A Personnel Saga
by A. Mouse, Non-E (1 ea.)
(as told to L. D. Manning)
Once upon a time a Personnel Officer retired and, with the
University's moderate pension plan, bought a Farm and moved his Family (Wife,
household duties preferred, and Daughter, in-progress Education preferred) to
the country to taste rural life. Old MacDonald (for that was his name)
promptly bought livestock, labelled them appropriately according to their Job
Descriptions, and recorded them all in a notebook, listing Job Title, Job
Description, Estimated Annual Salary (Base, Full-time rate, nearest whole
dollar amount), and preferred Job Qualifications.
In addition, Old MacDonald planted crops, all appropriately labelled, (Celery,
green, average stalk length 12", annual), and settled down to enjoy his
One day a young man visited the Farm and introduced himself as the County Agent
(Agent, Agricultural products, governmental). Old MacDonald gladly showed the
young man around the Farm, displaying his handiwork. "This is my Annual
Celery," he proudly announced, as they approached the garden.
"Annual Celery?" the young man muttered.
"Yes, and this is my Bovine Animal; four-legged, tan-and-white spotted,
"But that's a Guernsey milk cow!" The young man obviously seemed distressed
about something, but Old MacDonald couldn't understand what it could be.
"And this is my Cow; large size, hump and brown color preferred."
The young man had turned a peculiar color, but all he said was, "A Brahma bull!
I wonder how he got the sign around his neck."
The young man also seemed peculiarly distressed upon seeing that the Rooster
was penned alone, with his beak taped shut, even after Old MacDonald explained
that he had had to resort to these measures because the Rooster had been
putting in unauthorized overtime in the hen house, and crowing at dawn. He
simply WOULD NOT keep the required 8 to 5 hours (lunch from 12 noon to 1 pm
The tour of the farm was soon over. Old MacDonald did not understand the young
man's attitude. His records were immaculate. Every animal exactly fit its Job
Description, and each one was correctly Titled and Labelled with a neat sign
hung around its neck.
Soon afterwards, Old MacDonald decided that now that the Farm records were in
order, he should do the same to the personnel in his household. He, of course,
was Personnel Officer. His wife, however, had been doing many different chores
which were not in her Job Description. This, of course, would NOT DO. He
promptly notified her that she would henceforth be Procurement Officer and
would be in charge of buying and selling all items on the farm. Since his Wife
was not thrilled at the added duties in her already busy schedule, Old
MacDonald promised that she could keep all monies made on butter and eggs.
That very afternoon a young man came to the farm asking to buy a milk cow. He
had talked to the County Agent and had learned that Old MacDonald had one. His
wife had just had twin girls and they needed the milk badly. Old MacDonald
assured him that he had no Milk Cow. He had a Cow, a Bovine Animal, and a
Calf, but no Milk Cow. This young man turned a peculiar color also. (What
were young men coming to these days?) "But that IS a milk cow!" The young man
pointed to the Bovine Animal.
"Oh, no. That is a Bovine Animal. The fact that she gives milk is immaterial.
She was hired as a Bovine Animal. She has had no Experience at being a Milk
"Well, I'll buy her anyway. I need the milk. How much do you want for her?"
"Oh, I couldn't let this poor creature apply for the Job Title of Milk Cow. As
I have said, she has had not Experience in the field. She could, of course, be
Reclassified, but that will take some time."
"What do I have to do to have her reclassified?" The young man was not taking
this at all well. He looked ill.
"Well, you would have to submit a request in quintuplicate to the Personnel
Officer (that's me), then fill out a questionnaire listing (1) why the current
Job Title does not currently suit the duties of the Job Holder, (2) why the
needs of the Employer have changed with respect to the said Job Title, (3) why
this Job Holder was not hired at the new Job Title in the original request when
s/he was originally hired, and (4) what qualifications and/or Experience
qualify this candidate for the new Job Title. Then I will, of course, review
your case, and objectively come to a decision. I am, of course, an Equal
Opportunity Employer, and belong to EIEIO -- the Equality In Employment for
Interstate Opportunities Commission."
"How long will that take?"
"Oh, about three weeks. Of course, I am rather busy right now -- harvest time
coming up and all (all those new plants to Title and Label!) -- so it could
take longer than that."
The young man gave up and bought a milk cow (generic, no Job Title) from Farmer
Jones next door.
That evening, Old MacDonald happily returned home to the Procurement Officer
and his Daughter, secure in the knowledge that all of his Farmyard Staff and
his Family were appropriately Titled and Labelled. He was somewhat surprised
to note upon his return, however, that the house was a mess and there was no
dinner waiting for him when he arrived.
"Wife," he complained. "Why are you not performing your Wifely duties? I am
hungry, and for the first time in 32 years, this house is a mess. What is wrong
with you? Are you ill?"
"I see that you are looking in my direction when you ask these questions, but I
am the Procurement Officer, not a Wife," replied his (former) Wife. "My Job
Description does not include household duties."
"Hmmm. That is true." Old MacDonald had not planned on this problem. "Well, I
will simply give you back your old Title as well."
"Oh, no." The Procurement Officer was adamant. "Only one Job Title per
Yes, of course. How could he have forgotten after so many years?
"Well, then, I will give you back your old Title and do the Purchasing and
"Oh, no. I make more money as a Procurement Officer than I did as a Wife.
That would be a Demotion (A Very Serious Matter). Besides, I am not allowed to
change Job Titles within the Farm for six months after I have once changed Job
Titles. No. I am Procurement Officer, and that is that."
Old MacDonald couldn't argue with that logic, so he fixed himself an Old
MacDonald's hamburger and went to bed.
The next day Mr. Jones of the neighboring farm came by and asked to see the
Personnel List. Old MacDonald was only happy to oblige, since all of his
records were open to the Public. Mr. Jones noted a "Bovine Animal," a "Calf," a
"Cow," and a "Moo-Moo." He then politely inquired as to which of the Job
Titles on the Personnel List had represented Positions which had actually been
filled, and asked to see the Job Descriptions of those Jobs. When Old
MacDonald happily obliged, he asked to interview two of the individuals
involved, and, after a short while in the pasture, he requested that Old
MacDonald sell him the Bovine Animal, since, as he pointed out, he had need of
just such a Job Holder to inhabit one of his barns. Old MacDonald was pleased
to oblige and offered to deliver the animal to Farmer Jones' Dairy Farm next
door that very afternoon.
Everything was soon concluded satisfactorily. (The Bovine Animal was
especially happy, since she had not been milked for several weeks, being, of
course, a Bovine Animal and not a Milk Cow.)
During his trip to the Dairy to deliver the Bovine Animal, Old MacDonald
noticed that the Milk Cows at the Dairy were giving milk. Moreover, most of
them had Calves. Old MacDonald calculated rapidly and decided to employ a Milk
Cow on his own Farm. He asked Farmer Jones how much Annual Salary (Full-time,
Base Rate) a Milk Cow should earn.
"Oh, my animals have no Job Titles," replied Farmer Jones. "They are
commodities. I could sell you one if you like. In fact, I could sell you this
one that I just bought from you -- at a small profit, of course."
Old MacDonald promptly went back to the Procurement Officer and requested that
she buy the milk cow from Farmer Jones. The Procurement Officer gave him forms
to fill out. He obliged, but she still seemed to see difficulties in the
"You cannot sole source an item unless the vendor is the only source from which
the equivalent item can be bought. You then need a letter explaining (1) why
this vendor is the only source for this needed item, and (2) why the
specifications of the said item are necessary for your farm work."
"But I bought grain last week from The Speedy Seed Company, using a sole source
Purchase Order, and you did not say anything then."
"That was a Chemical, food additive. You already had a letter on file for this
type of purchase."
"Besides, this is only $250.00. Couldn't we make an exception for just one
Old MacDonald didn't see how he could justify the specifications of a cow to be
bought as "sole source" under these rules, so he asked how else he might be
able to purchase the item.
"You must get three bids," the Procurement Officer said.
So Old MacDonald called three farms and got three bids on a milk cow. Mr.
Smith's cow was two dollars cheaper. The Procurement Officer informed Old
MacDonald that he would have to buy the cheaper product. It was a Farm Law.
"But I want a Guernsey cow, because they give richer milk," said Old MacDonald.
"You cannot purchase solely on the basis of Brand Names," returned the
Procurement Officer. "You must get three bids, based on Qualifications of
Equivalent Items; as, for example, size, equipment, and function."
So Old MacDonald got three more bids. This time he specified "Cow, medium
size, having one udder with at least four faucet-like devices hanging from it."
This seemed to satisfy the Procurement Officer, since neither of the other two
farms he called had that exact type of item, and each one put in a "No Bid."
Soon, however, the Procurement Officer called Old MacDonald back and declared,
"We cannot buy this item from Farmer Jones. 'Cows, medium size, having one
udder with at least four faucet-like devices hanging from it' are on Farm
Contract with Farmer Smith. You will have to buy one of his."
"But his are Herefords and nearly eight years old! And two of them limp!" Old
MacDonald was beginning to shout.
"Well, you cannot specify according to age, race, sex, color, or handicapped
condition. (We are members of the Equality In Expenses for Investment
Opportunities Division of the Equality In Expenditures for Interstate
Opportunities Commission -- the EIEIO, EIEIO -- you know, and cannot
discriminate well.) If you want to buy a different type of animal, you should
have used the correct specification in your Order when you took bids."
Old MacDonald looked in the Farm Contract Book, wrote his specifications very
carefully, took three more bids, and was finally successful.
Since it had taken him three days to buy back the milk cow that had once been a
Bovine Animal, Old MacDonald was anxious to get the animal as soon as possible.
He offered to pick the animal up himself at Farmer Jones' Dairy Farm that very
afternoon. When he got there, he realized that he had not put into the
Purchase Order a request for a halter, and since he could not lead the animal
back home without one, he asked Farmer Jones what to do. Farmer Jones
obligingly offered to sell him the halter that had come with the animal for
half of the original retail price if Old MacDonald would take the animal away
at that time and not bother Farmer Jones any more. Old MacDonald agreed and
took the animal back to his Farm.
When he notified the Procurement Officer about the sale, however, she refused
to repay the fee, since reimbursements are not allowed on Farm Accounts, and
since he had not justified buying used equipment in advance. Old MacDonald
told her that this was a Service of Milk Cow transportation, replacement part
from the Vendor who sold the Milk Cow, and she finally agreed to reimburse him
from her butter-and-egg money.
It was shortly after this transaction that Old MacDonald decided he wasn't cut
out for Farm Life. Too many Rules and Regulations, he decided. So he moved
his Family (Wife and Daughter) back to the City (Urban area, heavily populated)
and became the Director of the Bureau for Bureaucratically Underprivileged
Rurally-Educated Areas' Urbanization (the Bureau of BUREAUs), and they lived
bureaucratically every after.