“Cold” is a word with multiple meanings. It can refer to the temperature of one’s environment; an infectious malady of common origins; or the emotional unresponsiveness of someone. It can even be an adverb delineating the complete knowledge or mastery of a subject, as in, “He knew it cold”.
But temperatures can be countered; common colds have multiple remedies (though one wonders if any of them are effective, as opposed to bed rest and drinking fluids); and the adverb form is merely an informal allowance of language in a vernacular left for the younger generation. We are thus left with the state of emotional paralysis — identified in one’s own being, or in another.
For the injured or ill Federal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such an appropriate identification of the concept and definition related to the emotional reaction (or lack thereof) by one’s own agency and one’s co-workers should be expected.
While it is a welcome and unexpected surprise if one’s agency and co-workers respond otherwise, it is simply the nature of human beings to respond with a herd mentality, and for the most part, once the Federal or Postal employee reveals the intention to depart from one’s agency, the common response is one which can only be characterized as “cold”.
Why must it be this way?
There is no adequate explanation. But for the Federal and Postal employee under FERS or CSRS, who has had to endure the often unthinking bureaucracy of the Federal Sector, such lack of warmth merely exacerbates the dire situation of one who suffers from a medical condition which necessitates filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.
It is, indeed, a puzzle; for in the harshness of winter, where the cold winds blow, the emotional coldness of one’s workplace is somewhat akin the common cold — a nagging sense that something has gone awry, but most Federal and Postal employees know that cold, anyway.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire