be served. And so the story goes.
Who among us would want the fullness of one’s past and history of deeds to be revealed? What pot would hold the full taste of one’s misdeeds, private concerns and actions engaged?
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the process itself sometimes feels like one is forced to partake of a witch’s brew — who will be in the mix? What private information will have to be revealed? When will the pot of information be ready? Who will mix the ingredients? The mysteries contained within the mixture of the witch’s brew is indeed terrifying. Every process which is unknown and, moreover, unknowable, is one fraught with concerns and trepidation of purpose.
For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is like the witch’s cauldron — it must bring to the fore one’s current circumstances (the medical condition), the impact upon the future (finances, future job prospects, etc.), and potentially the confrontation with one’s past (agencies love to do that).
The key is to understand the complexities of the administrative process, and to maneuver through the bureaucracy of the witch’s brew. In doing that, one must always be cognizant of the cauldron of one’s past, and keep out of the reach and grasp of those bony fingers which reach out to encircle one’s throat, lest you become an ingredient in the admixture of the skeletons found at the bottom of the pot.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire